Siem Reap, Cambodia–Part 3

Siem Riep Cambodia–Bayan Buddhas.jpg

Now to finish up Cambodia. It’s amazing what we can accomplish in a day! Three temple sites in one morning, and our relatively early start meant we were done as the heaviest crowds arrived. The afternoon options included more temples but we’d had enough so opted to go to the markets to see and shop. (Unfortunately our plans to visit Tonle Saping, a floating village, didn’t materialize because the water levels were so low it wasn’t worth the trip.)

Here’s more information about the temples we saw, random items I found interesting. Since the 1980s, there has been a great deal of international support for the restoration of the Angkor Archeological Park sites from many countries, with the US, Germany, Japan, and China among the largest contributors.

Angkor Wat was built as a temple-mountain for the Hindu god Vishnu. We don’t know why it was abandoned; one theory is that the Khmer Empire’s Hinduism was replaced in the 13th and 14th centuries by Theravada Buddhism.

The kings of Cambodia had long and complicated names, such as Suryaworman and another one beginning with J. Our guide referred to them as simply S2, J7 (S2’s great grandson), etc. It was both amusing and confusing! Plus for several centuries the religion was not fixed; some of the kings opted to change from his predecessor’s choice, so there were periods of Hinduism and then Buddhism, and vice versa. For example, in the 13th century J8, grandson of J7, changed the religion from Buddhism back to Hinduism, destroying many Buddhas or reconfiguring them to represent Lord Shiva by opening the statues’ eyes and adding a third eye.

And now for a lighter moment. I had to laugh at this sign in a restroom along the way. No smoking you know. The others, left to right, say no squatting on the toilet seat (“squatty potties” are common in this area), no foot washing, and no showering in the toilet stalls!!!

Siem Reap–sign in toilet
Siem Reap–sign in toilet

Lunch was another expansive buffet with fabulous salads of all kinds, both Cambodian and Western. The desserts were also lovely. I didn’t bother to show you the line of 5 hot dish selections, as it wasn’t as pretty. These displays were pretty typical of our lunches in every destination, although the desserts were not as plentiful here (!).

Siem Reap–hotel lunch buffet, salads
Siem Reap–hotel lunch buffet, salads
Siem Reap–hotel lunch buffet, desserts
Siem Reap–hotel lunch buffet, desserts

Outside the dining room, this young lady entertained us with soothing music on this Cambodian version of a marimba.

Siem Reap–Raffles hotel musician
Siem Reap–Raffles hotel musician

Well fortified, we headed to the market, a huge warren of vendor stalls as well as a food section. It was similar to ones we’d seen in Vietnam, with colorful displays of everything imaginable.

Siem Reap–market, exotic fruit display
Siem Reap–market, exotic fruit display

We have no idea what the multicolored fruits above are, nor the types of fish below!

Siem Reap–market, fish vendor
Siem Reap–market, fish vendor

We also shopped for lovely silk scarves and silver jewelry in the other part of the market; somehow I can’t find any pics of that section at the moment but will look for them, or get them from fellow travelers and share them later.

The hotel had several lovely shops and art galleries, including this display of Smiling Buddhas.

Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d'Angkor Buddha Exhibit
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d’Angkor Buddha Exhibit
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d'Angkor Buddha Exhibit2
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d’Angkor Buddha Exhibit2

After a bit of relaxing, we visited our adorable bartender for a cocktail before the festive dinner. She remembered what drinks we’d had the previous evening and served them up right away. I had a delicious vodka drink with kaffir lime and ginger, which I’ll have to try to recreate at home.

Siem Reap–Raffles bar
Siem Reap–Raffles bar

When we arrive in our hotel rooms at each stop, Nat. Geo. has a gift or two for us that represents local craftsmanship. Here we received a long silk skirt for me and a silk shirt for Don (which Mr. Fussy said he wouldn’t wear, although many of the men sported them at dinner).

Siem Reap–Raffles hotel, silk gifts
Siem Reap–Raffles hotel, silk gifts

I wore my new skirt and one of the scarves I bought to dinner, and our expedition leader Esther wore hers as well.

Siem Reap–Esther and I modeling our new skirts
Siem Reap–Esther and I modeling our new skirts

The hotel pool area looked lovely at night.

Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d'Angkor pool area
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d’Angkor pool area

That evening our dinner was served in an area behind the pool pavilion. The tables were beautifully set, and we had lots of food stations to visit. Our favorite was the tandoori and naan station. Unfortunately all the buffets are blending in my mind and I can’t recall what else there was!

We were all amazed at how the huge ice sculptures flanking the stage stayed frozen in the very warm weather. Mr. Fussy decided to see if they were really ice; they were indeed!

Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d'Angkor Ice sculpture
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d’Angkor Ice sculpture

A dance presentation followed dinner. The first was a lovely blessing dance.

Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d'Angkor Blessing Dance
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d’Angkor Blessing Dance

The second dance was the Golden Mermaid, part of the Ramayana epic. Here we have Hanuman, the Monkey King, wooing the Golden Mermaid so he could rescue King Rama’s queen.

Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d'Angkor Golden Mermaid Dance
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d’Angkor Golden Mermaid Dance

The last dance was the Apsaras, the celestial dancers reputed to bring prosperity to the kingdom. It looked pretty much like the first dance. I have a video of it that I will share later; I’ve been writing most of my posts offline and can’t embed videos or do photo galleries instead of individual pictures. We then got to pose with all the performers afterwards.

Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d'Angkor, Marlene and dancers
Siem Reap–Raffles Hotel d’Angkor, Marlene Don, and dancers

Namaste and good night!



8 thoughts on “Siem Reap, Cambodia–Part 3

  1. I loved this post. Revived so many great memories of Siem Reap. Your pictures just keep getting better and better. And you look smashing in your new skirt.

  2. Love your outfit, really. I am exhausted reading your diaries but I know this is a trip of a lifetime. Can’t believe harem guy went shopping!
    Buffets looks amazing. I would have quit after 3 temples also!
    I’m in Miami now – Cuba on Monday.

  3. Mr Fussy and you look like your having a marvelous time. Your pictures and narration makes me feel like I’m on this trip too!!

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