I begin my day with the amazing breakfast, with one of the best-est fresh Pineapples I have ever had in million years. The buffet spread is pure joy and I can spend the whole day just eating, but I have to go.
Out on the road, I negotiate with a tuk-tuk driver, and quite expertly so. I fix him for less than half the price I paid the day before! I am getting better at this stuff very quickly. Part of the reason I could fix it at a measly price ($8 U.S.) was that the temples I plan to go are located very near to each other, as I covered the far flung ones the day before. Remember my strategy? (Also read: Siem Reap – The Smiling God)
For today, the top on my list is, drum rolls please… Angkor Wat. (FYI: I had three days in Siem Rea but it is quite possible to pack Angkor Wat in a day, in case you are on a very short visit.)
Surrounded by moat from all sides the huge temple makes for a perfect backdrop to witness a perfect Sunrise and Sunset. Fifty shades of purple splattered across the deep blue canvas.
It is a long walk in the hot sun, try to wear light, loose cotton clothes and pair it with shades and with footwear that are easy on your feet.
With cool coconut in my one hand and my mobile camera in the other, I walk in the temple grounds. A man chases me down in the hall, trying to sell me something. Oh, it’s the popular book on Ancient Angkor by Claude Jacques, gotta buy it! It baffles me how the locals are able to sell such perfectly minted new copy of the book at fraction of the price.
I feel as if I am home when I see the exquisite bas reliefs depicting the scenes from Mahabharata. Bhishma lying on the bed of arrows is still as vivid as the scene from the 90s TV show. Even the Gods have to walk on slippery slope to uphold the righteousness. Or maybe it was Bhishma who was the righteous one who dropped his weapon for Shikhandi?
‘Truth is neither black and white, nor it is gray. Truth doesn’t come in colors.’ Said the wise man… No, I just made it up… right here.
Walk further and you will reach the central courtyard, where you can climb up and visit the main area where the religious rituals used to take place. Here the dress code is enforced rather too strict which means you need to cover your legs (women?) and your arms, it is so for obvious religious reasons.
Though Ta Prohm is much smaller in size in comparison but not so much when it comes to intrigue. Ta Prohm is every photographer’s wet dream and you’d see dozens of photographer swarming everywhere with their bundle of professional equipment. The temple is in ruins having been completely consumed by the strangler fig trees, a case of nature running wild.
I make a quick visit to one more temple before I call it a day, I guess I am too saturated with too much of temple darshan in two days. My mom on the other hand would be very happy with my new found religious bend… 🙂
I seriously need to realign myself, and what better thing to do than to explore the night scene of Siem Reap. The Siem Reap Nightlife can’t exactly be described as, wait for it … legen…dary but it isn’t lame either. For me it means, I go and grab a Mexican pizza (really, is there such a thing? Yup only in Siem Reap!) with a cold one. And let me tell you it is one of the damn fine pizza I have had in my life. I really mean when I say it, and that includes having the pizza right where it originated (Italy, and not States, if you are still wondering).
I see children dancing on the street surrounded by a bunch of passers-by; I do not know under what is going on. Any idea anyone? It was a very disturbing sight, indeed.
The night market gets another +1 from me, the crowd is surprisingly thin but the shops are in full glory. I buy couple of tee shirts (including the cheesy, ‘my country my beer‘) at a really good bargain… or at-least that’s what I think so. I grab a orange juice despite my bad throat. The juicy is so tangy and with zero additives (not even water), something you can rarely get back here in India.
I could hear the chant and the bells ring as I turn from side to side on my bed. Angkor, Angkor, the ancient city is alive again. The tourists are the bees which will take seeds of the civilization to far corners, recreating the great civilization which once Angkor was…
Free Angkor Wat book download:
The monuments of Angkor group