Day 16 - Friday, Nov 7, 2003
Siem Reap

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- Siem Reap -

9:45 AM 9:48 AM 9:53 AM 9:55 AM 10:08 AM 10:14 AM
Mr. Paul took Ruth (early morning) to the boat back to Phnom Penh where she'll then catch a bus to Sihanoukville.
Dodo and Dan met Claire for breakfast, walked downtown along river and through market - mangosteens! and free rambutans with mangosteen purchase! - then hired Mr. OK for $9 (gave him $10 at the end of the day) for a day's tuk-tuking the temple "Grand Circuit."

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- Through Angkor Thom -

10:49 AM 10:56 AM South Gate Monkey Elephant Terrace Elephant Terrace Terrace of the Leper King
North Gate
Most of the sites were smaller and way less crowded than A. Thom and A. Wat, so it was a lovely day of climbing around ruins.
37 heavens and 32 hells - Claire: "69, dude!"

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- Preah Khan -

11:12 AM 11:13 AM 11:15 AM 11:16 AM 11:20 AM 11:21 AM 11:26 AM
11:27 AM 11:28 AM 11:29 AM 11:30 AM 11:36 AM 11:40 AM 11:40 AM
11:46 AM 11:47 AM 11:47 AM 11:50 AM 11:54 AM 11:55 AM Women's Sanctuary
12:02 PM 12:05 PM 12:11 PM 12:12 PM 12:14 PM
12:15 PM 12:16 PM 12:16 PM 12:17 PM 12:18 PM 12:21 PM 12:28 PM
12:29 PM 12:29 PM 12:30 PM
Preah Khan - est. 1191. "Sacred sword" (Jayavarman VII's coronation name). Lokesvara is the savior god of Mahayana Buddhism, and symbolizes Jayavarman 7's dad. We climbed all around looking for the "women's sanctuary," nearly hidden in rubble in the northern part of this temple. Dan found it: 2 relief sculptures here are significant because they are carvings of specific women - the queen and her sister - rather than generic apsara dancers.

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- Neak Pean -

1:02 PM 1:02 PM 1:03 PM 1:04 PM 1:05 PM 1:11 PM 1:16 PM
Next stop: Neak Pean, down a very bumpy road. We were going to skip it, but our tuk-tuk driver insisted it was the next stop. He likes it - says more than once that it's the "symbol of Mt. Meru, surrounded by the four oceans." Gargoyles at the four corners are a man, a lion, a horse (ruined), and an elephant.

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- Ta Som -

1:41 PM 1:43 PM 1:44 PM 1:44 PM 1:45 PM 1:46 PM
1:55 PM
Ta Som: Buddha gate with the tree growing right up through it. Schoolgirls trying to sell scarves, they follow us right in, talking with Claire about school and such.

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- East Mebon -

2:18 PM 2:18 PM 2:20 PM 2:21 PM 2:23 PM 2:24 PM 2:26 PM
2:27 PM
East Mebon: guarded by life-sized elephant statues at the four corners. We've passed many termite mounds on the way, and this ruin has a termite-mound quality to it. Volcanic rock, porous. Cannas = big yellow flower, C. says they're all the rage back home.

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- Pre Rup -

2:39 PM 2:39 PM 2:40 PM 2:40 PM 2:41 PM 2:41 PM 2:41 PM
2:46 PM 2:47 PM
Pre Rup, mostly crumbling and scaffolded but very tall - nice views (water buffalo; women sitting on a wall; Angkor Wat tiny on the horizon).

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- Ta Prohm -

3:15 PM 3:15 PM 3:31 PM 3:32 PM 3:41 PM 3:48 PM
Then we went back to Ta Prohm - "Old Brahma," 1186 A.D. There was a white smoke in the air, adding to the allure. Claire and Dodo sat quietly in the magical ruins for a bit while Dan climbed around.
[No lunch today - we ate cashews and a mangosteen (sticky!) in the tuk-tuk, drank Aussie version of gatorade from the Lotus supermarket. More cashews and Dodo and Claire split a Luna bar at Ta Prohm.]

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- Bayon -

4:33 PM 4:34 PM 4:36 PM The Coveted Reflecting-Pool Photo 4:47 PM
Back to Bayon, where Claire took the coveted reflecting-pool photo...

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- Phnom Bakheng -

4:54 PM 5:02 PM 5:03 PM 5:05 PM 5:05 PM Claire's Picture 5:32 PM
5:33 PM 5:36 PM 5:42 PM 5:43 PM
Then we timed it right and joined the throngs climbing Phnom Bakheng hill to see the sunset, which amazingly included a rather elephant-shaped cloud across the red disk of the sun. We (and everyone else) walked back down on the elephant path instead of the steep irregular stairs we'd climbed before the sun set. Elephant dung looks like coconuts - green, near-spherical, and big. Traffic jam like 4th of July but more diverse, motorbikes with whole families, leaving after sunset. Then an Angkor beer at the hotel, toasting the success of the day, and we chatted with a fresh-faced Yank named Rebecca who's here with her mom (and Dodo assumes they're Xians even though there is no evidence whatsoever other than that fresh-scrubbed quality and getting on so well with her mom). Life is tres very bon.
Phnom Bakheng - temple to Shiva. This was the first in this complex, built on a natural hill. If there's no hill, Shiva temples have a tall foundation, to symbolize a mountain.

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Had dinner at Soup Dragon again (Claire ate this time, but later said it hadn't agreed with her still-skittish stomach) and gin & tonics at the Red Piano (Freddy Mercury on the DVD). Counting the Angkor beer as 2, Dodo had 6 drinks total; wasn't drunk but tipsy as we walked back to the guesthouse around 11:30; it was all locked up and Dodo had to shout through the gate for our nice mild host who was sleeping in a netting-covered hammock in the outdoor dining/TV area.

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