Saturday, November 25, 2006

Apsara Dancing

On one of our last night in Siem Reap we were able to get a couple babysitters and head out to dinner and to see the traditional Khemer dancing called Apsara. We had a lovely dinner and the dancing was amazing! Each dance told a story and this particular dance was called a Fisherman's Dance. Here is what our program told us about the dance:

The rural entertainment dance is a lesson of love and courtesy. It depicts, while exaggerating them, boys' and girls' attitudes to love and courtship. The dance shows a tenacious and mischievous boy courting a shy and earnest young girl.


This was the final performance and everyone came out to take a bow. The costumes were beautiful and the gracefulness of the dancers was amazing! There was a live band playing for the show and it was amazing music.


Jonny with the two monkeys from the show.

Banteay Srei

Another beautiful temple we went to see during our stay in Siem Reap was Banteay Srei. It was quite different than the others because of its pink sandstone.



Gemma and a friend she met during our tour.


It also seemed to be the best preserved of all of the temples.


Gemma and Angus striking a pose.


Angus and Gemma listening to the band.

This was one of the landmine bands that were at the different temples in Siem Reap. There are thousands of landmine victims in Cambodia. There is an estimated 3 million active landmines still in Cambodia and an average of 2-3 people killed every day by landmines. These people in the band are landmine victims wanting to make an honest living, so the play their instruments and sell their cd to tourist to raise money.

During our trip to Siem Reap seeing the victims of landmines was probably the hardest thing that we have ever seen during our travels. I do have to say that our visit to Cambodia was one of our favorite trips. I think mostly because of the human spirit of the Cambodian people. I found a great website about landmines in Cambodia if you would like further information. Please check it out: .

Ta Prohm

Another cool temple we visited during our stay in Angkor was Ta Prohm. The previous day they received quite a bit of water, so we walked through the water to get to the temples. There were many locals sitting by the water watching their kids take a dip to cool off.



Gemma posing outside of Ta Prohm also known as the 'Jungle Temple'.


Here is one of the voracious trees called Strangler Figs that have overtaken the temple.



A family photo by one of the trees.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Walled City of Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple


The family in the front of one of the four gates of Angkor Thom.

One of our outings was to the walled city and capital of Angkor of Angkor Thom. Here is a little information on Angkor Thom.

Angkor Thom, the “Great Walled City” and capital of Angkor, was built by Angkor’s greatest king, Jayavarman VII and covered some 10 square kilometers (almost 4 square miles). It was enclosed by a square wall 8 meters (26 feet) high and 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) in length, topped by a terrace to hold troops when defending the city, and surrounded by a moat 100 meters (328 feet) wide which was said to have been inhabited by savage crocodiles. Four huge gates, each high enough to accommodate an elephant and riders, faced in each direction. Huge carvings of four-faced heads and three-headed elephants mounted watch in all directions.


Here are the guards of Angkor Thom holding a giant serpent. You can see one of them is missing a head. Jonny and Angus decided to replace the head.


Angus standing next to a giant banyan tree inside the walled city.


Here is Bayon Temple which is in the center of Angkor Thom. Bayon was my favorite temple in Siem Reap.



The temple is best known today for the gigantic face sculptures that adorn its thirty-seven surviving towers. Facing in four directions on each tower, the faces are thought to represent Lokeshvara, a Buddhist deity that projected benevolence outward to the four directions.


An intricate stone carving.


Gemma exploring the temple.


Angus and Jonny in Bayon.


A family photo outside of Bayon.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Siem Reap city center


Gemma and Angus on tuk tuk. This was how we got around Siem Reap during our visit.

I am still in the process of getting all of our pictures posted from our trip to Siem Reap. It was such a great vacation for us and we really enjoyed our time there I really wanted to make sure to share my photos.


On our way into town, they had gotten quite a bit of rain and their drainage system wasn't quite up for the job.



There was a great market in the city center which was part wet market, part souvenir, arts and crafty stuff. We spent many days walking around checking things out. Angus was quite intrigued by the pig's heads while I was quite intrigued with all of the beautiful silk!

We spent quite a bit of time in the city center shopping and eating fabulous food! They had a great selection of food from all around Asia. We ate their traditional Khemer food, which I thought was really nice tasting and very different from Chinese, Thai, and Indian food. Jonny ordered a dish and when it came out with a little bit of cheese on top I thought it was very strange for Asian food. I guess the cheese comes from the French who first colonized Cambodia.


We were walking down the street and I saw this woman with a basket on her head. We got a little closer and realized it was a basket of crabs on her head!


We took a stroll besides the river and their were lots of Buddhist monks walking by. I thought it was such a peaceful beautiful site.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Angkor Wat?

