Monday, April 17, 2006

facts and fallacies about angkor wat

1) Angkor Wat is just one temple of MANY. Many many many. Angkor (means 'city') was actually a huge city with over 1 million people living there. There's something like 280 temples and the royal city and oh so much more.

2) You know when you think of Angkor Wat and it's all about hacking thru the jungle and finding this immense lonely place of romantic solitude and it's just you and the ancient ruins and the trees and the monks and you can be all Indiana Jones and shit? Try it tihis way instead: It's you and the ttrees and the ruins and ONE MILLION FRIGGING KOREANS ALL GETTING IN YOUR GODDAMN WAY AND CRAWLING ALL OVER THE TEMPLES RUINING EVERY SHOT YOU TRY TO GET. Angkor is the new Disneyland of ancient sites. ANd we hit it directly on the Cambodian new Year celebration and so the Cambodians ALL go out there to celebrate and have it was crowded beyond belief. Trafffic jams, masses of people everywhere, mayhem and madness. We did have a few magical moments of solitude and wonder (mostly when the tour groups were having their lunches at the hottest time fo the day, so we traded sweat for peace), but 85% off the time we were just trying to get around the damn crowds.

3) If you've ever traveled in a country where people follow you around trying to sell you stuff...Cambodia is the absolute worst for people hollering, following and bargaining with you even if you don't want the stuff. I know how rock stars feel now.
"Lady! Lady! Cold water! You want travel guide! Travel guide only 7 dollar! Ok Ok for you 5! Postcard postcard 10 postcard one dollar! Buy ladyyy! Buy! OK, you remember me, you buy from me when you leave!I come find you when you leaave."
They start it from the second the car parks (sometimes before, as they are at the windows) until you get into the temple. Non stop and they come running from hundreds of feet away. This was made more intense by the fact that Rich is very tall and noticeable and I am quite white and I guess I look like a shopper.... Luckily the sellers are not allowed in most temples, but they swarm you when you come inn and out. And the ones selling postcards are almost always little kids. And no one knows what no means.
We bought what we could, to help out as they are so desperately poor, but seriously, how many really badly done sets of postcards can you buy? Everything cost one dollar, leading to Angkor being called "The Dollar Store" by many who visit. There was also a temple where they did allow the kids in to sell, and our tour guide called it the Dollar Temple. Very hard to look at temples when kids hang on your knees and pull at you trying to sell you things, so I am glad that they are not allowed in to most of the sites now. I am not saying the kids weren't for the most part cute and charming and friendly, but we were there to see the sites and it is hard to see things when you are afraid of stepping on a child......

All that aside, it was phenomenal. The ruins are immense and majestic and everything you would think they would be. The ruins just blow your mind that they were built 1000 years ago (roughly the same time as Westminster abbey and places off that ilk)
It was hot. Once I saw a monkey, which I did actually get pictures of so hooray for me!

It was a whirlwind trip, that is for sure. Left Bangkok at 7 am (up at 4) arrived Siem Reap at 8 on Saturay. At a temple by 10:30, toured most of the day. Collapsed. Up at 5 am Sunday (Easter)for the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Toured until 1pm,, back for nap and lunch then back out from 3 to 7pm. Up early Monday, toured from 8 to 1 then rested packed and back to Bangkok by 8pm. Whew.

Now it's Tuesday and Rich is waiting impatieently to see some stuff here in Bangkok so I gotta get showering. I promise I will post myriad pictures when I get back to Oslo...Thursday morning early early.

Oh and Karla May...the jelly fish sting was not that bad, really. Kind of wierd, but not bad. Luckily mine was very minor. Gone by the next morning. Considering what you have done in your life, you'd be fine. Oh, and i have EATEN an eel, so no worrries there, either.

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