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Cambodia Trip Report, Part 1

Dec 13, 2017

Brad and I left Davao City in the evening of Friday, November 10, flying to Manila, where we spent the night at another Red Planet hotel. The next morning we got up early and took the plane to Siem Reap, Cambodia, with just one stop on the way (Guangzhou, China).

We arrived about sundown in Cambodia, where we were met by our friend, S----, who had arrived earlier that morning. Recall that he is Cambodian, but he lives near us in Minneapolis and that he is the one who had invited us to come with him to his home country. We spent the first night in Siem Reap. The room on the second floor cost $17.50. Here is the view of the street from the balcony outside of our room.

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We went out to eat supper at an upscale buffet that was also quite inexpensive by our western standards.

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The next day we went to Angkor Wat, the old temple-palace built in the jungle more than a thousand years ago. It is a popular tourist spot for people around the world. We got our tickets and took some photos at the ticket house. Pictured below is Brad and S----.

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Then we drove more than an hour to Angkor Wat. We were told that to build this community, the edges of a large lake were dredged, and the soil was placed in the center, forming land with a moat around it. Angkor Wat is more than just a building. It is an entire city, complete with farmland, so that invaders could not starve them out.

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Pictured below is the outer side of the moat, where there were many vendors selling souvenirs and a lot of food. I took this picture from the bridge into Angkor Wat itself.

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Below is the pontoon bridge into Angkor Wat.

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S---- took this picture as Brad and I crossed the bridge.

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Below is the main entrance when we came to the end of the bridge.

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There were a lot of monkeys, who tried to get us to pay for the privilege of entering their house. I was told that one had to be careful, because the monkeys liked to steal cell phones and cameras.

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Once inside this outer wall, I took this picture (below) of the wall from the inside.

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We then turned and walked about 200 yards toward the main palace.

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From the main entrance to the palace we had to walk about a quarter of a mile through the field and alongside a lake. The jungle lay just outside the perimeter.

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The palace itself is massive. The old stone structure, blackened by the weather, seems heavy and oppressive, but the carvings on virtually every square inch of wall space were impressive. The picture below is just the main entrance.

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Once inside, there is a large courtyard and more buildings.

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Below is an example of the stone columns with part of the written history carved in stone. Pictured is S---- and his fiancé. (Her brother and parents also came with us to Angkor Wat.)

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There was a long wall, which devoted about 30 feet of space to record the history of a long succession of kings and their exploits. In the center of the picture below, you can see one of the kings. Every 30 feet or so was a similar picture of another king.

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Walking around the palace, there were many towers and staircases.

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There were also many tourists.

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At this rock structure, which seemed to resemble an ancient altar, we were led to pray and have communion to reconcile and silence the voice of innocent blood. We discerned that there were 429,942 such voices at that place that had lodged complaints in the divine court.

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When our work was complete, we returned across the bridge to the parking lot, where the vendors wanted to sell us more than we wanted. We were refreshed and rehydrated by a few coconuts with straws in the top. The weather that day was overcast, as you can see from the pictures, so the temperature was not quite as hot. The humidity never seems to change, however, whether it is overcast or clear.

S---- then took us to other nearby sites. We began to realize that Angkor Wat was only one of more than a hundred old structures in the vicinity. At one time this had seen an entire civilization with roads leading to great stone estates and fortresses, all connected. It reminded me of what we saw in Honduras some years ago, only this was more extensive, the remnants of the capital of very large empire, stretching throughout all of Southeast Asia into China and west to India.


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Category: Trip Reports
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones