The Magnificent Mekong Day 16

Our Angkor Wat pass was still good so today we visited Angkor Thom. It was the last capital of the Khmer Empire and was well fortified. Angkor Thom when translated from the Khmer language meant “Great Kingdom”. It was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.

Five bridges lead into Angkor Thom and they were identical in length, width, and height. Each bridge was decorated with carved stone balustrades that depicted larger than life-sized figures of gods and demons. There were 54 gods on the left and 54 demons on the right.

As we entered we saw a lot of archeological digs happening.

Many of the structures here were made of wood so they were gone. The remaining stone monuments illustrated how magnificent the city was within its walls.

Bayon temple was located in the city of Angkor Thom. It was built almost 100 years after Angkor Wat. Bayon had 216 large smiling faces from 37 towers. The Bayon had three levels. We could not visit the third level due to safety reasons.

Along the temple was a bas-relief that depicted the Khmer Army March.

We walked over to the Terrace of the Elephants. It was part of the walled city of Angkor Thom. It was mainly decorated with carved elephants. It also had a viewing platform for the king to watch his army returning through the grassy field. This wall was once attached to the royal palace.

Then we walked through the Terrace of the Leper King. It was located north of the Terrace of the Elephants. It had bas-reliefs on the Interior and exterior walls and stood almost 23 feet tall. There was speculation of why it was named the Leper King. Most believe it was because one of the former kings had leprosy. The statue of the Leper King was a replica because the original was in a museum in Phenm Penh.

This afternoon we visited H.V.T.O. (Homestay Volunteer Teachers Organization) school. This “school” supplemented the public school education of the rural Cambodians. It was founded by Sim Piseth. He was one of our Cambodian Guides and he wanted to give back to his village. Viking helped this school financially.

When we visited two 14 year old girls picked us and took us around the school grounds and practiced their English!

Our guides and readers

They then showed us the library and picked the book Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss. They took turns reading the book to us.

We went with them into the various classrooms. Some of the classes sang a song in English, another did the ABCs, and others explained what they were learning. It was a wonderful afternoon.

In one of the classes a little 8 year old girl came up to me and handed a beautiful picture that she had drawn.

Before we left one of the girls gave us her handwritten biography! It was so special.

Our dinner was at the Mahob restaurant. As the servers were delivering the main course, the lights went out! It wasn’t just at the restaurant but the entire city of Siem Reap! Another guest told us the power had gone off twice in the afternoon. It must be fairly common because the restaurant had battery backup lights to give us a little light and we also used the flashlight on our phones!

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