Well, we’ve officially disembarked from the Avalon Siem Reap. If you’ve ever wanted to cruise on the Mekong, I have to say, this is the way to do it. The views from your (comfy) bed are incredible, the food is out of this world, and the crew is fantastic. More about the ship later (but really, if you want to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, this is definitely the cruise for you).
On our last day on the ship, we took a motorcoach to the Silversmith Village of Konpong Louang. We saw talented craftsmen and women use age-old techniques to turn pure silver into works of art. The details in their pieces are simply amazing.
Another form of transportation in Southeast Asia is a ride in an ox cart, which we took past rice paddy fields and the beautiful Cambodian countryside. Along the way, we stopped to meet a local farmer and learn about his daily life.
But let’s get to the good stuff. Where am I today? We’re sightseeing on what is considered by many to be the most spectacular architectural ruins on Earth. Yes, I got to see the Temples of Angkor! First, we visited the Angkor Thom to see the Bayon Temple. One of the few Buddhist temples in Angkor, it features some 200 striking faces carved in 54 towers and impressive bas reliefs.
Next stop was the best preserved and most famous of all the temples, Angkor Wat. This temple honors the Hindu god Vishnu and features five trademark towers and stunning bas relief.
Today, we continued our sightseeing of the Angkor temples, and these temples have some major differences than the ones we visited yesterday. Unlike the other temples, Ta Prohm has been left relatively untouched. Tree roots grow over and through the ruin walls, allowing me to experience the temple with the same wonder as the early explorers who discovered it.
Banteay Srei is distinct because it was built on a small scale from red sandstone, which can be carved like wood. This unique temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
After an incredible experience at the Temples of Angkor, we spent the evening eating food that was fit for Khmer royalty and watching traditional performers in costumes dating back centuries.
I feel truly grateful for being able to experience all that Vietnam and Cambodia have to offer, and to be welcomed by the people here. In addition to having a wonderful time with Avalon, the people here have really made this trip one I will never forget. I am indebted to all who made this possible, to the children who were always delighted to see me, to the crew, the cruise director, to my fellow Avalon passengers.
Thank you. And thank you for following along on my trip! I’m heading back to America, and I can’t wait to take you with me on my travels again soon.
All photos courtesy of Danny Blair.