Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Temple Bear - On the Move

Hullo bears & not-a-bears! I have been having a tonne of adventures in Siem Reap but haven't been able to weasel any wifi-time out of Mama! Hmmph... the humans work on their own blog and mine has to wait and wait and wait!

Anyhow... This was our tuk-tuk driver - and we were off to Angkor Thom on this day, which is just north of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Thom is renowned for a temple called Bayon, which has 216 faces carved into it. Can you see one in the picture below?

There are 54 pillars and each has 4 faces on it...

Some of them are a bit broken...

But others are pretty good. I look pretty tiny compared to these monoliths!

There were all sorts of cool windows and doors and you could see faces through them. It looks like the face in the background is whispering something into my ear.... but it's all Cambodian to me!

You really end up feeling like someone's always watching you... Hmmm... I think there's a song that goes like that... is it Sting??

And another one!

This place also had some cool colonnades (cool as in interesting and cool is an out of the sun!).

Oh look... it's an elephant!!!! Oooohhh... those animals are massive! I clammered and yammered but we didn't get to ride any elephants here... phooie!

Then it was off to another temple called Banteay Srei which was a beary long tuk-tuk ride away. But once we got there we saw something interesting... this grass sort of looks like wheat but it's really rice! We are just getting into the tail-end of the dry season here, so the wet season will start soon - and that will mean more rie fields.

Banteay Srei is known as the Citadel of Women because the stone carvings are so detailed and intricate that only women could have carved them... or so the legend goes.

There were strange monkey/human figures here... most missing their right arms.

See the detailed carving?? Amazing!!

It was super hot here too... but so interesting that I didn't mind the heat so much.

Although... the water buffalo were hot too and waded into a pond to cool off.

And then... another little temple called Ta Som. It ended up being one of my favourites. It as small and not overrun by tourists and had some cool trees climbing over the walls.

And doors within doors within doors within doors.

See!!! Isn't that amazing??? I love those trees...

Parts of the temple are a little decrepit.

But that just means I can play at Indiana Bear!

Ta-dah... I wonder if they stashed honey in their temples like the Egyptians did???

Bye-bye temples... next stop Phnom Penh!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Indiana Bear - Temple Explorer - Part 1

Hullo bears and not-a-bears! We have had a busy few days. I am a beary hot little bear!

First - we spent a day exploring temples. And then a second day exploring temples. These are not like the temples in Bangkok though - these are more or less ruined temples. They were abandoned around the year 1400 AD and only "rediscovered" in the mid-1800s. They were all covered and eaten up by the jungle, but now most of them have been cleared and put back together again.

The first place we went was Angkor Wat. Apparently it is the largest religious site on earth and you can see it from space!

It was beary large and a long walk.
 It was built by a king who thought he was a god. It needed 300,000 people to build it! They floated the big stones down the river on rafts (when they could) or dragged them through the jungle by elephant. It took 37 years to build. And once it was done, the king only used it as a holiday place twice a year!!!

 It was beary cool with lots of nooks and crannies and beautiful carvings on the walls.

 You could almost get lost in there.. except there are too many tourists for that to happen!

Some people climbed up to the main temple. They had to be dressed correctly - no tank-tops or short-shorts - luckily I made the cut!

It was pretty cool. You'd never know it but there were hordes of tourists all around. Some of them even wanted to take pictures of me!

 Whew... so that was Angkor Wat. Then...

It was off to Ta Prohm - it is near Angkor Wat and is a temple where they have left some of the jungle trees in place. It was my favourite!
 It was much cooler because of the trees and things just looked a little more Indiana Jones-ish.

 The tree roots have done a number on the place though. They get in between the stones and then whole walls fall over.

I think this hole in the tree is a secret entrance to the temple!

See some of the carvings?? They were pretty neat. Apparently most of the temples were painted red back in the olden days using henna. You can still see a bit of the red next to me.

 There's a big old tree sitting on a wall.

Isn't this cool?? You could play hide-and-seek in here for hours and never run out of hiding spots!!

This was a super cool tree...

Whew... it was beary hot out - +36 Celsius but it felt like +47. That is almost enough to make a little bear sweat!

