Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Apsara

Tonle Sap and Phnom Penh

Day 12 Saturday 27 December 2014

There was a programmed visit this morning but this included a school visit and silk weaving.  We had seen silk weaving earlier on our travels and I felt it unlikely that a planned school visit would be particularly educational.  My wife agreed with me and so we remained on board and I spent the time on some earlier days of this blog.

Link to photographs:

Rivages du Monde who operate the river cruisers jointly with a Vietnamese company have dropped the Killing Fields visit from their own itinerary as it was felt that combined with the S-21 the impact was overpowering.  Our booking with VJV did include it in the itinerary at the time of booking (this may well have changed).  Our itinerary was honoured – so whilst the other passengers went to visit Wat Phnom in the afternoon we were off to the site of one of the Killing Fields – Choeung Ek – which lies on the edge of the City and is also close to the river’s edge.

There are no pictures of our visit.  All of the buildings at the time of the deaths have been removed and the mass grave areas, not all of which ahave been excavated, are marked.  They have audio guides and marked locations around the (to me) surprisingly small area of land.  The audio guides have been well produced and relate the stories of events in the period of the Pol Pot regime and the terrible deaths inflicted on this site.

There is a peaceful area where one can sit alongside a small canal to listen to some of te stories of those who managed to avoid death during this period of dispossession and in one case escape to USA and return as part of the team overseeing the first elections.

Centrally on the site is a building which houses human bones – skulls are visible through the glass doors – of some of those who died.  We do not feel we can enter as it somehow would further disturb those no longer with us.  Whilst we have not visited the scenes of mass murder arising during the Second World War, the events in Cambodia, as retold seem removed as there is no underlying schism of religion, race or politics which drove the happenings of which this is the result.

Around the site even now bones and rags of the departed rise to the surface and are collected by the staff.  Perhaps the most horrendous and chilling area surrounds a tree against which babies were thrown in view of their mothers.

It is as if all sense of reason and logic had left the Khmer Rouge army and the people.  There is more on this aspect tomorrow.

The day ends with another Khmer Apsara dance troupe – this time of children and once again the coconut and other dances are portrayed – remarkably well.  This tradition is obviously set to continue in Cambodia for a long time.Ap

Siem Reap Day 2

Day 9 Wednesday 24 December 2014

Another early start and our guide whisks off to Tar Prohm temple.  This is famous as it was used for one of the Indiana Jones films and unlike some of the other sites we can see the impact of the jungle growth on the site.  Approaching the outside of the temple there is a tree which has managed to grow seemingly on the stone blocks – the roots run around the top of the blocks and then eventually dive into the cracks to find sustenance underground.

Elsewhere in the complex it looks like the Spong trees (Spong is a wonderful word bringing to mind the Goons) balanced on walls, look the other side and the roots run down the wall and then through cracks into the ground.

Photographs are here:

As with other temples the original gods were hindu related.  Some restoration continues but I believe there is an intention here to retain a nod to the overground state  as it is intended to reflect some of the lost nature of all of the temples.  They were lost until the mid-nineteenth century after the capital was moved elsewhere from Siem Reap; it is now thought after a 30 year drought followed by very heavy rains which overwhelmed the drainage system – sounds like global warming and then an inevitable correction.  And once the centre was weakened Cambodia as a whole changed.

Our next stop is further away – but worth the journey,  We go to Banteay Srei which is a very well served tourist point – parking, toilets and all organised very well to see a smaller sire which has been well preserved.  This is busy.  The carvings here in the stone are much deeper and have survived well.

There is one story of a carving we are told where the “good” god has to unravel a spell cast on a devil who cannot killed in daytime, or at night, by a man or a woman, nor by an animal, neither indoors, or outdoors (there may well be other conditions!).  So the good god becomes half man, half bull, and kills the devil in a doorway at day break; thereby finding a way around the curse!

When I look at the photos again I may find other points on which to comment.

Our return to the hotel (our least favourite of the trip) shows another odd event.  We have a third bed in our room.  So the hotel fails for a poor breakfast choice (hard boiled runny eggs have soft whites), a dirty sheet on our first night on Jackie’s side of the bed and now an unwanted extra bed, which we ask (and it is) promptly removed.

We spend the afternoon close to the pool in Siem Reap enjoying some sun as it is a awful lot warmer than our earlier locations.  We might even get a little browner.

And we have been promised a Christmas Eve extravaganza.  So cocktails in the normal outside restaurant – the staff have been busy creating a snow scene all around.  Then we head out and around the back of the swimming pool for the food and the entertainment.  The wife has a dislike of flying bugs – mainly because they always bite her and not me!  Anyway this area seems to be inundated with the most spectacular group of insects ever encountered.

Around us are numerous different food stations and this ranges from pasta being cooked in front of us, a charcoal grill which is so busy I cannot get near, bakery, salads.  The kitchen staff have been working flat out all day.  We move around gathering food and then sitting down – whereupon we become sitting ducks for the insects.  The wife nearly loses a glass of wine at one point!

The entertainment at this point is a little disappointing – a couple of girls singing to backing tracks and I could have done without Hotel California being murdered.  Poor.  We were also promised dancing and it became clear that this was where the moeny had been spent.  It was the same high quality team we had enjoyed the previous evening of Apsara dancers.  Yay, the coconut song again!

We decided an early retreat to bed was in order.