Mid-September, 2010 and my Mom was visiting Singapore for a few weeks - proved to be a great opportunity to take her to Siem Reap, Cambodia to explore a truly beautiful countryside and and even more wonderful people
One of my favorite activities now is seeing first-hand all of the other cultures in this amazing world live - it truly brings better appreciate of life and our planet
What follows are photos of homes in Siem Reap and an excerpt titled "To Siem Reap - At Last" from "Cambodian Glory" by H.W. Ponder, London, 1936:
....so at last we came to Siem Reap : a town which even in the dry season is a pleasant oasis thanks to a primitive but effective irrigation system, probably exactly the same as that which enriched all riverside towns in the days of the Khmer kingdom's glory.
From the river bank, which the road follows, you can see a dozen or more creaking old bamboo wheels,
all slowly turning with the gentle current of the stream, lifting an endless succession of split-bamboo sections, fixed horizontally all round the double wheel,
each in turn pouring its contribution of a tiny trickle of sparkling water into a bigger bamboor or hollow lot, which acts as a channel to lead the water on to the thirsty land.
By this means all sorts of crops are grown, and the place is justly famed for its vegetables.
The fortunate residents enjoy not only the tropic varieties, but also those of temperate climates, introduced by the French.
I have never seen or eaten finer tomatoes than those grown by a French aquaintance in this town.
The post office, outside which we pulled up - our last stop before the journey's end - is a near, square white building,
standing back in a shady garden amid a wealth of palms, bananas, and flowering shrubs, surrounded by a pergola covered with bougainvillea, and backed by a row of tall kapok tree.
Here the last of our passengers, among whom were a Buddhist bonze bound for the local monastery, and a dignified elderly Chinese, bade us farewell, leaving only two Western barbarians to make the final stage of their pilgrimage.
Our Mecca was very near now. For five miles or so we travelled along a winding road through the forest, into whose depths, keyed up with anticipation, and uncertain how the first sight might reveal itself, we peered right and left, expecting to see we knew not what.
And then, sudddenly, the forest opened out. Far ahead, rising like strange, lovely giant blossoms from among their own foliage, there appeared above the vague green tree-tops of the jungle that stretched away into the distance,
a group of colossal grey-gold lotus-buds; mysterious and strangely delicate despite their immense size, shimmering in the golden haze that illumined the thousand exquisit pinnacles combined in each magically perfect whole :
...the towers that the natives believe were built not by man, but by the Gods - the crowning glory of the sanctuary of Angkor Wat
Entering through the gates - looking towards the glorious towers of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat - built in the early 12th centry and remains the largest religious monument on the planet
The temple is absolutely massive - the outer wall is 2.2 miles square - meaning, once passing through the main gate, it's almost a 1 mile walk to the temple's courtyard
One could spend almost an entire day in Angkor Wat - exploring every passageway and bas relief
The climb to the center tower
From the top of Angkor Wat with the Cambodian rainforest beyond
Looking from the top of Angkor Wat out towards the inner wall - the moat - and beyond that, the outer wall
A close-up of one of the 4 lower towers
The number of tourists to Angkor Wat is still only a fraction of what other ancient monuments see - which allows the opportunity to explore the entire temple at will and get up close to every detail
Some of the millions of carvings - all in great condition - one finds while walking through the passageways of Angkor Way
Another view from the top of Angkor Wat - looking down at the 2nd story courtyard
Some of the Buddhist temples inside Angkor Wat are still very much used
Angkor is one of those places that, when you sit there looking out towards the rainforest - it's surreal just being there
Looking up towards the top level of Angkor Wat.
The top level sits between the 4 lower towers - and surrounds the tallest (5th) tower