Cambodia




From the Blog...

Gaining Perspective
Siem Reap

PacRim Potpourri

Miscellaneous thoughts and lists.

Break

Cambodia started out as the conclusion to the winter break begun in Vietnam. Everyone had the opportunity to do their own thing in Cambodia during the break; and everyone was on their own in getting to Siem Reap and crossing the border into Cambodia. The past few months Prof. Benard and Lisa L. had been training us for this moment: getting a Visa and entering a country on our own. This was the test, and it seemed everyone aced it, because all 28 people (and then some) showed up happy and excited to our scheduled rendezvous at Home Sweet Home Guesthouse in Siem Reap on January 5th! While some students spent the majority of their break in Vietnam, others traveled around Cambodia. Jane & Todd spent a few nights in the capital city Phnom Penh after exploring Vietnam, while Anna & Nat got a preview of Angkor Wat and other historical temples with their parents, and Katerina met up with Stephanie, Allison, and Kaitlyn for some R&R on the beach in Sihanoukville before meeting up with the group in Siem Reap. Everyone was excited to see each other after the time apart from their PacRim family, as well as excited to see a few new faces. Joining us in Siem Reap were our new professor Dr. Krishnamurthy from Mysore, India, a Pacrim alumnus, Sue Giovanini, and several families and friends who slowly and reluctantly said their goodbyes and trickled back to the states (or elsewhere around the world) over the next few days.

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)

Academics

Art 323 -- Angkor Wat & Vijayanagara: A Comparison

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.

                

Course Text:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/974986381X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_dp

Professor Profile:

Dr. Krishnamurthy is a retired archaeologist from Mysore, Karnataka, India. Formerly a professor of archaeology, he seemed to enjoy teaching the UPS Pacrimmers. Like the students, this was his first trip to Angkor Wat, so he also enjoyed taking pictures of the monuments as much as anyone else. A very open and friendly person, he enjoyed interacting with the Pacrim students and sharing Indian culture and architecture with them. After returning to India, he invited students over for an evening of tea to meet his family and see his home, unfortunately his only daughter is now living in Illinois with her husband working as an engineer.

Angkor

Click HERE for an interactive 3D map of the Angkor temple complex

Temples the group visited:


                

                

                

                    

Group Poll: Favorite Angkor Monuments
  1. Bayon
  2. Ta Prohm
  3. Angkor Wat
  4. Preah Khan
Links:

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
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat
Read Maruice Glaize's 1944 Guide Online: http://www.theangkorguide.com/
General info: http://www.angkorwhat.net/

Ramayana shadow puppets

Video coming soon...
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

Around Siem Reap

Siem reap is a typical touristy town, with many restaurants and stores targeted at Westerners. The town is small, and the only place for all the tourists from around the world to stay when visiting Angkor Wat. At Home Sweet Home and around town students made friends with local Cambodians of all ages, as well as visitors from Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. While our time in Siem Reap was only ten days, it seems everyone must have had enough relaxation over the break to go full speed ahead here, because they did anything and everything - visiting the temples for sunrise, getting massages, a peaceful walk along the beautiful river, trying out new restaurants on pub street, shopping at the Night Market, and even some community service, all on top of daily lecture, temple-visiting, writing papers and doing homework! The guys also went on another one of their "mandates" which comprised of some simple restaurant hopping this time around.

Our Hotel (yellow star & arrow):

Home Sweet Home Guesthouse

Restaurants/Coffee Houses/etc (red stars):
  1. Two Dragons Guesthouse (next door)
  2. Hawaii Pizza House
  3. little stand serving breakfast across the street
  4. Apsara Burger & New Apsara Market
  5. Chiang Mai Thai Food
  6. East India Curry
  7. Butterflies Garden Restaurant
  8. Common Grounds
  9. Angkor What? Bar
  10. Viva! Mexican Restaurant
  11. Blue Pumpkin
  12. Dead Fish Tower
Markets (green star):
  1. Central Market
  2. Old Market
  3. Noon Night Market
  4. Night Market & Movie Mall
Philanthropy:

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:
Anna
Safa
Allison
Nat
Lisa L.
and others...

Other opportunities & how you can help in the area:
http://www.yellowpages-cambodia.com/community/aid-organizations-local/?area=Siem+Reap
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