Last three days we spent in the magnificent temples of Siem Reap. On the 6th we decided to visit some of the buddhist temples in downtown Siem Reap and then go to an Apsara dance show in the evening. On that day I learnt that our hostel serves breakfast for $2.75! So we had breakfast at the hotel and then met up with Ang, our tuktuk driver. Then we first went to the Killing fields temple in downtown Siem Reap.
Killing fields temple is a commemorative temple built in Siem Reap for the victims massacred in Cambodian genocide. In the middle of the temple there was a stupa (tower) with the skulls and other types of bones of the victims. There were informational boards around the temple showing the horrors of Cambodian genocide. This was just the beginning of my learning about Cambodian genocide, I already planned to visit the Killing fields and the museums in Phnom Penh. But this temple gave me a preview on the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. After visiting the killing fields temple we went to the Wat Bo temple which is also a local temple. So there were no tourists. The architecture of the temple had a lot of influence of Thai culture. The windows are decorated with statues of buddhist Jataka stories. This temple had a majestic architecture. There were not that many locals when we visited the temple only buddhist monks were there. It looked like there was a buddhist monastery behind the temple. Also there were stupas built where dead people were buried. This seemed like a custom specific to Cambodia because in Sri Lanka buddhists usually cremate the dead bodies.
After that we went to the Angkor National Museum in downtown Siem Reap. The ticket for the museum was $12 but the museum was not worth it for that price. I read online that it is owned by a Thai organization and they tend to represent Thai versions of artwork instead of Cambodian ones, I cannot deny that. Then we went back to the hostel. Had dinner and rested for a while. I was also planning about when to leave Siem Reap and our next destination in Cambodia was Sihanoukville a beach town in south east region of Cambodia.
In the evening around 5.30 pm we planned to go to the Apsara dancing where they also had buffet style dinner. The highlight of that day was the tuktuk driver who took us to the Apsara dancing place. His tuktuk ride was one of the best ride we had. He had a laptop screen with TV on, the tuktuk was decorated with lights and beautiful garlands, there was a mirror, he gave us water bottles during the ride and most of all he was karaoking “Happy” by Pharrel during the ride! It was a jolly experience that we had. At the end of the ride he gave Ria and me his visiting card. His tuktuk is called the Rock and Roll Tuktuk.
After experiencing the rock and roll tuktuk we went inside the restaurant for the Apsara dancing. We arrived early but they assigned the seat already so we didn’t get the seats in the front but we were not all the way in the back either. We got the food there were so many variety of food but the quality of the food of subpar. While we were eating musicians started playing the music while we were eating. Then the dance started. First dance was a folk dance of Cambodia. Next one was the dance that depicting the love story between Suvannamacha and Hanuman a subplot of Ramayana. Hanuman the humble servant of Rama came across a hurdle when he tried to build the bridge between Rameshwaram and Sri Lanka, daughter of Ravana instructed sea nymphs to steal the stones in the bridge. Hanuman was furious and wanted to fight Suvannamacha, but when Hanuman saw Suvannamacha he fell in love with her. He was trying to convince her to love her back she refuses first and then fall for him. Then there was another folk dance. Next one was a dance based on a story called Manimekala. Final one was the traditional dance which is the dance performed in the royal court of Khmer empire.
All the performances were great, I really enjoyed it. The only annoying part is most of the audience stood up during the show and used their phones and even iPads to take pictures. Instead of enjoying it then and there they make the experience horrible for everyone else. It got out of control so one American couple sitting with us had to tell the guy in front of them taking pictures to sit down.
Then we came outside to get a tuktuk back to the hostel. This tuktuk was the exact opposite of rock and roll tuktuk. In this tuktuk we didn’t see an odometer, it was gone, wires hanging from the roof the tuktuk and the seats were torn. We were having a laugh about how we went from rock and roll tuktuk to this crappy tuktuk.
we didn’t do much after coming back to the hostel. I was trying to get a hostel in Sihanoukville so that we won’t repeat the same mistake. The next day we were planning to go to Lake Tonle Sap. (To be continued…)