Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Holiday in Cambodia: Siem Reap

Our second Cambodian destination was the popular tourist town of Siem Reap. After another long bus ride (albeit in a well-appointed coach), we were piled into tuk-tuks supplied by our hosts and whisked away to our luxurious accommodation at FCC Angkor. What a beautiful place!
The gig that night was outdoors, up on a stage, playing to FCC's usual Saturday night revellers. The number of patrons dwindled as the night went on, but we still gave it the old mach schau, despite knowing we had to get up at 4.00am for a very special morning. Most of us were in bed by midnight.
I have had a passionate, if sometimes wavering, philosophical and academic interest in Buddhism for 30+ years. Initially stimulated by the beat poets, my thirst for knowledge and my desire to practise has continued to grow. So, the prospect of a visit to Angkor Wat was something I was a little excited about. Even the grim reality of sleep deprivation couldn't dampen my ardour.
We made our way out on a convoy of tuk-tuks. In the darkness, I could see an increasing number of headlights as we closed in on Angkor Wat. All roads lead to Rome and all that.

We made our way in, past what seemed like hundreds of hawkers, and stood quietly gazing at the temple as night turned to day. It was overcast so there was no sunrise to speak of, but it was still a magical experience.
The place is a cash bonanza for Cambodia. Millions of people must visit every year, with each foreigner stumping up USD$37 for the privilege. Locals get in for free.
I was happy to pay. Sure, it was hard to ignore the immodestly dressed, the smokers and the shouty-types, but I tried to drink in the splendour of the place and think about what it must have been like when it was a going concern. Breathtaking.

We also visited the 216 faces of the Bayon Temple, and finshed off our morning at Ta Prohm; both locations were equally magnificent.

In the afternoon we had a heart-warming visit to the 'Music for Everyone' school, a place where local kids can learn to sing and play. It runs on fumes, and would be a worthy cause to support. We also went out to 60 Road Studios, which looks a very impressive music-creation space.
Our second, and final, Cambodian show was at Triangle Restaurant Lounge Bar. We were once again made to feel very special, with food and drink being laid on for all. It was another good performance; PlanB has hit its straps, of that you can be sure.
I'm glad we played Siem Reap; the shows were great and we were treated very well.
I'm even more glad that I got to Angkor Wat.

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