Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Temple Times

My apologies for the lateness of this update, I have been working busily on a little project which you will all get to see very soon.

Today was our last in Siem Reap, and we decided to save the best till last. So it was with heavy eyelids and a kick of cold air that we rose in the dark and started the march to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat. Tripping over odd stones and falling into ditches along the way, we finally made it to our seats.

Our sight upon first arriving.
I made some jokes about it looking the same as The Big Pineapple and did not garner appreciation from the immediate crowd. Apparently people who come to this particular place for this particular event are often pilgrims on their own special spiritual journey. We'll see, I guess.
I wouldn't mind a bit of enlightenment.

As the crowd grew behind us, the sky grew lighter and lighter, but there was no sign of the sun. We had been sitting for almost an hour and could see clearly around us, bet there was no sign of the sun.

After  an hour of sitting, waiting on a rock.

Now, I know what the sun looks like. It's a big orange ball of fire that casts incredible light and meaning on impressive structures at certain hours of the day. I did not see the sun at Angkor Wat this morning.

Never have I experienced such an anticlimax. To make matters less appealing (read: worse) half of the face of the beautiful temple was covered with scabs of scaffolding. Bright green mesh and steel poles erupted from the steps which pilgrims normally climb. Access points were blocked off and the effects on the crowd were immediately percievable.

Men who wear scarves and cotton shirts with sandals were wandering around aimlessly. Their sense of purpose had been lost in the unimpressive, milky light. Bus loads of Chinese tourists shuffled, bumping into one another as they fiddled with the dials on their cameras, wondering why their images looked like someone had pissed in their lens. Local hawkers urgently pressed people to buy coffee and tea, taking advantage of the modern persons inclination to rise after the sun.

We decided to get out of there, and quickly, so we got up from our seats, which were quickly filled in behind us, and moved away from the crowds and toward the temple itself. Taking the side entrance, we soon realised that the sun had nothing to do with the beauty of this space.

The temple itself is massive, and an incredible amount of intricate detail is still present to touch and admire. The halls are symetrical, the royal pools are deep and wide, and when they do steps - they do them well. Incense fills your senses as you pass through tiny door frames and out onto a king's equivalent of a back porch. This is where we decided to sit down and have our muesli bar breakfast.

 The paradigm when visiting the temples, is that the hordes come for sunrise and sunset, but it's dead in between. This could not be more true. The inside of the temple was so silent I could hear Liz crunching her food. We looked across at restoration work and pondered the mysteries of Angkor. 

Restoration workers, hard at work...
I decided that the thing that impresses me most about the community of temples, is the sheer size of them. Not necessarily the size of any one temple, but the fact that there are so many and all of them originally had intricate stone carvings on the walls and irrigation good enough to keep royal pools full. On that note, we decided to leave the namesake of the area, and visit the smaller siblings of this grand building. 

A few shenanigans on the way ensured that the day was ultimately successful. Each temple presented us with a slightly different personality as well as a different degree of restoration, or indeed separation from the forest that continueously threatens to envelop it. 

I leave Siem Reap now, with memories of both empowerment and humbling, but most of all appreciation. Appreciation that I had the honour of seeing such majesty at such a young age.
A young enough age to climb all over it.

Touching things that are 'so old that trees eat them' makes me happy.
Doing it in aviators make me even happier.
Sorry lady, that guys is NOT reading your "fortune".

Little monkeys

Not a job I envy.
Yeah, the'ye alright.


  1. Go babe, your dance moves and climbing abilities are incredible. Love the look on the guys face behing you . . . .What the!!?
    Safe travels xxx


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