Sunday, September 28, 2014

The day of the Elephants!

Oh happy day the day of the elephants has finally arrived, I have been waiting for this. It is also our last day in Cambodia and although I still don't feel well am coughing a great deal and have some asthma, also I am so exhausted, this has been the most exacting trip we have even been on it is go go go from morning to night, every day. 
I am so excited about riding the elephant, I just love elephant rides, siding on the back of a great gentle beast lumbering along like the king of the castle!

We have another of our delicious breakfasts then back to pack our luggage ready to return home, then down stairs over the lake and on to the bus. Erle is not going with us, he has chosen to ride quad bikes around the paddy fields and out into the scrub behind the city.

We arrive to find lots of lovely small Black Asian Elephants awaiting us and masses of other tourist, they have the kind of seats that take two passengers, Christine teams up with Heinz and Peg and I team up for another one. 
There is sort of structure with lots of steps up to a small platform to help us get on board the animal. Much easier than some I have had to climb up the back leg to get on. 
There is a couple of people selling small green pineapples that apparently elephant love to eat as a special treat. Most elephants today are having special treats and loving them One bit and they disappear. 

 Ours definitely got her reward.


Our turn comes and we are both lined up and eager, Peg is on first and them me poor old elephant her name is Samba and she is 37 years old, the mahout tells me she has had many many baby calves in her life time, she is so gentle and obedient. 
We are off to wander slowly around the whole complex of Angkor Wat, and over the causeway into the complex at one point, through the forest also. 

Oh it is so wonderful the view from up here is so much superior to ground level. 

We laugh our way the track, having Samba stop every now and again for photo opportunity and to lord it over all those on the ground having to walk, like we did a day or so ago.

It is early morning and still cool and pleasant, we pass a small sort of shrine along the way, much more modern than the main temple where the sun is streaming in through the trees so pretty, and a whole wall of carved elephants known as the Elephant walk.
It was over all too soon, even though we had nearly an hour I think, Peg and I could have done it all again and still loved the ride.

While I was having the time of my life, Erle was out racing around on a big Quad Bike, wearing a good helmet and a face mask for the dust,  also enjoying himself. Not my kind of thing but he did have fun and dusty and dirty, I guess its a man thing! Surprised to see several of the women in our group did this activity too.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ta Prhom Temple Cambodia.

After our lunch we hopped on the bus to go to Ta Prhom Temple, the one many of us were waiting for. Christine went to visit her Mother in the hospital and Erle decided to laze around the hotel pool again, so I teamed up with Peg.

To get to this temple there is a pleasant jungle walk, quite shady and nice, then we turn round a corner and there it is in front of us.

This is the Temple used to film Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie a few years ago. The Jungle is encroaching fast Strangler Fig trees are sending down long fat almost leg like roots from the top and anchoring into the ground. On the way down they kind of hug the ruins on both sides and hold it all together, at this time. In time those same long roots will strangle the walls and building and crush it all I guess. 

In some places the tree canopy is almost forming a roof over the temple, makes it so much more interesting and kind of spooky.

There are interesting nooks and cranies everywhere, most filled with masses of tourists, so many it is hard to get close enough for a photograph. 

Peg and I stuck together as there were many 

fallen stones and big steps to negotiate over, neither of us wanted to hit ground. We both enjoyed our time here, but it was soon time to wander back down the jungle walk to the bus. 
thank you Frank for this photo.

Now we are off to an Orphanage which is run by a survivor of Pol Pots regime. He tells us his story how he ran away into the jungle after his parents had been killed and was lucky enough to be found by a very distant relative who recognized him  and  took him into their family. So he knows how very hard it is survive when your orphaned. When he was old enough he established this home for about 35 or so children of all ages, he is assisted by an American Lady who was just passing through as a tourist and decided to stay for a couple of months to help and is still there 4 years later.

We had all been told of this visit before we left home and asked to bring some odds and ends to help the running of the orphanage and school. We chose to take ball point pens and pencils combs and many small note pads, plus some big bottles of hair shampoo and other toiletries. It was interesting what different things people brought for the children, the pile of goodies was huge and all the children and staff were very wide eyed and happy with it all.

