Snippets of Siem Reap, Cambodia

Originally published on 20/4/2018

Just to relive the memories of my time there, one year ago, with my family. 
I have no regrets visiting this country, in fact, I love it so much! The city is charming, the people are friendly. The Angkor Wat Complex is worth visiting, it is worth every dollar spent. The only drawback about Cambodia is that they’re using the USD as their currency. Pffttt… So here it goes: 

Catching the Sunrise at Angkor Wat, built by Suryavarman II in the 12th century.

 

“Good morning sunshine, the Earth says Hello!” 
The smug looking monkey probably saying
“Draw (take my picture) me like one of your French Girls,” 
The carvings on the wall 

The long stretch of wall depicting the scenes from the Epic of Ramayana and Mahabharata, as explained by our tour guide, a university student majoring in History. 

The ‘swimming pool’ (LOL) where they carried out their religious rituals. 
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The library where the members of the royal family  received their education. Too bad no more books inside.
The compound.
Imagine the King and his entourage strolling about on this very road.

Moving on to Bayon and Ta Phrom 

Bayon at Angkor Thom, built by Jayavarman VII in the late 12th- early 13th century. 

Historical edifices
The face of Jayavarman VII, correct me if I’m wrong. It’s like the Sphinx. 

Moving on to Ta Phrom, where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was shot. 

Ta Phrom, and the iconic tree from Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider

The Banyan tree
Restoration works in progress.
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The Angkor Wat and its surrounding complexes are really massive! We almost got lost finding our way out of Ta Phrom, LOL. The place is like a maze, and it was dark inside. I’m happy that I had finally set my foot at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, after reading about it, and looking at its picture from my Sejarah Tingkatan 1 textbook: Kerajaan Agraria dan Maritim. I think Angkor was a Kerajaan Agraria. Hahaha. And I think Puan Rosnah, my Form 1 Sejarah teacher would be proud of me. xD 
Another highlight would be cruising on the Tonle Sap (Sap=Lake), witnessing the spectacular view of sunset, and visiting a Floating School there! 

One of the many houses in the floating village of Tonle Sap. There is a school, sundry shop and even a police station in this village, all floating on the lake. The villagers lead a simple life here. Having only a house each as their most prized property, these houses would often get destroyed during the erratic monsoon seasons. The lake would become shallow during persistently hot climate and you could just walk with your feet at the bottom of the lake, the water level reaching only up to your waist. Of course, it depends on your height as well!

One of our guides grew up in the Tonle Sap floating village, and he brought us to his school. 

Floating School

A real life floating school! Just like in the Thai movie ‘Teacher’s Diary’! 

There were several kids here (the rest already went home) and an elderly teacher. Unfortunately, only two subjects were taught here- the Cambodian and Vietnamese languages. Someone should teach them Math and Science! 

One of the classrooms

With the two children from this school. Some of the kids stayed in the school (as they are orphans) while some went to school in the morning and went home when the school session was over. You could donate rice and some of the necessities to the children of this school by buying them from the sundry shop at this village. 
Waiting for the sunset…..

No filter. The view was this picturesque! 

Other than that, we went to the War Museum, learning about the sad and tragic history of the Cambodian People. Let’s just say that the Cambodians had been oppressed and repressed from the dictatorship of Pol Pot and the horrifying Khmer Rouge regime, and until now, they are still being mentally oppressed by the Vietnam government. Wow, should I even be talking about such sensitive issues here? Wonder why they still have to use the USD currency? They have debts to pay to the USA, as a result from all those spent during the Cambodian Civil War. Again, correct me if I’m wrong. 

Listening in full concentration,LOL. 
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And to the Cambodian Cultural Village and Museum. Did you know that they even have a Malay Champa village here?! There are Malays in Cambodia. After all, our roots could be traced to the same origin. Malaysian Malays, Indonesian Malays, and the list goes on. 

Spot one of the actors who wore a baju Melayu with kain pelekat sampin! 

Another entertaining show from another village. 

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The night cultural show about the history of Cambodia. I don’t understand a word of the Khmer language, thankfully we have Hady, our tuk-tuk driver to translate to us what’s happening in each scene. Like, why is that woman crying in destitution? Or why  is everybody suddenly started fighting? 
Other than that, we just explored around the town/city of Siem Reap, the night markets, the boring silk museum, sampling authentic Halal Cambodian foods, visiting one of the mosques there and well, my father taught us how to eat the lotus seeds from the lotus pod! 

Our tuk-tuk, and the Lotus Pond 
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Not for those suffering from Trypophobia . It actually tastes good and quite crunchy!!!

Goodbye Cambodia! 
Final thoughts: Needless to say, Cambodia enchanted me with its rich culture and history. Being a history buff, it delights me to have been given the opportunity of strolling into the magnificent Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Phrom, reliving the historical events that I had read and learned from my school days. Other than what I had learned from the textbook, I had also gained new insights on the devastating history of Cambodia and its equally devastating current political situation, told by its citizens. Siem Reap is a relatively safe place to visit. We also had a very helpful and kind tuk-tuk driver who patiently drove us around Siem Reap, helping us to get a taste of the local culture. I’d recommend Hady to anyone who wishes to venture and explore Siem Reap. Do tell me if you want his number, haha. 
And that is all from my Angkor Adventure! I shall one day, make a post about my trip to Japan, insya Allah! Don’t count too much on it though, LOL. 

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