Monday, March 31, 2008

The Siem Reap Ruins

Before leaving Manila we already booked on-line in a guesthouse in Siem Reap, specified 2 separate rooms, hot shower, etc. Nimol was with us and decided strongly to give up the booking and look for another guesthouse. He is sure we can get a cheaper one because it is not the peak season. And we did. The Bunnath Guesthouse is small in front but is long at the back with more than 30 rooms. It is also near the major road. They also serve meals and arrange for tourist cars to the ruins and to the airport. The rooms are clean with 2 beds and cable TV, hot water and other normal amenities. The manager, Thann, is also very accomodating and friendly. We were comfortable and at home in Bunnath.
We have two full days and a half in Siem Reap, so we got a 2-day pass to the ruins. They have different price rates for locals and tourists. They check this pass, which include my picture in it, in every temple we visited. The system is fairly organized, and the guesthouses and hotels already have vehicles depending on the need of the guests. In our case, the tuktuk was a convenient and comfortable vehicle to use. The tuktuk drivers are also familiar which sites to visit depending on the guests' length of stay. They arranged visits to sites near each other and major or "must see sites".

These two pictures show some details of the gallery in Angkor Wat. The walls along the walk on the outside portion of the temple contain these details, some historical, some common things about their lives, about dieties, etc, etc. This 2nd picture is already shiny due to constant touching by tourists. Take note of the different headress styles of the Apsaras.

These are typical sites in the Siem Reap ruins. (The two men on the left are Marlowe and Nimol)

The temples were built from different kinds of materials, sometimes sandstones, others are bricks and other different stones. But most used laterite as structural materials and finished with more solid stones. Laterites are said to be soft in natural sources but hardens when air or sun-dried. They look like hardwoods eaten by termites, with holes and tunnels dispersed fully in the whole blocks.

The colors vary depending not only on the color of the stones used, but also on the seasons.

It is really amazing how the ancient people were able to put the stone blocks together in building high temples, which are sometimes even built on top of the mountains. Detailed observations showed some small protrusions on the rocks and a counterpart hollow on the adjacent rock to serve as hinges for the blocks not to slide and be kept in place. AMAZING!!!

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