The children put a dance on for us, all in their school uniforms,  and one of them played some music and the rest all sang for us.
The man is an internationally known artist and has taught the children how to paint professionally with oils and water colours. Some of the paintings by the children were truely remarkable. They are for sale and many did sell to our group, it through the sale of paintings that the orphanage.
One of the older girls played a wee trick on me, I asked if there was a toilet and could she show me to it please, now I knew there was because I had seen it a standard western toilet, and she gave me a smug look and led me to the local Asian hole in the ground variety! I didn't say a word and just used it to her amazement, but heck I have travelled a lot and have had to use them many times, so her trick was wasted on me lol.
I spotted a sweet wee kitten basking in the sun.  Nice for the children to have a little pet.

While we were there, the ice cream man arrived on his bicycle, selling special home-made ice creams on sticks, all strawberry flavoured, many of us bought them for the children and then some of us bought one for ourselves,  I did, and enjoyed every lick as it was such a hot day, but I did rather hold my breathe and wait to be stricken down with food poisoning, we are all warned not to drink untreated milk while travelling  and the dire consequences. But I was lucky no ill effects at all

Back to the hotel again and some time to rest and shower. Erle and I took a short tuktuk ride to a chemist shop to buy medicine to help Erle's tummy problems. Seim Reap is quite a modern city and has many shops and masses of big hotels to cater for all the thousands of tourists who come to visit the Angkor Temples.
We all had to be in the small hall at the back of the restaurant for a wonderful cultural show an Apsara Dance performance. The costumes were very pretty and sparkly and the ladies very attractive and great dancers. Well worth watching as we sipped our cocktails. Sadly we were too far back to get good photos and too many heads in the way.
 Christine  tells  us her Mother,  Pauline has got much worse at the Cambodian Hospital and may have to be transferred to a bigger hospital in Thailand as they do not have the oxygen she requires. Poor lady we are all concerned for her.
After the show another wonderful Farewell dinner all together, the last one as we all leave tomorrow afternoon, not all homeward many are travelling on to Laos and Thailand.
But as far as I am concerned tomorrow is the big day, I can hardly wait!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

This morning we have to be up so early, well, we don't have to be, and Erle chooses to not be, most people however do get up and are ready to leave at 4.15am by bus to Angkor Wat,.
We think we are far too early as it is pitch dark, the moon is still up, as we stumble our way to the viewing spot, but when we get there it seems we are very late hundreds of others are already in all the best positions, so we kind of squeeze in on the side not the best view but we will still see most of it. So we wait. And wait.
While we wait Christine tells me she had to call for a Doctor to see her Mother Pauline during the night as her breathing became far too laboured. To get a Doctor to visit she had to pay a bond of $500 US, he came took one look at Pauline and said she must go to Hospital immediately. So before midnight they made a dash by ambulance to the Local Cambodian Hospital.  Christine had even less sleep than the rest of us and all the worry of a very ill Mother.

 We have to fend off dozens of hawkers who are also up early, I did buy some fridge magnets but lots of others were buying up big of elephant print covered troucers, but I thought just where will I wear these at home,answer came back loud and clear... nowhere
. Admittedly I am still not feeling well and not really thinking all that straight, but I wouldn't get much use from them.We still wait, slowly it gets a little lighter and we are hopeful but after all the waiting it is a very unimpressive sunrise, barely any colour just a few rays of sun hit the towers and light them up a little. The reflections look great in the moat.
We have to be satisfied with that miserable sunrise, the guide then takes us on a short tour around some of the temple it is very impressive, Those towers are actually pictured on the Cambodian flag, so well known are they.
I bought a post card showing what it can be like at sunrise on a good day! WOW! And from the best possible position

This Lion stood proudly on a rampart near the entry gate.

This temple is in best repair probably of all the temples, in some parts restoration work has been done to improve the state of  it., there are some wonderful wall carvings all very intricate, bas reliefs I think they are called. Still looking great as we are not allowed to touch them in case oil from our fingers destroy the fine lines.

 Someone took my photo  wearing my Kiwi hat, and I look very red in the face tired,  hot  and bothered and I felt it. Around my neck is the blue audio device that was used through out our tour, it has an ear piece so the tour guide can speak to us from anywhere up to 50 yards away and we can hear and follow his talks while doing our own thing to an extent. Wonderful device all tours should have one of these for everybody.
The wonderful big smiling faces carvings impress me, there are many of them they seem to be in all the Temples.

After a brief tour we are all very ready to head back to the hotel for a lovely breakfast, but before that we stop off at a local market that is on the way and we all buy a delicious cool drink.
Its lovely cool and shady at this market so we are happy to finally sit down with a drink.
My plan is to have a quick swim even though I may well be running a temperature, it will help revive me for the afternoons activities. And it did.