Monday, August 21, 2006

Angkor Wat - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Built in the early 12th century as a Hindu and later (14th to 15th century) a Buddhist temple, Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world. Angkor was abandoned in the early 15th century and lost to the Cambodian jungle until its discovery by French botanist Henri Mouhot in 1860.

When I went in November of 2004, this is what I wrote about seeing the sunset at Angkor Wat:

The last temple of the day for me was Angkor Wat itself for the sunset. I went into the temple with the sole purpose of seeing the sunset. Two problems: One, after walking up and down countless steps, my body just ached. Two, in order to get the best view, you have to climb a series of steps that are at a 70 degree angle (this is to make worshipers bow as they climb, or fall, I'm still not sure). No problem on number two? Yes, big problem, I'm not so fond of heights. After 20 minutes of getting my hackles up to do this and walking around the numerous stair cases, I made my move and climbed up as fast as I could without looking down. Got to the top and wondered what I was going to do to get down. I saw a set of stairs that had a metal railing installed and a line of about 40 people waiting once I got my photos from the top, so the choice was obvious to me. Funny thing that you wouldn't even be allowed to climb something like this in the states. I was joking with a couple other Americans that were in front of me in line about that; as well as the sphincter tightening that occurred just when you realized that you had to still get down the stairs. I made it down no worse for wear, but won't be going up that today as I explore the Angkor bas reliefs.

I really hope to get back to Angkor Wat and Cambodia in the near future and see how it has changed in two years. I'm sure that there isn't a McDonalds there right now, but it probably isn't too far off.

Like I wrote yesterday, I'm going to try and make the effort to post more often, but with smaller amounts of photos. I have a few hundred just from Cambodia, so I should have enough to get me through a few posts until I go back to Thailand in Novemeber.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chiang Mai Zoo

Here are some of the photos I took at the Chiang Mai Zoo. I'm not a huge fan of zoos and was less than excited about going. I think animals in captivity are a bit sad and would rather see them in a more natural environment. At the Chiang Mai zoo, the main attraction are the pandas. Aside from nature documentaries, I've never actually seen a wild panda. There were two in this enclosure that was temperature controlled and actually compared to the temps outside, it was real pleasant. Being that this was the main attraction, there was a separate charge to go see these animals, well in a word, sleep. I think the only thing this one panda did was wake up, stretch, relieve itself, and go right back to sleep. I was in the process of taking a photo of my girlfriend when the panda was in the process of relieving itself and decided to delete that photo.

I have a couple other photos of a few of the big cats housed at the zoo, a tiger and a leopard. Both were less than captive subjects for my camera choosing to look the other way and sleep also (how dare they). The last photo is of an animal that wasn't even a permanent resident of the zoo or at least it wasn't in an enclosure or a cage.

This lizard wasn't actually in any exhibit. I came upon it as we were walking back to the van to head out to see one of the handicraft markets outside of Chiang Mai. It is neat how it is mimicing the color of the tree and the greenish post next to the tree.

Its been a while since I've posted and I'll try to get more photos up on a more frequent basis. I've been trying to get out to the gym and run at least three times a week and when I get home, the last thing that I'm thinking about is posting photos as it honestly takes a few minutes to get the photos up on the blog and then moving them all onto one post. I just went through my photos and have a lot that I haven't posted from Cambodia so I might just put a few up every other day or as time permits.