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A bucket list trip to angkor wat

By on July 23, 2018 in Travel with 0 Comments

The Tree Temple, or Ta Prohm, of the 12th century at Angkor Wat, gained prominence after it was featured in the movie and game of The Tomb Raider.

By Barbara Tremblay

When you have a son who is addicted to travel and lives mostly out of the United States, one gets to travel the easy way.

He helps book all the flights, and tells me what visas and the like I need. He books the hotels when we travel and does the haggling with all vendors and taxis.

I have visited and stayed with him and his family three times now. The first travel was to China, where he met and married his wife. Next year to Thailand, to visit him again and this last time in March to visit the family in Vietnam, where he and his family have moved.

I told him he should start a travel agency, he does such a good job picking places to see and getting reservations. I just follow behind him and see the world open up to my eyes.

His wife, Cheng Shi, takes all the lovely pictures, then sends them to me so I don’t even need to worry about pictures.

Mike, my son, laughed and said her pictures make it look even better than the actual place. Some of the pictures are lovely, but I have wonderful memories in my brain for sure.

Hoi An, a beautifully preserved Unesco city in Vietnam, was a port city of the 12th through the 15th century.

First stop in Vietnam was Ho Chi Minh, or old Saigon. We, of course, went to the shops to buy goodies to take home, and then looked at the War Museum. Pretty gruesome but interesting and the Art Museum was in a lovely old building I thought was as good as the pictures in it.

The post office building looked awesome also — you can tell the French were there by the architecture for sure. Never mind the wonderful coffee and pastries.

The only bad thing I would say was the hot humid heat. We had to make sure to drink lots of water.

Mike decided we should go see Hoi An, a picturesque UNESCO city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town.

There again the French has some influence but the buildings are definitely Vietnamese. The colors were bright, yet fading and peeling with age, and reminded me of a day old party that went too long.

It was the end of Tet season, which is when the beautiful candles are lighted and floated on the river at night. It came alive with lighted paper lanterns strung in all the trees and buildings.

Of course one must go to the market. It is good my son has a wife that loves to shop as much as I. Jade and jewelry are relatively cheaper there. Also I came home with some carved buffalo horn and wooden carvings.

A day at the beach — the hotel provided bikes to ride  — was another great day, along with a day visiting the coconut groves, via water taxi, and a cooking class.

Life can’t get any better? Oh yes, I can’t forget about the wonderfully relatively cheap massages.

Preah Khan of the 12th Century is where the first of the conservation work at Angkor Wat started in 1991.

Third stop and my big bucket list item got scratched off. I have always wanted to go to Angkor Wat.

We got a flight from Danang — which is a taxi ride from Hoi An — to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Once again my personal travel coordinator had all the taxis, hotel, flights, figured out and knew how to get through lines at the visa stamp area. I was fine with looking around the airport and watching people.

We spent three days at the temples, and I really didn’t realize how spread out they are or how many of them there are — 50 they say. In three days I can say I saw almost all of them.

They don’t disappoint. I even got to see the temple monkeys at the Terrace of the Elephants. I was excited, as much as my 3 1/2 -year-old grandson.

I do have to say my grandson was into the travels. No complaints at all, except he was quite put out that the tourist people/police at one temple who wouldn’t let him climb up some very steep stairs to the top to see the wonderful layout of the temple areas below. They said you have to be 12 years old.

After climbing those steps and then coming down, I decided the next time I would stay with the grandson and the others could climb to the top. It’s beautiful, but with 90 percent humidity, you best be in good shape and have lots of water with you.

At Bayon Temple with its gigantic stone heads, my grandson proudly told people they looked like Grammy. Didn’t know what to say — but did get a good laugh at me.

The history of Angkor Wat is quite mind-boggling. Buildings date from 800 to 1300 A.D. and show lots of Hindu and Buddhist influence. With the jungle around, they have been in movies, such as one with Harrison Ford.

The taxi man/guide did say that many of the statues are missing because of people stealing. A sad note.

It happened we went at a good time, the taxi man/guide said. The week before, with the Chinese New Year, the temples had a two hour wait to get in. We had no waits and at some temples we were the only ones there.

At the temple Banteay Srei, where the women deities are, an older woman blessed us on our travels and the guard had us follow him through the piles of rocks and stones to see one woman deity in great shape, where people still pray. It was one of those moments.

I still marvel thinking back at all the beautiful spots that linger in my mind.

I would do it all over again even with the heat and, yes, a little travel upset stomach, common for us foreigners.

A couple of wonderful massages and you are ready to go again.

 Barbara Tremblay retired in December after working 13 years at Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition, which has a contract through Aging and Adult Care of Central Washington. She worked with senior meals at local senior centers, hiring cooks and finding volunteers to deliver senior meals throughout Chelan and Douglas counties.

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