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Our day started early as we visited Holy Mountain and Wat Notor Temple. The day we visited happened to be a national holiday and the temple and the surrounding complex was filled with people offering rice and other food to the Buddhist monks. By offering food they believe that they are feeding the souls of their departed relatives which in turn provides them with good karma. In addition to the temple there are many statues of Buddha in a variety of positions including the sleeping Buddha. The complex was very near one of the 388 killing fields found in Cambodia after the end of the Pol Pot regime. A Stupa was erected there memorializing the souls of those found in that killing field.

Kampong Cham Village In the afternoon we visited a village in the province of Kampong Cham. We toured the village to get an idea of how rural Cambodians spend their daily lives and how they work together to make a living as a community. One family allowed us into their home to see how they lived. The home consisted of a living room and a smaller storage room. Traditionally the homes are built on stilts with the living quarters upstairs. The animals and kitchen are both located on the ground floor. They construct the homes this way due to the potential for flooding during the rainy season.

We visited a home where they wove silk cloth and made utensils out of bamboo. Another family made sugar from palm trees. One of the families raised pigs and almost all families owned at least one or two heads of cattle or water buffalo. The more cattle they have the more prosperous they are. Most villages do not have electricity as they simply cannot afford it. The goal is to have electricity in all homes by 2015. There was one television that was powered by a car battery which was recharged each month. Meals are cooked each day on a wood fire.

Buddah Blessing Ceremony We returned to the ship and enjoyed lunch as we sailed to Angkor Ban. The village of Angkor Ban was a short walk from the ship. Here we were treated to a Buddha blessing ceremony in the Khmer Pagoda. After taking off our shoes we entered the pagoda to watch the ceremony. It is important to remember that shoulders and knees must be covered to enter an active temple of pagoda. In the town were many boys training to become monks. Boys start training to become monks at the age of nine or ten. It is considered a rite of passage and once they achieve monkhood they are considered to be men.

Village Boat Race After the Buddha blessing we went to the river to watch a village boat race. The town was crowded with spectators lining the banks of the river to see the races. We were lucky as the boat races only happen on holidays. The boats hold about twenty people all rowing for the big win!

Angkor Wat Sunrise

The 3:45 wake-up call came early but we were ready. We boarded our bus at 4:45AM and headed out to Angkor Wat armed with flashlights and cameras. Everyone crowded around the lake eagerly anticipating the dawn of the day as the sun rose over Angkor Wat. We were not disappointed. Also, the date was September 21, 2014 which also happens to be the autumn solstice. As the sun ascended it was perfectly centered behind Angkor Wat creating a spectacular sunrise.

Angkor Wat View from the top level Following the sunrise we continued to tour the complex. Angkor Wat is the largest single religious monument in the world. Literally translated as the "Temple City", the complex was completed in the 11th century. Angkor Wat was originally a Hindu complex dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, the protector of creation. From its creation the temple has gone back and forth between the Hindus and the Buddhist control. After 1431 the complex was abandoned and the Khmer King moved the Khmer capital to Phnom Penh. Anyone visiting Angkor Wat should seriously considered doing it at sunrise as the temperatures are cooler and seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise is a once in a lifetime experience.

Siem Reap 031 The afternoon was spent relaxing at the hotel and visiting the town of Siem Reap. The hotel complex is beautiful with a refreshing swimming pool and a beautiful spa with a complete menu of relaxing massages. Late in the afternoon we jumped in a Tuk-Tuk and for $2 we rode into town. The town of Siem Reap is lively and filled with shops, bars and restaurants. There is a large market there as well selling just about everything. Bargaining is expected and some good deals can be had. That night we enjoyed dinner at the hotel restaurant and were treated to a traditional Khmer folklore show as we ended our stay in Siem Reap.

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