Monday, December 18, 2006

Day 02 - Templeland - The better one

We did interface with God, but Angkor really had nothing to do with it.
Fleeing from the camera-bearing hordes, we headed for Angkor Wat itself. The temple is surrounded by a moat that is about 200 metres across and stands surrounded by a huge wall. Approaching it across the huge bridge is a little like approaching the Taj Mahal - the stuff of dreams. You've heard about these places for years and may know nothing about them. But you've seen the images and now, walking towards it, I could hardly believe that it was all real and we were actually there.

John (right) blends in with the monks on the way to the Wat.

Again, like the Taj, you have to enter through a relatively tiny gateway which only serves to make the view and the expanse the other side all the more impressive.

We wandered slowly up to the temple's main building with Vannak filling us in on history, measurements. Occasionally he also added interesting and essential facts such as the fact that if you went to the toilet there you had to pay but the ones outside were free.

Born just before the temple opened, she's lived here all her life.

There are two pools in front of the temple. These set the building off magnificently in reflection but were actually made, Vannak said, to ensure that the building was symmetrical and not leaning. The pools were being cleaned of their rampant water lillies by some intrepid young people one of whom was wearing, quite bizarrely, a Be the Reds t-shirt. For those who aren't amazed by this, it's the Korean national football team's t-shirt. Quite how she got it we could only guess.

The building contrasts strongly with the Taj Mahal though in its appearance. Made from volcanic stone darkened by tropical rain even the restored bits looked authentic. Funnily enough, there weren't half as many people here. We explored the central part via the steepest and most perilous staircase we'd ever seen. Vannak knew this. Which was why he said he'd see us later and spent an hour or so on his mobile below us.

Sheena in the labyrinth.

Lunch led us back outside to the aforementioned toilets (and now we understood why they were free!) and some fantastic food which Vannak recommended. Cambodian food isn't spicy at all and was really good. We had Amoke, a broth cooked in a young coconut so that the fruit and milk become part of the creamy creation. Gorgeous.

Sheena runs Amoke...

And then onto our last temple...

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