Temples, Temples, Temples.....Time Out!
Everybody knows that the very good reason that most people come to Siem Reap is to see that famed of all temples Angkor Wat. Who the hell knew there were so many other temples spread far and wide throughout the area? So much so that the options for a pass to see the temples includes a three day pass and a weekly pass. God knows what sort of temple-phile could be induced to spend a week exploring these magnificent structures. Two days of 8 hours plus duration each was more than enough for me.
Well the heat has been a real killer. It was around the 42 degree mark on both days that I headed out with my Tuk Tuk driver Mr Rattana. He of the tuk tuk with the vivid lime green seat covering which made him very easy to find amongst the hordes waiting for all the other barang at all the temples. He was a nice enough guy but nothing special!
The first day we left about 9am and made our way to various points of interest. I am not going to say much about the temples themselves. If youre interested, go have a read about them....Some amazing stuff. Ta Prohm of course famed for the part it played in Tomb Raider with AJ touching some flower on a tree whose gigantic prehistoric looking roots have become one with the temple (apparently before she fell into a trap or some such....) And loads of other good s***, I was seriously impressed b y it all.
Not so much by the steep and narrow steps necesarry to manouevre to make ur way to the top of so many of the temples. Still have some serious muscle pain! And couldnt help but think - the first couple that I climbed - about the potential for a fall and its ramifications! Got over that reasonably quickly as I gained the fortitude and courage to ascend and descend with veritable verve and vigor!! It was always nice though to find yourself behind a geriatric Korean tour group and therefore have an excuse to take it nice and slowly!
At the top of one of the temples (the steepest, cant recall the name right now) I escaped into the soothing darkness and cool of the inner sanctum to experience my first encounter with the knowledge of the local children about all things Australian. This has since happened so many times that it is now beyond tedious. But when this kid asked where I came from and proceeded to tell me: "Population 22 million, Capital - Canberra, Capital of Victoria - Melbourne, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister before Kevin Rudd - John Howard...." I was actually quite charmed. And he didnt really push his goods on me like others who have done so since who have said: Ïf I can tell u...(insert any old Australian fact)...then will you buy from me?" Well, um, NO! Other variations on this have included the kid who was able to tell me every PM backwards to Gough Whitlam and who when starting with Kevin, said "Kevin 07". This guy was also the first kid to tell me that the population was 22 million, minus one (because I was in Siem Reap, of course....) Have heard that a few times since. Another girl, upon finding my to be unimpressed with her Australian knowledge, played the Burkino Faso card, lobbing the ball firmly in my court: If you dont know the capital of Burkino Faso, then you have to buy from me. Heh heh, good one, but still aint gonna happen. Not even MAYBE!
After a day of some amazing sights, had a bite to eat and went straight to bed as I was being picked up by Mr Rattana at 5 am so as I could see Angkor Wat at Sunrise. This was certainly the thing to do. And the place was not overrun with too many people being so quiet at this time of year. I was able to get some lovely shots without too many barang iniltrating the piccies. It was a sublime number of moments as the sun rose, creating a beautiful multi colored sky - and all with the splendor of Angkor Wat as the backdrop. Pretty close to having a tear in the eye as I found it so moving and peaceful and awe-inspiring, to imagine another time when these temples and the surrounding area existed among 1.5 million people (apparently at the time, London had about 50,000). And the mind exploding concept of these people building these giant monuments to the God/s and the Kings. After the natural entertainment that was sunrise, i had a spot of brekky in the shadows of Angkor and then headed off into the inner to explore, finding rarely more than a handful of people. Ran into some novice monks from Battambang who - here we go again - wanted to have a picture taken with me. Gladly obliged and this time requested one in return.
Spent the rest of the day scooting about the countryside - had about two more temples to see this day when I said to Mr Rattana: Enough! Take me back to SR! When we got back I told him that I would not be requiring his services the following day as I was templed out. Well steep stairs, heat etc., it all takes its toll! So yesterday I did a spot of retail therapy. I know, weird....Bit over buying touristy t shirts so found a place called the Boom Boom Room which sells pretty funky tshirts for six bucks (along with ipod accessories etc.,), browsed the market for some small gifts, perused the local book store (pretty damned good selection) as well as picking up a book from a victim of the landmines. It is this book, called "First they killed my father"which I then spent the rest of the day reading whilst supping on beers at various establishments. Fascinating read about the time during Pol Pot as told by a woman who was five when it all began in 1975. By the time I arrived back at my guest house at 23 30 I was unsurprisingly quite inebriated. But the time out was what I needed.
Now am trying to decide how many more days to stay here. Siem Reap is a very easy town to hang in. Good food, cheap beverages, lots of choice. Am thinking I might go and donate blood at the Kids Hospital, have heard about peeps doing that. The main dude from the Kids is also a bit of a Bach and cello afficianado and bit of a cult celebrity and has a free concert on Saturday nights (also writes his own music for the cello), which could be a bit of a laugh (!?) Maybe a happy smoke before will make it a bit of an inner giggle anyway...
Then the plan is to head towards Kampong Cham and hopefully stay at Ra Na Homestay which I have read heaps about and sounds great. Will have to see if we can make that happen. But for now, more time out in this ridiculous heat.
Lunch and a beer anyone?