See!!! Super hot - I did sweat!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Wild West of Siem Reap

Er, hullo bears and not-a-bears! We are off to Siem Reap in Cambodia. I heard it was sort of a wild-west type of town so got a cowboy hat... but it doesn't fit bear well!
 Actually, it's Mama's hat... but I thought I'd borrow it for a bit!
 We flew on Cambodia Angkor Air from Bangkok to Siem Reap. At first we were going to take a train and a bus but the humans eventually decided a plane was better.

That meant there was time for some afternoon exploring! And we found some beary yummy Belgian beer... Leffe Brown - yummmm!!

 This is one of the markets where they sell all sorts of vegetables and stuff.

And there was even an Apsara dance show going on - traditional Cambodian dance.

But the highlight of the day was this... Fish Massage & Pedicure. We had seen this in Bangkok but didn't do it... but here... the humans decided to do it.

The little fishies eat the dead skin off your feet and legs - it tickles like mad at first but then gets better. (Mama does still have all her toes under all those fishies!)

 Mama dared me to get it done to... uh-huh.... really...

I don't think so!! Those little fishies would eat all the fur off my feet and legs and then I'd look like a silly bear!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Bear at Large in Bangkok

Whew... it is hot here in Bangkok!! It is 35 C but feels like 45 C. Ugh!! Good thing I have my hot-weather outfit on!
This is a typical street scene in Bangkok - it's amazing more people don't get run over! I have to be beary careful on the street because I am just a little bear and people tend to step on little things!

 There are tonnes of temples in Bangkok too - not just busy street scenes.

 They are easy to spot because they usually have orange tile roofs and ornate spires on the end of the roofs.

 We walked to the Golden Mount on our first day. I wasn't all that impressed with it at first until Mama told me this was just a tiny sand-castle replica of it!

There were big lions guarding the stairways up to the summit but I sweet-talked them and flashed my Canadian flag pin at them. Pussy cats they are!

 There were lots of bells up on the shrine - and this big thing... beary noisy! It was a religious festival (Thai New Year) so there were lots of people there celebrating. The night we arrived, I almost got soaked because that is how they celebrate by spraying water on everyone and everything as a blessing.

 We got a great view of Bangkok from the top. See the temples in the background?

And this is the top of the Golden Mount. I can hear Jerry right now... no... there is no chocolate inside there!

One day was devoted to taking a tuk-tuk to the Vietnamese Embassy to get visas. Along the way....
We stopped at a Starbucks to get some hot chocolate and free wifi. (This is my Aussie look... by the way). Anyhow - NO free wifi at Starbucks in Bangkok. Ooooh... some people get grumpy at that! And even though Mama bought 150 Baht worth ($6) - it still didn't work. Super grumpy!

We wanted same-day pickup for our Visas, so we wandered around markets and sidewalks. There was a shrine here to a Hindu god and it was beary popular. The yellow flowers are jasmine wreaths that women sell out on the sidewalk.

 Speaking of sidewalks... here's a drain cover of some sort for Beanie Mouse!! Not sure if it's right side up or not...

And then we got our visas... well, the humans got theirs. It cost 10,000 Baht for the two of them and they almost squeaked in dismay. But they did want 3 months Visas with multiple entry. So that works out to $200 each which isn't too bad. Lots of tourist travel shops will sell you a Vietnamese Visa service - 9300 Baht for ONE person... It pays to do some research ahead of time!

With it being so hot out... I convinced Mama and partner to head towards the river where it is a tad cooler.
 There are some cool boats on the river...

These are the long boats - they call Bangkok the Venice of the East. So these would be the Gondolas of the East. Alas... they also looked pretty wavy in the water so Mama said we were not setting foot in them!

 We went to a couple of temples - this one was just a little one.

 There were practically no tourists... which was nice.

 Lots of people praying inside though.

 Lots and lots and lots of golden buddhas everywhere!

 See how orange the roofs are?

 And this is me! With a golden buddha. Do you see the piece that I am pointing to?
I think those might be gems in there!! Maybe??

 We also went to Wat Pho where there is a massive reclining buddha. Way more tourists here. And we just turned our backs on another Wat near the Royal Palace because the crowds were crazy!

 But Wat Pho was nice - with lots of ornate towers.

 And pink flowers...

 And then we actually caught a boat up the river - one of the Ferry Express boats - much more stable in the water than the long boats.

 Hold onto your hats - because it goes fast!

And one last drain cover for Beanie Mouse... More adventures as we have them!