Thursday, January 3, 2008

Angkor Wat

Four years after my first journey to Cambodia, the illusive t-shirt has been bought. Angkor - no not the I saw Angkor Wat t-shirt but Angkor beer the national beer of Cambodia. It's been tested, it's good and we have the t-shirt.

This is my second trip to Siem Reap. It's just a brief jaunt, an interlude in the midst of our trip as we juggle arrival times into Myanmar. At Angkor Wat there are changes, long awaited restoration has begun on major portions of the structure leaving portions off limits. There are signs now that map out a logical viewing strategy with the usual arrows and signs. Somehow I'm disappointed. The mystery is disappearing with each new sign and regulation. The temple in the inner courtyard where the treacherous three story high, ancient, uneven, worn staircase - terrifying for us height challenged individuals - is now off limits. Apparently it was as dangerous as my overactive imagination had anticipated. Still, despite the changes, when I stand in the centre of Angkor Wat beside a Buddhist shrine with incense wafting around me and a man begins a chant that echoes through the ancient chamber I'm transported back in time when this place was alive with another people. People who built something fabulous not just for the Gods they worshipped but for themselves and for the people that served them. It is all rather overwhelming.

In this picture to the right a little boy is climbing an ancient relic like it was his own set of monkey bars.

Went to Tonle Sap lake. This lake is unusual in that every year during the rainy season it floods a major portion of Cambodia as the Mekong river floods into it. The villages that lie near the lake are on stilts and during the floods they resemble floating villages as the water rises right up to road level. Children, dogs and livestock all roam the roads and make it nerve wracking to negotiate the narrow dirt strip that separates one row of roughly built stilt houses from another.

Tomorrow we are heading to Myanmar - a repeat of three countries one day - news flash - we're doing it again. January 4 - Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar. I don't know what internet access will be like. I'm assuming for sure no more pictures. I may be going under for the next week but if I can I'll post to the blog. In the meantime should I have to abdicate my role as trip journalist for a week or so standby - at some point I'll be back.


p.s. I'm reading, enjoying and appreciating every one of your posts and look forward to more. My lack of response is only do to limited internet resources.


Teresa said...

It looks warmer there than on the great wall! The "monkey bar" picture didn't show up this morning, but is there tonight. Have fun in the three country race tomorrow, and update us as is possible. Well done on the t-shirt! You make us proud! I will update mom and dad on your trip. We're thinking of you! Lots of love and travel safe...

Kathy said...

After a bout of the flu and an overnight holiday trip, I've caught up with you on your voyages, P. What a trip you're taking us on! New Year's Day on the Great Wall. Happy New Year, to you, too!

Keep awing us and teaching us!