08 May 2016 ANKOR WAT, A NEW WONDER OF THE WORLD
Our boutique hotel here in Siem Reap is lovely – they fed us one of the most delicious breakfasts I have yet to try in Cambodia, complete with fruit picked fresh from the overhanging mango and papaya trees.
After breakfast we set off early, for a full morning exploring the largest buddhist temple complex in the world – Ankor Wat. Our guide and driver were both wonderful, both practicing Christians who used to be Buddhist. They represent the small (but strong) 5% of the Cambodian population that is not Buddhist. With their backgrounds in both religions, we learned a lot about how Ancient Eastern Religion (Buddhism) is similar in symbolism and practice to a Western Christian Faith; absolutely fascinating.
Ankor Wat is considered to be one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to understand why that is. We visiting three main sites today – Ta Prohm, The Bayron Temple, and the original Ankor Wat Complex. It took us most of the day, because there was just so much to do and see!
We fed monkeys, rode elephants, climbed to the top of ancient temples, and explored the jungle canopy (even having the option to zip line through the treetops overlooking the ruins). We also learned a lot about the lives of monks – who wear orange robes as a respect to Buddha and a symbol of their loyalty to follow his teachings. Everything was so fascinating, it would have been absolutely impossible to remember it all!
Midday we took a break to attend our own church meeting (at one of the LDS Chapels in Siem Reap). As we entered to chapel we were instructed to take our shoes off (as is customary here in Cambodia). The people here are so humble – and very welcoming. Church went by quick, and we were sad to leave.
We returned to Ankor Wat in the evening to see the sunset and capture the last of our stunning photographs of the complex. In the evening we were taken to a lovely dinner buffet and traditional Khmer Dance Show – that gave us a good glimpse into the ancient and modern fusion of culture that still exists in Cambodia today.
Tomorrow we are looking forward to our first Cambodian Cooking Class in a nearby village – it will be a real treat!