Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm and the Circus

We were pretty excited to find out our hotel gave free breakfast (not common there) and the breakfast options were amazing, not just typical eggs and toast. I mean yum!

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We had a big adventure making our way to Angkor Wat because after we bought our tickets for a day pass to the temples, our tuktuk broke down about 20 minutes from where we needed to go! Ten other drivers circled around ours – all trying to give advice on how to fix it in Khmer. It was very exciting, although annoying because we had to wait a long time and it’s kind of like going to Disney Land where you want to arrive as early as possible to beat both the crowds and the heat, and this situation prevented that. We eventually got a new driver – who ended up being our driver majority of our time in Siem Reap. We had to memorize the driver’s shirt because there were so many tuktuk drivers at the temples that it was near impossible to spot ours.

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We first went to Angkor Wat, the most famous of the old temples. It was an amazing site, and knowing it was built in the 12th century made it that much more impressive. The details on the walls with the carvings and the size of it was something that can’t be described. P1000869

We walked and walked and were overwhelmed by what we saw. Well I was probably more overwhelmed since it was Emily’s 7th or 8th time there 🙂

Look at this detail carved into the walls:

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Can you imagine walking up and down such steep steps every day?

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Originally a Hindu temple then transformed into a Buddhist temple, the religious significance is undeniable. Emily told me she saw in the news that some European couple had just been arrested for taking nude photos outside of the temple – so disrespectful. In some sections of the site, you must cover your knees and shoulders and remove hats because they are so sacred.

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The size of these temples were remarkable!P1000893

Such beautiful architecture:P1000915

After a good amount of time, we found our driver and made our way to the next temple. We saw monkeys having sex on the side of the road – totally wild! We made it to Bayon, another temple most known for having giant faces carved into the towers. Historians believe this was built either in the 12th or 13th century, and again the details were amazing. P1000922

Check this temple out!

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Look at this detail:

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People often take photos where they pose to look as though they are kissing these facesP1000944 P1000947

This was my favorite of all the temples, a complicated maze of hallways, stairs, and statues. I shouldn’t have been as surprised by the amount there was to look at. Knowing how long the temple had existed just blew my mind, imagining people that long ago building it and visiting just made it that much more remarkable.

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We walked around to look at other ruins in the area and went to the Elephant Terrace, which is a building with giant elephants carved into the stone, then had lunch under a tent near the ruins. Of course they had real elephants available to ride.

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Ta Prohm – our last temple of the day is famous for having giant trees actually growing into the building over time. P1010023P1010003

It’s also from the 12th or 13th century and is now on the World Heritage List. When new, this site was home to thousands of people and was continued to be expanded and built on until the 15th century. Now it is regularly restored, many sections were blocked off as workers did construction, trying to save the ruins.

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With trees growing in, the buildings are constantly changing and needing repairs.

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Check out the size of this tree!

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After a full day of temple visits, we were exhausted, especially because it turned out to be one of the hottest days during my visit in Cambodia. Emily surprised our driver by asking in Khmer if we could stop at this place to buy tickets for the circus. He couldn’t stop laughing because we had gone the whole day with him and he had no clue she knew how to speak Khmer so well. We grabbed our tickets then went back to the hotel where I promptly passed out. It had certainly been an exhausting day. When I woke up, we made our way back to Pub Street and had dinner at Joe’s To Go, this fun restaurant that also helped kids in Cambodia as well as worked with people who have disabilities.

The Cambodian circus was spectacular! With only a few performers, they created a powerful story with their art and used their bodies to tell it. I had never seen anything like it. IMG_0801IMG_0795

It wasn’t a stereotypical circus with clowns and lions, but more acrobatics and gymnastics. The strength and flexibility of the performers was so impressive – I think I sat with my mouth wide open in shock majority of the show.

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I mean look at this!

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It was absolutely fantastic!

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