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Siem Reap Cambodia Discoveries

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Siem Reap Cambodia Discoveries

Off we go for the long ride back to Saigon .   We were rested and…the ride seemed much quicker.   We had a lovely lunch at at very good Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of the city,   Cordon Bleu, then went to the War Remnants Museum, which was disconcerting as it showed the atrocities of Agent Orange.   The Vietnamese are friendly to Americans, seeming to have forgotten that the Vietnam War killed 3 million of their people.   Site inspections included the historic Cavarelle Hotel ( a home for many war correspondents and diplomats during the war)  and the Park Hyyat Saigon.   Both hotels are  in convenient downtown locations.

Back to Saigon airport for our flight to Siem Reap Cambodia.

I’ll preface this part of the blog by saying we loved Cambodia! The people are calm, mild mannered and  friendly.   The traditional greeting of hold ones hands in prayer style in front of face and bowing is widely used.  It’s beautiful tradition, although I could never quite get the hang of it because my hands were always busy with bags, purse, umbrella, etc.

Many of our group had been to Siem Reap previously, so Steve and I hired a private guide and driver for 2 days.    We got up at 4 a.m. to depart the hotel at 5 a.m.. to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat…  Fantastic   We were the very first tourists to ascend to the third level of the Bayon Temple.   From there you look out over the whole of Angkor Wat, getting  a feeling of the enormity of the complex.   And to think that Angkor Thom (nearby) is 4 times larger.   Bas relief carvings are on nearly ever surface…telling stories of the time period.

Ankgor Thom is  known for its hugesmiling Buddha faces.     The third Temple  we visited,  Ta Prohm, was my favorite.    The temple architecture continues to be restored but the jungles intrusion is left in place.   Hence, there are photogenic tree roots consuming many of the buildings.   This is the temple where Tomb Raider was filmed.  And by the way, Angelina Jolie  stayed at the Amanresort in Siem Reap.

The second day we drove to the largest mountain in Cambodia called Phnom Kulen.  It’s  a holy place for Cambodian people.   The largest reclining Buddha in Cambodia is carved into a huge rock at the top of the mountain.  Part way up the mountain is the Thousand Lingas River where over a thousand phallic symbols are carved on the river bottom.    To top that off there is a world class waterfall .  The force of the water was scary, as was the rickety steep wooded ladder going down to the view the second level of the falls.

I love to look at hotels, I took a peek at the Aman, the Sofitel, the Park Hyatt,  Raffles, the Orient-Express La Residence via Tuk Tuk.

 

Our home for two nights in Siem Reap was the Shinta Mani.  It was my favorite of the trip!    It’s a smaller boutique property with exceptionally creative design by Bill Bensley.  He also designed the Park Hyatt Siem Reap, and many other award winning hotel properties.   With a business manta of “open doors, open hearts,” Shinta Mani runs an in-house tourism training school for underprivileged students from nearby villages.    Usually we love to try local restaurants but the food was so fabulous  at Shinta Mani that we ate our last 3 meals in Cambodia at the hotel.  Most memorable was the last dinner taken outdoors on a huge swinging day bed with lots of pillows!

 

 

 

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