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Gorgeous Angkor Wat! I never dreamed I would see this in person!

We decided to do most of our sightseeing on the first 3 days of our visit. You can buy a 3 day temple pass which give you access to all of the temples in and around Siem Reap. I have always wanted to see the very famous Angkor Wat temple, so of course that was the first one we visited. We went out to the temple around 5 pm in the evening to buy the pass that would get us in during sunset plus give us a full 3 days to see all of the temples. We were able to to walk around the outside of the temple for about an hour before sunset. We were able to get these great photos.

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The causeway up to the temple.

The day after we picked up the tickets we headed to explore the temple first thing. It was amazing and beautiful. It was also a very hot and humid day with lots of tourist trying to check out the most popular of the Khemer temples. There was beautiful scenery and the stone carving was just magnificent! I just can't imagine how long it took to move the sandstone and carve the temple in such intricate detail.

Here is a bit of history behind Angkor Wat:

Regarded as the supreme masterpiece of Khmer architecture, it is a huge pyramid temple built by Suryavarman II between 1113 A.D. and 1150 A.D. It is surrounded by a moat 570 feet wide and about four miles long. The mass of bas-relief carving is of the highest quality and the most beautifully executed in Angkor.


Here we are before we walk into the main part of the temple.

An interesting fact about the temple is by 1431 Angkor Wat was abandoned and it wasn't until 1860 it was rediscovered again by a French botanist.


A view from inside the temple.


To get to the top of most parts of the temple you had to climb these 75 degree angle stairs. We didn't even attempt it here.


There was a handrail by these stairs, so we decided to try our luck.


Here are the kids trying to meet Jonny who is coming down the stairs.



Jonny climbing down.


A view from the top of the stairs.


A view of the backside of the front of the temple from the top of the stairs.


After our tour we had our pictures taken with some Hindu gods.

I have to say when we were in Siem Reap I was surprised by all the tourist. I thought we were visiting somewhere unique that not many people have visited. Last week I was surprised to find an article in National Geographic Traveler about UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) World Heritage sites, including Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat rated #32 on the list of Worst Destinations because of mass tourism in the ruins and development. I have read in Time magazine that they also have a huge problem with corruption in their government. I now feel kind of guilty for climbing all over the ruins, but I am glad that magazine's like National Geographic and Time are bringing it to our attention. I just hope that the people who own Angkor Wat, which I believe is not the government, but a very rich Japanese person, do something about the masses of people who try to climb up and down these stairs.

Trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia

It has taken me a while to post these pictures from our trip to Siem Reap the first week of October, but I definitely thought better late then never because some of the sights that we saw were amazing.


Me and the kids getting on the plane on the way to Siem Reap.

We arrived late afternoon on Sunday and checked into our Bed and Breakfast. We were thoroughly impressed with our B&B! It was perfect for a family with two kids. We had a villa to ourselves with a mini-kitchen with breakfast bar, living area, two bathrooms, and a master bedroom.

Here are a few photos of the place:


Our villa!


The pool from our balcony.


Jonny and the kids swimming.


The master suite.


The living area.

After we got settled we headed into the city center for dinner. We had a lovely Indian meal, but we were fading fast. We walked to a convenience store to by a few things for our refrigerator and Angus made friends with the locals.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

The End of Jeanette's Trip to PRC


We had a lovely time hosting Jeanette here in Chengdu and I hope that she enjoyed herself. I know it was definitely a cultural experience of a lifetime and not exactly for the unadventurous types. I have a few photos of our tour of one of the Daoist temples called Qing Yang Gong. Daoism is based on having balance in one's life. Feng Shui is based on Daoism teachings and that is where we get the Ying and Yang.



This is probably my most favorite picture I have ever taken. I think I will get it blown up. When I asked this man if Gemma could have a picture with him he sat up so proud and posed for us. Gemma was really intrigued by this interesting and very cute old man.



Jeanette's with a Daoist monk.


(Here is my first attempt of posting video!)

Inside the temple was a shop with Chinese musical instruments. Here is a girl playing the Chinese piano.

After our trip to the temple we took a trip to my favorite market for Jeanette to buy some gifts for her friends back in the U.S.


Here some locals enjoying a game of mah jong. You see people playing this game all over Chengdu.


A cute little baby boy not very happy with me.


Gemma always give the girls a hand with their work when she is at the market. She is either trying to bargain for jewelry or trying to sell things. I think she is trying to make a necklace here.


Gemma observing a card game. This is probably the 2nd most favorite game for the locals.

We hope that you enjoyed our pictures of Jeanette's trip and I hope they encourage you to visit us! We already have about 5 people signed up for next year, but would love to have more people.