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December 25, 2003

Temple Summary

Finally, I am posting about Angkor Wat.

I've been sans connection or will to get to a computer for a while. After a few days at the temples of Angkor Wat, I needed some time to relax. It was a hectic few days.

Each day we would use a different form of transportation. The first day was on bicycle. I didn't mind the length of the trip (30k) and could have done more, but it was the gravel parts. I don't like feeling like I'm going to slide out everytime a bus or truck flies by. As Ant mentioned, we saw the temples of Bayon and Ta Phrom, which were top notch. Big creepy/serene heads and temples covered in massive trees. It amazes me how the trees would almost intentionally pick the tops of the temples to grow on. It was if they were determined to reclaim the land.

The second day was by moto-cart, which is basically a tuk-tuk/rickshaw. It's a motorbike attached to a wooden cart for passengers. Our driver Chet was kick ass. We visited more incredible temples and also went to the actualy Angkor Wat temple, with the five tall pyramid-like structures. After all the huge heads and trees on temples, I felt like Angkor Wat itself was not that impressive because it wasn't as eerie. It also might have been that as I climbed up the super steep steps, I looked down and got so dizzy from vertigo that I wobbled and almost fell off. That did put a damper on the place for me. I was hoping to not break my back by falling 25-30 feet while in Cambodia. I just should have not looked down.

After that traumatic experience, we hired motorbike drivers the next day. We each had a bike, but also a driver because tourists are not allowed to drive in Cambodia. My driver was a total chatterbox. Ant and I wanted to revisit some of the temples we had been to before because the light was soooo much better on the third day and I wanted to reshoot some stuff. Basically, this meant hitting each temple at a specific time during the day, when the light was best. This amused our drivers because we would wind up backtracking and going in circles. Our final stop was back to the main Angkor Wat temple. We had read in our guidebook that there was a bas-relief of heaven and hell that we missed on our previous visit the day before.

Heaven, as most heavens do, looked pretty sedate and serene. The people were all sitting in line, looking vaguely bored but not unhappy. Hell on the other hand was bumpin. Unfortunate souls were being eaten by monsters, sawed in half, or the finale, my favorite, nailed to the wall by many many stakes, Frankenstein-style.

As a a great ending to the temple extravaganza, we came back to the guesthouse for a short performance by the kids from a local orphanage. The kids were like little Gap/Benetton models they were so good looking.

As we left Cambodia, Ant and I were disappointed we only had 5-6 days to spend there and couldn't explore more. I was interested in seeing seedy Phnom Pehn and also other things like Pol Pot's hideous Killing Fields. Our journey back to Thailand was completely uneventful. The drive from Siem Reap to the border took less than 3 hours and we were back in Bangkok by 5:30pm. I'm really glad we went.

Posted by Claudia on December 25, 2003 12:50 AM
Category: Cambodia

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