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Showing posts from November, 2013

Temple of Dawn & Cold in Seoul

We did so much in our first full day in Bangkok that we were a bit burnt out on the third and final day. We had already done so much exploring and seen so much, but we had saved a couple of things for the final day: we began by walking down to one of the many piers along the river and caught a boat across to the Wang Kang pier where a market was bustling. It was a fun one to explore, as it was a bit different (a bit more clothing and odds and ends and a bit less pig entrails). We did that until we grew weary and then caught a couple more boats south down the river. Each crossing of the river by boat is brief and cheap (3 Baht) and quite pleasant.

We arrived at our final destination: Wat Arun, which means 'Temple of Dawn'. It is one of the oldest Wats in Bangkok and is very interesting as it is decorated with perfect symmetry of design largely out of broken pottery. It also has steep stairs that one can climb about half way up the outside. It isn't too far, but the stairs w…

Bangkok

Our first full day in Bankok was an active one. Betty Lou will tell you without any prompting that we walked for at least 10 hours. Fortunately, the weather was unexpectedly mild and pleasant.

We left our hotel after breakfast and walked a bit randomly, visiting a couple of stunning temples we stumbled upon. It was still quite early and they were empty except for us and a caretaker. Most of the temples we have visited here are more ornate than those in Cambodia, and there are fewer monks about. Just as lovely but different.
One temple was full of people making offerings and ther were tables laden with flowers, fruit, alcohol, small cigars, incense, and pig heads. The exterior of the temples were extremely ornate, with detailed designs and carvings of mythical and religious figures.




We then visited Wat Phra Kaewa nd the Grand Palace. The complex was simply amazing. It was brimming with temples and palace buildings and statues, all covered with detailed ornatmentation; it was such an ex…

Crossing into Thailand

We arrived at in Bangkok after what was not a six hour bus ride but a twelve hour journey involving two big busses, one mini bus, and numerous waits at the border and at dirty bus stops where people were selling fried cockroaches. The trip was long, but relatively uneventful. Even the walk across the Cambodian/Thai border was fine.

The Thai countryside was unremarkble, but we were interested to note that they do drive on the other side of the road in Thailand. (Since our stop in Thailand was so brief i did very little reading ahead of time.)

Getting into Bangkok, as we did quite late, it was dark and the traffic was monstrous. The minibus dropped us off on the side of a busy road and we hailed a tuk tuk to our hotel...and proceeded to spend another hour sitting in traffic. (The tuk tuks here are a bit fancier than in Cambodia and have windscreens - unfortunately, they also have much lower roofs, making them less comfortable for tall people.)
We arrived at our charming hotel - the Lamph…

Battambang

Battambang day two.
We had arranged a tuk tuk driver to take us around to the various sights i wanted to see which were outside of the city. Our driver called himself "Dollar" and proved to be a terrific guide for the day. He was handsome, spoke excellent english and was quite willing ti talk to us about his life now and previously when he was a monk, as well as his mother surviving the Khmer Rouge and his dream of moving to New York. He also gave us a lot of information about the sights.
Our first stop was the bamboo train. Cambodia has no trains; they were all decommissioned some time ago, but there is in Battambang, in one of the rural villages on the outskirts, one remaining train...of sorts. The bamboo train consists of a low platform of bamboo slats through which the ground is clearly visible. The platform sits atop two axles each with two metal wheels/cylinders. The contraption is powered by a small motor which seems to be operated with a wooden stick. There are no brak…

Siem Reap to Battambang

Our final day in Siem Reap was spent in town. Two full days of temples was enough to satisfy us and so we spent the fourth day shopping for souveniers in the market. There are so many beautful things, but of course one has only so much room at home and in one's suitcase, so we tried to limit ourselves. That being said, we have had to purchase a third bag to carry our purchases.

Betty Lou shopping the market amuses me greatly. Cambodia is a culture of bargaining. One never pays the first price and, while not mercilous, some haggling is expected. I enjoy this process; Betty Lou does not. While i play along with 'the whole, hesitate, walk away and name low prices as a starting point', she willinginly pays the first price, or, offen, she pays more. A shopkeeper asks $4 for a pair of earrings and Betty Lou pays $5, saying that they are worth more than the asking price. With this startegy in place, i am sure the merchants of Siem Reap were sad to see her go.
But go we did, after…

Temples - Day 2

Today we again had our tuk tuk driver Mr. Lum take us to temples. Today we did the 'grand tour', which was a longer ride through thr countryside, past fields of rice, and villages of simple open air homes of wood and thatched houses on stilts, with families outside, chooping wood, cooking dinner, and selling fruit. We passed one street of women stirring large calrdons of what we discovered was palm sugar which they made into delicous sweets. The ride was wonderful, although in the morning we did contend with a downpour, which left us wet and muddy.

I hobbled though the temples, and climbed over stairs and tree roots with great caution. Betty Lou seemed delighted that for once i was not walking at too brisk a pace, and could only amble.
All of the temples were lovely and each a bit different than the next. One was only accessily by walking on a long bridge over a picturesque swamp, another was built in a pyamid configuration, and another, Bantay Srei, was a glorious pink color …

Angkor Wat

On our second day in Siem Reap we hired a tuk tuk driver, Mr. Lum, to take us to the temples. The journey was not long but was wonderful, riding through the shady jungle streets in the tuk tuk, past troupes of monkeys, elephants, and roadside vendors selling coconuts, fruit and water.

We began by visiting Angkor Thom, of which the highlight is the Bayon temple, which is three levels structures with of dozens of faces, all of them huge and perfectly carved and identical to one another. It was spectacular to climb over the stones and in and around the temples' various rooms, some of which held buddhist or hindu shrines and were thick with incense smoke. There were many tour groups there, but it did not spoil our visit.





Let me say this of this temple and all that we visited so i need not repeat myself unnecessarily  all of the temples, are amazing. They bear many similarities: each is situated in the jungle and is surrounded by the forrest as well as counless smaller temples, statues, …