Thursday 10th July 2014
Today we didn’t go to village but took the day “off” to visit the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat.
Yesterday we decided that it would be fun to be there for the sunrise, so we got up early. Very early. At 5am we were aboard the bus heading for the temples. We assembled in one of the “library” buildings in front of the temple and watched the sky lighten behind the largest religious monument in the world. Once the sun was up and we had finished out picnic breakfast, we went into the temple itself to explore. Not only is Angkor Wat the biggest monument in the world, in my opinion it is one of the most beautiful too. It was originally built in reverence to the Hindu god Vishnu the creator and destroyer of the world. Over the centuries passed the influence of Buddhism increased in Cambodia and on the architecture and use of Angkor Wat. The Buddhism in Cambodia today still has clear Hindu roots and the vast majority of Cambodians (more than 90%) practice this religion. The monks and nuns in the temple were a reminder that this temple is still very much in use and an extremely important part of Cambodians’ cultural identity. Angkor Wat is just one of dozens of temples in the UNESCO world heritage site. We also visited the Bayon temple, the Elephant Terrace and the beautiful, jungle-entwined Ta Prohm.
Getting up so early has its advantages – it meant we were back in town for lunch and had the afternoon to chill out, eat ice cream, get massages and of course a little bit more market shopping. We had a fabulous slap up dinner before going to Phare, the Cambodian Circus. Phare is an NGO based in Battambang, which provides free education to kids from difficult social backgrounds, in the fields of performing arts including circus. The artists danced and flipped and juggled and stood three high and did acrobatics on silks, see-saws, platforms on cylinders, flaming skipping ropes and each other. It was brilliant!!
After such an early start we were grateful for an early night to recharge for tomorrow – our last day in the village.