Angkor Wat, Artisans d’Angkor, and Banteay Srei What an amazing morning we experienced! Our day began very early, with a departure from the hotel of 5:15am. Our goal: To arrive to the iconic Angkor Wat before sunrise. We drove to the famous temple whose name means “City Temple,” arriving to the moat and causeway in the dark. After navigating the old stonework bridge and steps of the walls and gates, we settled onto the inside walls of the outer structure. It was full dark, but the sky slowly began to lighten as dawn approached. Eventually, light pinks and oranges filled the void behind the great Wat and the sun came over the trees a bit before 7:00am. It was beautiful to watch the great monument to the Khmer empire become more and more visible in the growing light. We walked around the inner walls of the Angkor complex, making our way to the eastern side for morning sun. Along the way, rhesus macaques stole our attention (and attempted to steal our morning snacks!) with their comical mannerisms. Once we entered Angkor Wat itself, we explored the many long corridors, with walls completely covered in carvings depicting stories of Hindu theology. Many of us climbed all the way to the top section of the Wat, which overlooked the whole of the great structure. We returned to the hotel for a break, enjoying time to relax or shop in the Old Market near the hotel. We resumed our explorations in the early afternoon, beginning in town at the Artisans d’Angkor. Employing local people, some of whom suffer from disabilities, the workshops here produce many of the traditional handicrafts of Cambodia, such as woodcarvings, stone carvings, silver work, and lacquer painting. More than a few of our party also visited the gallery attached, adding to the collections of wonderful treasure acquired here. On our journey to our afternoon temple visit, which was farther afield, we drove through the rural landscape and many small villages. This intimate glimpse into the lives of many of the people in this country was wonderful. We saw a great deal of traditional architecture, rice paddies, the production of palm sugar, and many Cambodian people enjoying a peaceful afternoon. Our last stop of the day, and our last stop in the Angkor complex was the beautiful temple, Banteay Srei. Known for its pink sandstone and intricate carvings, this is one of the most unusual temples in the area. Its beauty is renowned and many visitors count it as their favorite Angkor locale. We wandered through in the late afternoon light, enjoying the pinks and light oranges of the stone. After returning once again to the hotel to freshen up, we made our way to AHA Restaurant, in downtown Siem Reap. We enjoyed a lovely, contemporary meal, served with beautiful preparation and a great deal of care. Tomorrow, we conclude our adventure in Siem Reap, and begin our travels down the Mekong River.