Friday, November 21, 2008

SE Asia Day 9 (part 1) Angkor Wat

I met my driver, Chang, in the community area at the guest house.  I had a quick breakfast and we headed out.  As we rode through town, I got a much better impression of Siem Reap than I did of Phnom Penh.  There were plenty of new western hotels developments.  But, I didn’t see as much poverty as I did in the capital.  There weren't the gangs of beggars or street kids.
Here’s Chang as we drove along the road through the Angkor complex.
This is a picture of the south gate of Angkor Thom.  We passed through it to get into the Angkor Thom complex.IMG_2078  , I I have to say this was really surreal.  Even with all the groups of Japanese and Korean tourists, there were plenty of views with no people in them.  I realized fully that the Khmer people are really capable of great things:  both wonderfully great and horribly great (the killing fields).
IMG_2090 This is the best meal I think I ate the whole trip, and possibly the entire month of October.  It was chicken amok, which is a curry with coconut milk.  It was really amazing.  It was in one of the tents inside the Angkor Tom complex (#27 I think).
Below is a cool tree that has grown over the temple at Ta Phrom—one of the temples used in the filming of Tomb Raider.
And here are some Korean tourists at the same sight.  I couldn’t resist taking a picture of them.  They were literally saying “hi-ting” for the picture!  I’m not joking.  For non-Konglish speakers, “hi-ting” is a bastardization of the English word “fighting.”  It is used as a generic cheer for Koreans, usually at sporting events.  I love it!
Then, here’s me at the mother of all Wats: Angkor Wat.  I look a little scruffy because I hadn’t shaved or trimmed the beard for all of my trip.
Here’s another without the gratuitous hairy shot of me.  Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world period.  Pretty amazing.  Why was it abandoned?  Basically, Angkor was attacked attacked by the Thais.  So, they moved their capital to a lower-profile spot in Phnom Penh where the Khmer Empire faded.
The weather was hot so it was definitely nice to have a tuk-tuk to ride around in to cool off in the breeze as we rode between temples.  Unless you are going to spring to pay for a tour guide to tell you the history of each site, or do studying beforehand to know what you are seeing, the temples at Angkor are definitely seeable in a day.  It was a good day.

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