maandag 2 november 2009
Look at the statues in the background.
Since the political situation in Cambodia was unstable (after the French left in the 1950's) lots of artifacts were stolen, amongst them lots of heads from these statues.
Mount Popa, religious place in Burma.
The mountain is about 1500 meters high. It has not only lots of Buddha statues but is famous too because of the "Nats" (holy spirits) to which people pray to help to make them rich, stay healthy, get beautiful children, grow old, etc.
It is the place in the whole of Burma to pray to the "Nats".
We have now the possibillity to ujpload some pictures. This is one of the bigger pagoda's in "Old Bagan", a 16 square mile place with more than 4000 religiuous buildings.
The smallest are only 3 meters high and the tallest more than 50 meters.
"Old Bagan" is the old city where the people used to live. Since the military took over the people were moved - around 1990 - to "new Bagan" and they had only ten days to move, find a home (which had to be built), install watersystems, etc. etc.
We are still in SIEM REAP.
This is the 3rd. day and it is raining very hard. It is the first day it is raining
since we left Holland.
Luckily we didn't make reservations to visit some temples today..........and
since it is raining we do something else.
Ankie is going to get a footmassage and I am going to read or talk to some
other hotel guests or so.
Yesterday we visited other temples than the two most famous ones.
- Chau Say Tevoda (in restoration by the Chinese; friends of Cambodia)
- Thommanon (restored in its old glory by the French)
- Ta Keo temple (the first temple to be built of sandstone)
- Ta Prohm (it is still exactly as it was found 150 years ago, overgrown with
- Banteay Kdei (a Budhist monastery with on most of the pillars an image
of a lady dancer (Apsara) which make you think what the monks were
thinking of at the time)
- Srah Srang (a manmade lake - huge - for the ritual bathing of the royal
family of king (here we go) Rajendravarman II
- Prasat Kravan (a Hindu temple with images of Lakshmi and Vishnu).
When I am home I'll have every reader do an exam about these temples and
the winner gets a prize (a warm hand and or kisses depending on who the
We went by Tjuk tjuk, a motorbike with a sort of riksha at the back.
This kind of transportation is popular because it is cheap*, makes driving in
the heat more comfortable and it is not going too fast.
When something is cheap we like it very much (the Dutch).
Something really amazing is that practically all the cars, motorbikes (all
vehicles with a engine) make no noise at all; this totally different from
other countries like - for instance - Thailand.
And almost no honking too.
Food is good here. We have good breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
You can get almost everything you want so we can choose all sorts of
food we like chicken liver (which I like).
Yesterday afternoon we went to the river (also called Siem Reap) for the
boatraces. These days they celebrate their Waterfestival which has to do
with the fool moon.
It was very crowded along the river.
We saw the races and it was fun seeing the people enjoying everything.
We visited the Old Market and bought little trinkets to bring back home.
In the evening (we went back to the river) there are lots of activities like
looking at the local bands (the music totally different from
what we were or are used to), selling all kinds of foods (also the fried
cockroaches again – getverderrie -), fruits, drinks and little floating
candleholders (with – guess what – candles) which didn’t burn because
there was alas to much wind.
In the afternoon it was crowded but in the evening it seemed that all the
people of Siem Reap and surrounding villages came to celebrate along
the river and look at the fireworks.
This is my account of our second and third day in Siem Reap.
Now I have to find the means to get this on my blog and……. when you
are able to read this, I have succeeded in doing so.
Greetings now from a wet Cambodia.
Siem Reap means: The place where the Siamese (Siem) were slain (Reap) by
the Khmers at the time.
The flight was on time and took only little more than one hour.
Before that we flew in about one hour from Yangon to Bangkok where we had to
stay for about three hours. Our suitcases were labelled through, so no carrying
of them or waiting at the luggage/baggage(what is the difference?)belt.
At the airport, as usual, there were people waiting for us who brought us to our
hotel, the Casa Angkor Hotel.
