I’m inclined to take the risk of being totally boring now and tell a little story about our brief visits to the Angkor Temples and Palaces. I’m sure that everyone has seen a doco or read a book about these amazing places, but until I got there, I didn’t really understand the scope and scale of them. They are quite impressive.
As we are ahead of schedule and coping well with all the variations in alterations that we are encountering, we take ‘off’ another morning and hire a tuk tuk to take us to the temples that are just half an hour away. These are some of the most famous temples in the world. I’m told that Angkor Wat is the largest in the world? It is one of the most important world heritage sites.We set off early, as we want to be home before the afternoon heat sets in.
There has recently been a steep increase in the cost of the temple visitors passes. It costs us about $170 for the two passes. Our driver knows what most people want to see and the best way to approach it and in which order. He’s used to it. We trust him. There are a lot of temples around Siem Reap, not just the famous ones like Angkor Wat. Over the three trips that we make, we venture to the West, North and East from Siem Reap.
Of course we go to Angkor Wat first, everybody does, and I must say that it is a very impressive place. Actually, it’s a Palace and not a temple. It’s huge! The experience was a bit spoilt though by people like me being there. I’m spoiling it for others too. There are just too many people to be able to see things without being nudged or shoved. It proves quite hard to get a photo of some of the carvings that are situated in passageways. I’m a pain in the arse to someone else who is trying to do the same thing. Luckily as we arrived early. We beat the rush, but it soon starts to fill up.
In the busiest areas, they have laid down timber walk ways and wooden stairs to protect the ancient stone from being worn away by people like me! I rather like the polished wooden boards. As the morning wears on, more and more people arrive, It’s so crowded, there is an hour wait to go to the upper temple. Instead, we decide to leave. This proves to be a very good decision. As the other temples are not so crowded and busy. We will return on another day.
Even though there are a lot of people here, patience is rewarded. But there is always one person who unexpectedly steps into the frame!
The next temple that we visit is Angkor Thom.. There are a lot fewer people even though it is a lot later in the day. I think that I like this temple a lot more. I’m quite taken with all the buddhas faces.
We move on to other temples near by. In places the tress have taken root. There was once a building under this tree. It’s now inside it. These trees are well rooted and it’s not just the trees!
In the early morning there are fewer people around, so some of the local inhabitants make use of the privacy, but there is always some paparazzi around.
Visiting a buddhist temple can lead one to some deep introspection. Like “Does my arse look big in this temple” while ascending the stairway to heaven.
There is quite a lot of reconstruction and repair work being done on parts of all the temples. Some more substantial, well-financed and better executed than others!
All the walls are covered in carvings. There are a loads of them on all the temples. Far too many to take in, in three 5 hour visits.
I’m here contemplating buddhist teachings and right there in front of me is the salient reminder that no matter how hard we strive, we are still shackled by our desires! This important message from the deity does not escape my attention.
Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way? Maybe I should be approaching Nirvana on one leg?
The sculptures show us how. Now, if Janine and I just practice in our spare time. Maybe…?
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