Tuesday 2 December 2014

Angkor Wat The Hell?

I'll just jump straight to the point. Angkor Wat is the most impressive ruins I've ever seen. Possibly the most impressive human construction I've ever seen, even. If you don't know what it is, google it now. But don't google images it. That'll make our photos look pretty average by comparison.

Angkor turndownforWat?

We expected Barang to meet us the next morning at our hostel but instead there was a different Cambodia man yelling our names. It turned out to be Barang's brother but he had a tuk-tuk so that was good enough for us. Barang's brother, Dara, drove us to Angkor Wat and the much larger Angkor Thom complex which were incredible.


To be honest, I didn't know much about the Khmer civilisation before I came to Cambodia. In fact, I still don't know much about the Khmer civilisation but I know they built a good temple. Seriously, without doubt the most impressive buildings I've ever seen considering they were built 1000 years ago and in a climate I would describe as sauna-esque. In a country where I was literally breaking a sweat just riding around in a tuk-tuk in the cool season, an entire civilisation could be bothered to ship in building materials from miles away (on elephant back, apparently) and build stone temples. Not to mention the intricate details carved into every inch of it.


The temples have mostly held together pretty well, considering they've survived 1000 years of exposure to the elements and pretty much constant invasion and warfare.

Seriously, those are bullet holes.

Oh, and all the temples are still used as temples by local monks.

"I shall call him... Mini-monk"

About midday, when we were halfway though the much larger Angkor Thom complex, it began to rain. And rain. And rain. Fortunately, we were at the top of a ziggurat-like temple at the time so we had a good view of the rain. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of shelter from the rain. The rain took a little but of the heat out of the air but just made it even more humid.


We looked for Dara to get lunch and found him sinking beers with Barang and the German lady that Barang was supposed to be tuk-tuking around. By the time we found them, they were quite a few beers in and by the time we had lunch and moved on, they'd had quite a few more.


It was quite safe on the tuk-tuk though because, Dara made sure to mention to us many times, he was quite a good driver and it was ok to drive drunk because he'd also had a red bull to balance it out. Barang did not have a red bull.


The weather began to deteriorate again so we rushed to see Ta Prohm, which is another temple complex which is seemingly apparently only known to the locals as "Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie" since Angelina Jolie visited it to film part of Tomb Raider. Literally every single person, including the locals speaking in Khmer (Cambodian) called it "Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie".

Please explain?

Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie was a perfect testament to both mans ability to build great things and nature ability to reclaim them whenever it damn well wants!


A little old hunchback lady hiding in one of the tiny shrines at the back of the complex and spoke no English made me light a candle and gave me a good luck piece of string which was nice of her, I guess.


When we came out of Ta Prohm, Barang and Dara were back on the beers so we joined them for a while then headed back to the hostel for a swim and a shower. And don't worry mum, it was by safe. I bought Dara another red bull before he drove us home, just to make sure he was a good driver again. That said, he and Barang are both excellent drunk drivers. I couldn't navigate Cambodian traffic sober, let alone with half a brewery in my bloodstream.

How I see Barang
How Barang sees me

"Cambodian traffic: if you want to go, just go and hope for the best"

When we got home, we had to have a serious think about where to go next. We still had almost a week to kill before we had to be in Vietnam so when someone in our dorm suggested we go to the coast and check out some of the Cambodian islands, we figured why not?


Flights in Asia are cheap and the bus trip to Siahnoukville on the coast is a long and terrible one (especially for Ryan who gets travel sick) so we booked a flight to the coast for the next morning, happy to exchange the still humidity of siem reap for the cool, coastal air of Siahnoukville.



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