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April 4th, 2011 at 04:32 am

This is the last picture show of the trip. For the Vietnam parts, click

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Cambodia, compared to Vietnam, was a challenge to understand. Compared to it during the Khmer Rouge year zero, it's improved ... but that's not saying much. Vietnam, not free, yet with an allowable free market and its corruption carefully hidden, gave us a handle for understanding. Cambodia, "free and democratic" in name only (Hun Sen is a dictator), is still desperately poor. Siem Riep is a tourist area (aka tourist trap), with the tourists providing most of economic activity. Our tour guide trained as a pediatric nurse, yet was paid so poorly that when tour guide came up, he leapt at it.

All of the temples had 20 or so small children (5yrs and up) come up to us, no one in school. They did try to sell us something, but then switched quickly to simple begging. A thousand years ago they were part of an empire of technical virtuosity and power. Now it's a "dollar dollar please madame".

Silk worm farm these little workers munching away are about a week from cocooning. About 10% of the cocoons are reserved to develop into moths to lay eggs and generate more worms.

Silk worm farm silk cocoons being spun into raw silk. Phooey, I ran out of batteries.

Angkor Thom: the face tower of Bayon. The inner temples were Hindu; when Buddhism swept in, later Khmer kings added Buddhist carvings on the outer gates. All temples were constructed in several parts. Core and foundation blocks were laterite soft to carve, but when exposed to the elements it turned rock hard. Sandstone blocks were set in and used as the finish. Intricate carving was done in situ carvers went to work after the sandstome was set in place. Incredible!

Angkor Thom: An impromptu temple inside the gates.

Ta Prohm: Jungle growth, anyone?

Angkor Wat: Khmer dancers in the inner courtyard. FYI - no bare shoulders in the temple. In other words, those tourists are NOT dressed properly.

Angkor Wat: The towers were a bit of a terrifying climb if you were afraid of heights (like me), but a view like this awaited you. Remember, all the carving was done after the finished block was set in place.

Banteay Srei: Incredible detail that was done after the finished block was set in place. I asked the tour guide what caused the black marks on the red sandstone. "Soot from burning" was the answer, which puzzled me. When we left on the bus, a sign about a 1/2 mile down the road stated, "This area is being burned as a first step to clear land mines." Turns out that this area was one of the last holdings of the Khmer Rouge.

2 Responses to “Cambodia”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    So cool, baselle. I've been waiting for a time when I could go through and look at everything, and you handily provided links to make it easy!

    I forget, did you post a financial entry about the trip? I'll have to go look at your old ones. I've been told with some trips like this, once you pay the airfare, the rest is surprisingly cheap.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Amazing! Thanks for the pictures and comments.

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