Wat: a type of Buddhist or Hindu Temple depending on the country you're in.
We've seen so many in the last week that Fay has inquired daily, "How many more temples do we have to see?" They've all been so spectacular it's hard not to be amazed and want to see them all. Here's a small sample of them.
Fay was flipping out for Angkor Wat, the biggest and most well known temple of Siem Reap. She thought it would b fun to see them upside down!
Where we've been this week: Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (both in Cambodia) and now Chiang Mai, Thailand (in the Northern region of the country).
We finished our time in Phnom Penh with a sunset cruise. However, of the last 3 sunset cruises we've taken in various locales, we haven't actually seen one sunset due to clouds that keep "raining on our parade." Yet it was cool to float along on the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers which traverse through the city.
Fay loved the cruise mocktails for our final night celebration in Phnom Penh. We'll miss the vibrant feel of the city but we were ready to head north and see the historical temples near Siem Reap.
We arrived in Siem Reap after a 6 hour smooth bus ride so we could see Angkor, the capital city of the Khmer Empire over a thousand years ago.
We booked a tour for two days with a wonderfully knowledgeable guide, Sopheap (in the yellow), and our great Tuk Tuk driver, Nian. Fay was more excited by the Tuk Tuk and not having to walk to all of the Temples.
We started at Angkor Wat, the enormous Buddhist temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. It was so impressive that it's hard to capture in words and pictures. You'll just have to visit yourselves one day if you haven't already! Make it a spot on your Bucket List.
If you want more pictures (and Fay flips :), let me know and I'll send you the link to our Cambodia pics. There are way too many to put in the Blog.
Fay took advantage of any chance she got to flip in front of a temple and she asked that I include as many as possible into this post.
We also got to turn into a Naga (a 7 or 9 headed snake that protects the temples).
We visited Angkor Thom- this is the North Gate entrance. Notice the faces carved in the limestone over our heads. There are 5 holy Gateways into Ankgor Thom and all have 4 faces pointing in the cardinal directions. They were built in the late 12th century. I can't imagine any current building holding up over the ages like these structures!
Ta Phrom was one of our favorite temples! It is one of the oldest temples in Angkor and one of the most fascinating, It was the monastery of the King and is now being taken over by Kapok trees.
It may be recognizable to you as the temple from the movie Tomb Raider 3 with Angelina Jolie. So fascinating how these enormous trees have worked their ways through the small nooks and crannies of these ancient buildings.
Sopheap was not only an amazing guide, he also knew how to take a great Panoramic picture! These trees are unbelievable, reaching 70 ft tall!
We encountered a number of Macaque monkeys hanging around the temples.
They looked a little sad because people are no longer allowed to feed them. However, it's better for their relationship with humans since they became reliant on human food and started stealing!
We also saw some Elephants but they were made of stone. We'll hopefully see some real ones in Thailand.
Fay made friends with the Temple butterflies. She had many land on her! It added to the magic of the place.
After lots of hiking, we stopped for a lunch break and I got my favorite drink here- Coconut water! This was the biggest coconut yet!
Our final temple of the tour was the Pink temple., a 10th century Hindu temple. It was so intricately designed that it is known as "the jewel of Khmer art". This stop was one of the most impressive because of all the detail work that was carved into stone. We were in awe of all the incredible Khmer Art.
Then we went to the circus in Siem Reap for another type of Cambodian art form!
The Phare Circus (a Circus with a Purpose) was full of high flying acrobatics and live music (you can see the band in the back). We were so impressed by their skills that now Fay wants to take circus classes on top of her gymnastics classes! They also have a social mission to educate young people in the arts of Cambodia as well as pay for kids schooling that can't afford it.
We got to take a picture with the whole cast afterwards! They all graduated from the arts school related to the Non-profit school. It was a wonderful way to spend our final night in Siem Reap. Then we headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand!
Thailand definitely has more Western influences than the other places we've been. There was a McDonald's, Burger King, Krispy Kreme Donut Shop, and a Garrett's Popcorn in the Bangkok airport! And they all had long lines! We couldn't even find Thai food to eat for lunch there. Even though Thailand has never been colonized by another country like Cambodia and Vietnam, they have been infiltrated by Western food and drink chains way more than other places.
Every other store in Chiang Mai is either a massage parlor, a hotel, a restaurant, a tattoo shop, or a weed shop (marijuana dispensaries became legal here in 2022 and now there are stores selling it everywhere!) all serving tourists. There aren't many places where the locals could shop in the old city which is now more for visitors than actual Thai people.
This weed shop was located across the street from a huge and impressive Wat. That being said, mixed in with all these shops are so many beautiful Wats for worshiping Buddha. I think we counted at least one on every block (I have lots of pics of these if you want- my Thailand Album is starting full of Wats!).
We visited the Wat Phra Singh Temple which has one of the most famous Buddha statues and was built in 1345. Fay keeps asking us if we were born then. We keep telling her, "We're not THAT old!" ;)
This Golden Buddha or Lion Buddha is the north's most revered statues and many people come to worship it from all over the world. You can see a picture of the Queen of Thailand on the right.
There was also a golden Stupa near the temple that was so impressive, especially the elephants coming out of the side. We haven't seen that many monks here compared to Cambodia.
But we did find ice cream- Coconut flavor with Mangoes! Yummy!
Tomorrow we're going to visit an elephant refuge and hike up some Sticky Waterfalls! Thursday we will take a bike tour through a Lanna village, stop for lunch, and visit a local school. These are a few of the reasons we chose to start in the north of Thailand. There are really interesting historical sights as well as unique natural wonders!
See you next week with more pics, probably many of me hugging an elephant and never letting go!