cambodia Laos

Cambodia Phnom Phen and Siem Reap

We flew the longest direct non stop flight in the world:  New York to Bangkok, 20 hours wow – it was long.  As soon as we landed we took another flight to Phnom Phen and were met my our famous “Hotel Le Royal”  a Raffles property and one of the finest in Asia.  IT is one of Asia’s grand old palaces like the oriental in Bangkok or the Strand in Yangon- we have done both.  After traveling non stop for more than 24 hours we were relieved to finally get some luxury.  The next day we relaxed around the peaceful swimming pool and were doted on by the handsome attired waiters and waitresses.  the food was lavish, elegantly prepared and scrumptious as well.  Phnom Phen is a wonderful city that rest along the banks of the Tonie Sap and Mekong rivers.  We visited the many wats and museums.

The Silver Pagoda with its 5000 silver tiles and the national museum where we saw some of the finest collections of Khmer sculpture in the world including the eight armed statue of Vishnu. We also saw the horrors of what man can do in Tuoi Sleng Museum -the killing fields or prison s21.  Allot of people were killed here. In the evening we dined in the local shops and watched Shadow Puppets dances.  The shadow puppets relate tot eh Ryamiya and is very cool as their shaddows were projected on a screen. We aslo went to traditioanl Khmer music concerts, plays and dances.

Traveling around this busy city was trying and at times somewhat dangerous -you just bolted out into traffic and hoped for the best.  At other times it was a lazy day for the workers and they took naps in the afternoon.

Siem Reap Ankor Wat

We stayed at one of he finest hotels in Asia in Seim Reap, Raffels Hotel- the finest and we stayed below Jackie Kennedy’s room when she visited here. In the cool of the early morning from our balcony in soft glow of light, orange paints the sky and wisps of white cotton pass overhead. From the stone veranda surrounding the sprawling serene pool we were surrounded in verdant foliage where birds sang songs of harmony. The waiters were sharply dressed in freshly pressed coats and ties. we were served dark European coffees over a breakfast of scrumptious fruits and we were addressed as sirs and madame. Our new found friends are elegantly dressed Europeans attired in blue blazers and their women in fine silk dresses. Black tie dinner dance for the evening and incredible cocktails and dancing. Old world charm. We set out for Angkor after breakfast.

There are two great complexes of ancient temples in Southeast Asia, one at Bagan in Burma, the other at Angkor in Cambodia. The temples of Angkor, built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD, represent one of humankind’s most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. The structures are more than 100 stone temples in all and they are the surviving remains of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis.

At the temple of Phnom Bakheng there are over a 100 surrounding towers. Angkor Wat, built during the early years of the 12th century by Suryavaram II, honors the Hindu god Vishnu and is a symbolic representation of Hindu cosmology. Consisting of an enormous temple, its five inter-nested rectangular walls and moats represent chains of mountains and the cosmic ocean.

Ta Prohm has been left in the stranglehold of trees. Having planted themselves centuries ago, the tree’s serpentine roots pry apart the ancient stones and their immense trunks straddle the once bustling Buddhist temple.

Built in the later part of the 12th century by Jayavarman VII,

During half-millennium of Khmer occupation, the city of Angkor became a pilgrimage destination of importance throughout South eastern Asia. Sacked by the Thais in 1431 and abandoned in 1432, Angkor was forgotten for a few centuries. The French explorer Henri Mouhot brought Angkor to the world’s attention in 1860. The French people beginning in 1908 funded and superbly managed an extensive restoration project. The restoration has continued to the present day, excepting periods in the 70’s and 80’s when military fighting prevented archaeologists from living near the ruins. They are adorned with stunningly beautiful religious art, the Angkor temples were instruments for assisting humans in their realization of the divine.

Book to read: Pol Pot Anatomy of  nightmare