Today (Sunday 1st. November) starting early we visited Angkor Thom with the
Bayon Temple and Angkor Wat. These temples were built 1000 years ago by
Khmer Kings who were powerfull because they were able to have their people
harvest rice twice a year (the same as the Bagan Kings at their time in Burma).
They were rich because of that and it shows in their majestic temples in the
northwest of Cambodia.
These temples were created by Khmer kings form the 8th. till the 13th. century.
The most beautiful ones date from the 12th. century. The first famous king of
that time was Jayavarman II.
From the 15th. century the temples were abandoned by the kings and
subsequently forgotten until their rediscovery in 1861by a frenchman called
Angkor Wat (The temple of Angkor) seems to be the largest temple in the world
with a volume of stone, equaling the volume of the Cheops pyramid.
It is a 12th. century Hindu inspired temple which symmetrical towers (there are
now 5 but there were 9 towers) which are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag.
The building of the temple took some 40 years and is generally believed to have
been the funeral temple for the king at that time (Suryavarman II).
The temple has been occupied by budhist monks and is rather well preserved,
due to high quality building materials (very good quality sandstone). On its four
walls their are awesome bas reliefs showing Hindu tales of battles between the
good and the bad (the king with his monkey armies fighting the demons).
Angkor Thom (walled city) contains the famous Bayon Temple with the more
than 200 large mysterious smiling faces. It also contains the 300 meter long
elephant terrace with its large sculptured elephants.
In the same area you'll see the Leper Kings terrace with a statue of this king.
It was again very hot today and we drank a lot of water.
I am now writing at the hotel in our cool room (airco) and going to have a nap.
All is well, the food is good, the water - and beer - cold.
Alas no Ketel I over here.
Tonight we go to the river waterfront to look what is happening there.
Today there is now a waterfestival with boatraces, air balloons, dances and........
drinks (they say).
It is only some three hundred meters from our hotel and we will see.
Till the next time.
Driving or walking around in Burma is like really being in another world. A multitude of traditions, flawless hospitality, redstone and golden pagoda’s in green landscapes and genuine friendly people.
All visitors are invited to view the sun set from the top of one of the bigger pagoda’s. The atmosphere is beautiful when looking around to the other pagoda’s you can see everywhere in the fading light.
Something totally else.
In Burma workforce is very cheap. So everywhere you see lots of people doing chores which we in Holland do only with one of a few. In the restaurant next to our hotel in Yangon I counted no less than 13 people doing the waiting, cleaning the tables, taking orders. The restaurant has some 10 tables and not more. And….. I couldn’t look in the kitchen.
In the restaurant in Bagan, where we ate every night, there was at least one waiter or waitress per table. The laundry – a shirt and one pair of trousers – was brought by three men!
One more example of this phenomena (I hope I spelled this right). One morning we heard a lot of shouting and when we looked 19 man were measuring a long piece of land along the river. A cleaner of our bungalow explained that those guys were measuring pieces of land to grow peanuts. Apparently the rows of peanuts have to be so many yards apart from each other and this had to be pointed out. 19 man with poles, to stick in the ground (after measuring). It was really a sight.
What else is there to tell about our adventures in Burma?
Villages like ours but than 200 years ago or so (pigs, dogs, chickens, people living all together in a one room house of wooden structure with walls of woven bamboo and roofs with the leafs of the palm-trees). To keep the feet dry during the rainy season every house has a floor about one meter above the ground……and the roofs (I asked) don’t leak!!.
Trucks so old you are really surprised they still run.
Goats and cows on the highway on which you drive mostly not faster than 40 or 50 Km’s per hour because of the potholes in the road, the people (with animals) on the road on bikes or just walking.
The devotion to “The Lord Buddha” seems somehow unreal to us. But almost all the people we met and talked to were Buddhist and believed in reincarnation. If you try to do your best, be nice, do chores for others, take care of elders, the family, the monks, etc. the Buddha will make sure that you live a better next life than this one. Or something like that.
* apart from some pictures I still am not able to load up (no time or no internet or no electricity or the plugs don’t fit in the sockets or there are no sockets or there is no wifi or whatever).