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Sunday, 01 November 2015

Impressions of Indochina - Page 3

Written by Mona Thomas
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    If you only have the chance to visit one place in Cambodia, it has to be Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor. If Vietnam has been influenced by China, then Cambodia has had more of an Indian influence.  Hence, these two countries although entwined by history and location, have very different vibes. The Temples of Angkor are a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism and in the Khmer language you will find traces of the ancient Indian languages, Sanskrit and Pali. 


   You will huff and puff and wilt in the intense heat and humidity as you walk through the temples but the hard work is worth it. The complex of Angkor is the remains of the political, social and religious center of the ancient Khmer empire. Most of us have seen pictures of Angkor and it is as grandiose in real life if not more. There is Ta Prohm, often referred to as The Indiana Jones Temple where nature is running riot over the ruins and it is surreal to see enormous trees and their roots growing out of and over the temples. Then there is Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer empire where gigantic faces, called Bayon, smile down at you in a beatific manner from all sides. There are a total of 216 of these enigmatic faces. Angkor Wat is the star attraction of the complex as it is the best restored and is also the world’s largest religious building. My personal favorite is Banteay Srei, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, for its intricate and delicate carvings in a pinkish hued stone. It is a fine example of Angkorian art. As I stood staring at this majestic evidence of ancient human enterprise and creativity, I could not help but wonder how long our modern architectural wonders would remain standing without continuous human assistance.


Ta Phrom Siem Reap


   Siem Reap is the town that supports Angkor. It has the inevitable hustle and bustle of tourism but is still charming. Pub Street is the main strip. Khmer cuisine is somewhat similar to Thai cuisine and for those who are not too good with their chilies, it is usually offered less spicy to tourists in most places. However, if you are after the hot stuff, you can easily amp up the taste by asking for more chilies on the side. Cambodia and its people have gone through hell and back but the spirit of the people and their smiles will humble you. 


   Two weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia gives you a wonderful taste of Indochina and whets your appetite for more. Our world is vast and beautiful and there is too much to see in too little time. But who knows, maybe I will be lured back and find myself once again on the streets of Hanoi sipping Bia hoi! 

 Ben Thanh Market

© April 2015

This is the sole property of Mona Thomas and cannot be copied, reproduced or sold in any format without her express permission.




(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 01 November 2015

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