Cultural overdose at Angkor Wat
Trip Start Jan 09, 2006
26Trip End Aug 20, 2006
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We chose to buy a 3 day pass for the temples as we figured one day was not enough given that the site is huge, covering dozens of square kilometres and comprises numerous different temples and places of interest. After some lively negotiations with our tuk tuk drivers for daily rates around the temples, we set off and we were not disappointed! The scale and level of intricacy of these temples (many of which are well over a thousand years old) was breath-taking. Neither desciptions, nor photographs can really do them justice, but I'll have a quick try anyway. The best of the temples were Ta Prohm, the jungle temple used in films like Tomb Raider, which has been partially reclaimed by the vegetation that surrounds it where many of the walls and arches are now entwined with trees and vines, Banteai Srei consisting of incredibly detailed carvings in red/pink sandstone surrounded by a moat, Bayon, a huge complex comprising of three tiers covered with bas-relief scultures and the enormous Buddha faces carved onto the towers and of course Ankgor Wat, the jewel of the whole area combining both intricacy and huge scale, covering over 4 miles and rising to over 60 metres in height.
That these temples were built using relatively primitive tools and of course enormous amounts of man power is awe-inspiring
The only downside of these temples was the amount of package tours going on, but a well scheduled route could avoid most of the swarms of Yanks, Chinese and Koreans wearing matching shirts and hats and blocking all the paths. Some of the street vendors were obviously aware of our commercial potential as well and the affluence of many of the visitors meant that us backpackers on a more restricted budget had far less lee-way for haggling. The fact that many of the sellers of drinks and trinkets were children was hard work, yet entertaining, as they flitted from smiles, jokes, insults and guilt trips in order to try and secure their sales. Their best lines (delivered from cute 6/7 year olds in almost prefect english) were; "If you don't buy I'll cry", "If you run away you're a lady-boy" and my favourite was to Ally who when offered a tshirt said he already had one, "Yes but your tshirt smells, Stinky, no boom boom for you, this t-shirt make you handsome"
While we all thoroughly enjoyed our time at the temples, three days of solid culture mixed with late night champions league games due to the seven hour time difference meant that by the end of it we were very glad of a day to relax. We found a nice swimming pool with bar attached in the middle of nowhere where chilling out came very easily to us, then horrednously early the next day set off for another bone crunching experience on Cambodia's "roads" before crossing the border back into Thailand. By the third time in Bangkok i was pretty well informed on where to eat drink and stay while getting the best for your money so while i wasn't too enamoured with a few days there, i was able to make the most of it adn had a far better time than expected. After waving goodbye to the guys I'd been travelling with for the past few weeks I soon met up with some other i had met earlier on my travels and also got to catch up with the brummies i had met in Chiang Mai and Lao for a late and eventful night before jetting off to Singapore.