Group poll: How did you enter the country?
*interested in doing any of these things? check out the new Lonely Planet for the Mekong Delta region
By plane: 48%
(flew into either Phnom Penh International Airport or Siem Reap International Airport)
By boat: 43%
(took a small tour boat trip from Chau Doc, Vietnam to the border station, and then on into Cambodia)
By bus: 9%
(took a bus from either Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam or Chau Doc, Vietnam on the border to Phnom Penh, and then possibly onto Siem Reap)
The course description on cascade.ups.edu says:
"This course compares the Cambodian great temple complex of Angkor Wat with the Indian Vijayanagara (the City of Victory) complex. The Angkor Wat sites are replete with temples and other monuments from ninth to thirteenth centuries and the Vijayanagara sites are from fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. This course is based on site-specific observation and inquiry accompanied by readings and lectures."
The classes in Siem Reap were only half of this comparative course, the rest of the material was saved for India. Our teacher was originally supposed to be the infamous Dr. Nagaraja Rao, but as he had fallen ill recently, he sent his good friend and colleague Dr. Krishnamurthy as his replacement. While it was Dr. Krishnamurthy's first visit to Angkor Wat, he was still quite familiar with the top and had clearly spent a great deal of his life studying the ancient structures. The course was a great introduction to the early history and culture of Cambodia and India. By looking at the architecture, style of art, and arrangement, students gained insight into daily life and religious traditions of these societies as reflected in the monuments and their remains. Daily lectures given on the upper patio and rooftop of Home Sweet Home guesthouse complemented and clarified the assigned articles for reading and on-site visits. In addition, Professor Benard arranged for a traditional Khmer puppet show viewing of the ancient Hindu epic of the Ramayana, a story commonly portrayed on the walls of the Angkorian temples. Despite the hot and desert-like weather, students were eager to visit a new temple each day, making sure not to leave their notebooks, cameras, hats, or bottles of water behind. Every temple was a unique educational playground, and sometimes there was even a short nature hike or a fun boat ride to reach the temple.
HERE for an interactive 3D map of the Angkor temple complex
Temples the group visited:
Group Poll: Favorite Angkor Monuments
UNESCO World Heritage: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/668 and http://www.world-heritage-tour.org/asia/southeast-asia/khmer-empire/cambodia/angkor/map.html
Read Maruice Glaize's 1944 Guide Online: http://www.theangkorguide.com/
General info: http://www.angkorwhat.net/
The Ramayana is an ancient sacred Hindu epic brought to Cambodia from India. Its stories are portrayed in many carvings on the monuments at Angkor. For students to better familiarize themselves with the story, they watched a shadow puppet show retelling it. While it was spoken in Khmer, a brief synopsis of the story can be found in English here:
http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/extra/bl-ramayana-summary.htm OR http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana
Home Sweet Home Guesthouse
Restaurants/Coffee Houses/etc (red stars):
Cambodia has a had a rough history, which has left them struggling to recover. However they are recovering, and these efforts are reflected in a variety of ways in Siem Reap today. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities and good causes to donate to. In addition, there are non-profit cinemas, restaurants, and shops which also go to educating the tourists and helping those in need. Many of the students chose to take part in these valuable opportunities during their short stay in Siem Reap.
Places students visited:
Handicap International - http://en.handicapinternational.be/Cambodia_a551.html
Angkor Hospital for Children (blue star - 1) http://angkorhospital.org/default.php
Butterfly Gardens Restaurant (red star - 7) http://www.butterfliesofangkor.com
Common Grounds Cafe (red star - 8)
Movie Mall (green star - 4)
List of students who donated blood:
Other opportunities & how you can help in the area: