Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Angkor Wat

Tessa and I opted for a three-day pass to the world famous Angkor Temples. Before we headed to the temples, we visited the Angkor National Museum and got some background information about the Khmer's and their various kings throughout their 600-year domination of Southeast Asia. Their best king was Jayavarman VII in the 12th century, who built many of the temples (there's dozens of them!) and also created hospitals, universities, and roads that are still the basis for modern Cambodian roads today.

At the museum, we were lucky to meet Kiel and Tammy Ongg, a really nice couple from Singapore, visiting the temples with their 10-year-old son Viv. Tessa was talking with them in Chinese and I was making shadow puppets with Viv, and they invited us to tour the temples with them the following day. Kiel had been there before and knew his way around, a big bonus for us who had no idea where to go first!

Me, Tessa, and Viv in the front gate.

The gate!

They do elephant rides here. I don't really like how they treat the elephants, but I'm sure the customers enjoy their ride. 

Inside they Bayon temple, famous for the faces

So amazing. The pictures don't do it justice.

Wall carvings everywhere. And they all have stories behind them. You can see the lighter sections have been reconstructed.

Terrace of the Elephants!

Seeing the temples with a 10-year-old boy was fun.

Amazing walkway...

This one is called Ta Prohm

They left the trees. Pretty amazing, eh?

This is a famous spot because Toumb Raider was filmed here.

Somehow Viv snuck into all of our pictures. This is Angkor Watt, the most famous temple there!

Many of the temples have these apsaras, beautiful female spirits from Hindu and Buddhist mythologies. 

This is in Angkor Wat; its a huge relief depicting King Jayavarman VII's defeat of the Thai invaders. Its so well-preserved and amazing to look at, but the pictures really don't do it justice.

You're not supposed to touch, but people do anyway, and that's what makes it shiny.

More apsaras

This is in the very center of Angkor Wat, with the whole family and Tessa! I'm taking the picture.

View from up top, where only high priests were allowed... Now anyone can go up, as long as you are covering your arms and shoulders and not wearing a mini-skirt.

These girls were about to give a performance

Love the costumes! 

So concludes our first day touring the temples... two more to go!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

With Darina

It was so nice to stay in Bangkok with Tessa's friend Darina and her family! Tessa met her at UC Berkeley. Darina is Thai but went to university in the USA, just like her 4 sisters!

Here we are with the whole family. They were so nice and took us out to eat at really yummy restaurants!

Their maid from Burma, super nice lady! She took the picture of all of us. Didn't she do a nice job?

View from the roof of her house

This is the street just outside of her house, where there is always a local market happening.

These ladies are making tasty treats out of coconut cream (left) and tiny eggs (right.) We tried some, very soft and moist texture, and the coconut ones are very sweet, like dessert!

Vegetable stand

Kebabs everywhere

Inside these banana leaves is something delicious. Maybe a jello-ey dessert, or maybe some kind of fish. 

Another view from her roof. She lives in a really interesting neighborhood.

Temples of Ayuthaya

Here are some pictures from Ayuthaya, the old capital of Thailand.

We took a boat trip around the city, which is surrounded on all sides by moats. The boat drops you off at different temples and you have 20 minutes to walk around.


A cool room in the back of one of the temples

There are Buddhist and Hindu gods at most of the temples.

Big buddha!

I think this guy worked here... 

Picture is a little blurry, but you can see the motorcyclists taking the ferry across the river. Cool eh?

Tchu descends the stairs

Lots of Buddhas everywhere.

Even a Catholic Church! 

Here's a temple from the Khmers, which is in the same style of the ones at Angkor Wat.