So. I went to Angkor Wat, in northwest Cambodia. If you’ve been here, you know how extensive it is. If you have not been here….it’s really extensive. Not just a single temple but dozens of them, some huge, some quite small. Lots has been written about Angkor Wat (Wiki) and researched (cool 3D imaging of Angkor Wat). And other than open mouthed wonder, I don’t have much to say about this visit beyond a small sampling of the hundreds of pictures I took. Too many to upload to this blog, but here’s the link for some of them on my Google Drive (Dave’s Angkor Wat pictures).
What I will tell you is how I got there. I took a bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and then hired a tuk tuk to take me to my hotel, a very nice guesthouse run by Gary, that I found through airbnb (Golden Dynasty Guesthouse) . Ratha and Chandra, my new friends at the front desk, arranged for an English speaking guide for me, $35 for the day, plus a tuk tuk to drive us around $20. A good friend in Vietnam, Morgan, had given me a strategy: go in reverse order from what the tourists do. Skip the dawn East Gate at the Angkor Wat, which tends to draw lots of tourists, and start at Bayon then move back to Angkor Wat later in the day. I liked the sneakiness and contrariness of this plan, and suggested it to my guide, Densith. To whom had I paid a day’s wages. And he said, “Nice idea…No. We’re going to Angkor Wat first.” I’m finding, during these travels, that without a solid communication ability, it’s hard to change mindsets. And The Standard Tour For Day 1 starts at Angkor Wat. That’s just how it is. I had thought about just renting a tuk tuk and exploring on my own, but realizing how ignorant I am of the history and archeology, I decided the $35 would be well spent. And, aside from insisting that we STICK TO THE PLAN, Densith was a good guy and we got along fine. So off we rambled to Angkor Wat.
Honestly, the crowds weren’t too bad. And Densith had LOADS of statistics that he was insistent upon sharing with me. To a listener nearby, our conversation may have sounded like this:
Densith (earnestly): This wall is 356 meters long and was built in 1186, but that wall there is only 285 meters long, built by the king after that.”
Dave: How come?
Densith: How come what?
Dave: How come that wall is longer than the other one? Was the king after the first king lazy?
Densith: (pausing) No, I don’t think so.
Dave: I’ll bet he was lazy. (looking in an A.D.D. manner toward another building) Where do those stairs go to?
Densith: Um, that staircase was built in 1175, and has 99 steps, because 9 is an auspicious number. It goes to what they believed was Heaven, or the closest they could get to Heaven.
Dave: You mean that floor only about 50 feet up? Doesn’t look that close to Heaven to me.
Densith: (struggling to stay in control) Only the royal family could go up to Heaven.
Dave: Can I go up there now?
Densith: No. Those stairs are closed. Because tourists kept hurting themselves on them. But there is a special set of stairs around the corner where you can get up there. I don’t want to go with you, my knees hurt. I’ve done it too many times.
Dave: I’ll go without you then. Will you wait for me?
Densith: Ok, I’ll wait for you. Don’t take too long.
This was a fun tour.
You can see the pictures here….
Too small? PICTURES ARE ON GOOGLE PLUS HERE.
Here are some to whet your appetite… (and remember, click on them to embiggen them)
And then…..this happened.
Okay, enough whetting. Go see the pictures. PICTURES ARE ON GOOGLE PLUS HERE.