Friday, August 05, 2005

Mom and Dad back from Siem Reap outing



Siem Reap is located in the northwestern part of Cambodia where the world-famous temples of Angkor (city) were all built at the height of the Khmer civilization (from the 9th – 14th centuries). During these six centuries, 27 kings successfully built some exceptional monuments and temples. Our tour guide, Phanny, was very knowledgeable and really made the history of the area come alive. Because there are so many temples (800) we decided to sightsee each morning and see other things in the afternoon. Our first stop was Bayon where we crossed a moat on a naga bridge. The bridge consists of two giant nagas (five headed snakes) on either side of the bridge, supported by rows of gods on the left and demons on the right. This temple consists of a mass of face-towers that creates a stone mountain of ascending peaks. Most of these towers are carved with four faces but sometimes there are only three or even just two. The central tower has many more. Close by was Angkor Thom, which was one of the largest of all Khmer cities, and was probably the capital. Its name means “Great City.” There were many smaller temples within its boundaries. The Elephant Terrace (300 m long) at the heart of Angkor Thom, was the foundation for royal reception pavilions. Its 3 m high wall is carved with one long, continuous scene of elephants in hunting scenes. Five stairways lead up to the terrace and have three-headed elephants on each side. On our way back to the hotel we saw quite a few monkeys (adults and little ones) by the side of the road. After eating lunch we visited the “Silk Farm” and toured their facilities. This was very interesting to see the different types of mulberry bushes used, the 47-day cycle of the silk worm (from eggs to chrysalis, then 20% are allowed to develop into moths which will produce more eggs, the remaining 80% are spun into thread and the worm can then be eaten). The silk threads are then separated, washed, dyed and woven into material. It rained this afternoon and evening.

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