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Touring Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia


Although Siem Reap was a bit cooler and drier than Phnom Penh and the last few cities I've been in, the pool was a welcome, unexpected bonus with my $15.00US/night room at the Freedom Hotel.

After a small situation with my passport, I hooked up with the guide that I had been referred to. He likes to go counter to the big tours, entering from the less popular entrances, at the opposite times of the day. We entered Ta Prohm temple from this gate.


If I have it right, up until the middle 1800's, the whole complex was unknown to Westerners. It had been partially reclaimed by the jungle. Once they began preserving the temples, they began removing trees as part of that process. In this particular temple, Ta Prohm, they've left the trees in place to great effect. For Dad, the tree in the middle is called spung, or tetrameles nudiflora datiscaceae.



He suggested we go to a buffet for dinner, which included traditional dances afterward.


The following day, we went to Angkor Wat itself, which is the modern name for the temple originally dedicated to Vishnu. This is the central tower, and the very steep steps to get up to the top level, known as the 3rd gallery.


Enjoying the view near the top of the stairs.


Originally, this temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, then as the area turned more toward Buddhism, Buddhas were brought in as well. According to my guide, most Cambodians would say that they are Buddhist, but actually incorporate practices and beliefs from Hinduism and the ancient animal spirit religion.


Because we entered from the less popular gate, we saw this view last.


For lunch, another version of smoked fish and green mango salad, somewhat similar to somtom (Thai green papaya salad).


Chicken curry served in a young coconut.


In the afternoon, we headed about 10km away from Angkor. I didn't get the proper name for this temple, but I believe he referred to it as the Pink Palace.


Besides being from a different kind of stone, the carving style is somewhat different, with some finer detail, but smaller in scale overall.


The last place I got to see was Bayon temple. As with the Vishnu temple, the bas relief carvings encircle the entire temple on the first level. But whereas the Vishnu temple depicts metaphysical stories, good and evil gods, and heroic epics, this temple depicts historical events. Here, after a great battle is won against the Champa muslims, they celebrate with a grand banquet, including satay (grilled, skewered meat).


It's quite an extraordinary place, and I'd like to come back someday.


Fabulous pics - thanks for sharing!

I notice you've been descriptive about the food, but sparing on judgment comments. I imagine that must partly be due to your desire to be open minded and impartial as you taste and explore.

Are you finding lots of inspiration for the concept/menu for your venture?

You're right, I'm trying to keep an open mind, and think about the food on it's own terms first, and form my personal opinions second. I try to really notice everything I can about the dish as it was intended. Then I think about what I might do differently - e.g. that the flavor in a dish was good, but maybe some aspect of the technique could be tweaked to create a better result. For better or worse, that's how I operate.

Overall, the trip is difficult in that I wasn't able to prepare for so many countries right in a row the way that might have focussed on one country or region. Any one of these countries could easily merit several weeks of exploring and tasting before you could claim any real familiarity with the dishes and the styles. Plus there's the traveller's dilemma of not really knowing whether what I tasted on any particular day is representative of the area or dish. Or perhaps the stall next to the one I chose was better. Some people just say, it's either it's good or it isn't, or you like it or you don't, but that's not the kind of approach I want to use as a cook.

Don't even get me started about the authenticity issue.

IMHO, unless you have a local to guide you, (which I haven't always had) the number of vendors or restaurants is simply astounding, making it almost impossible to know the range AND the variations. In a way, I've sorta given up on all of that and am just thinking of this as an imperfect overview and random sampling of these cuisines.

Even with all that intellectual baggage, I have been getting tons of ideas. I am far from expert in any of these cuisines, but I hope that I will have learned enough to make respectful and well-considered interpretations of the dishes I've enjoyed.

Also, some of the judgement comments may become what differentiates our venture from others, so I'm not ready to discuss them here. But certainly if you have a question, please ask it.

Sorry, I'm overthinking it, but I always overthink everything.

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