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Angkor Wat is All That

October 11, 2010

I hadn’t planned to go to Cambodia.  Then I got an email from intrepid traveler Nasreen who I’d met in Jordan saying she was also in SE Asia.  I suggested we meet up, and she suggested Angkor Wat as being a “must see”.  So, here I am in Siem Riep.     

I’d just finished reading Paul Theroux’s excellent new book from a trip he did in 2008 called Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.  There’s a chapter with an atmospheric account of his visits to Siem Riep and Angkor Wat.  Regarding the ruins: “An assertive Asiatic Gothic, lends them tremendous power – power magnified by the way they have been eaten away by time, pitted by centuries of bad weather and neglect (reminded me of Petra in that way)……Even with tourists in silly hats scampering on its steep stairways and yelling to each other from cupola to cupola, the ruins epitomize sanctity, harmony, and radiance……….the gentleness of the people made it easy to linger (in Siem Riep).” 

 
 

temple complex from “Tomb Raider”

The temple complex used in “Tomb Raider” is a maze of unrestored temples covered in moss, parts falling down, trees forming part of the structure, uneven rocks underfoot, and dark rooms with shafts of light coming through ornately carved stone openings.

We spent 3 days exploring the ruins in our chariot tuk tuk, driven by a sweet giggly young man, codename Sam.  Apparently his real name is too difficult for foreigners.  I really love the tuk tuk.   I was thinking to myself as we drove around the countryside between temple sites:  What would Ian say if I shipped a tuk tuk back to the US?  I really want one.  I’d need to buy a motor bike to hook it up to.  I wonder if he’d drive me around, so I can continue my new favorite activity, being driven around the countryside like a queen – breezy, cushy padded seat, no windows so maximum view, not too fast very comfy pace.   Sam is a great driver, wonder if Ian would feel threatened if I imported him along with the tuk tuk?

Sam and Nasreen

 

me at Bayon

On our last day in Siem Riep I returned in the late afternoon to the temple of Bayon.  Sam asked me why I wanted to go back, and was it my favorite temple.  I said yes it was my favorite.  He said it was his favorite too, because of the smiling faces which are a combination of king and god (Buddha).  He was happy that I wanted to go back because that meant I really liked it and maybe I would return to Angkor Wat somedayon another visit. 

 

  

smiling faces of Bayon

me at Bayon

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