Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Another post about my trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

This following post was started yesterday while we waited for our bus to get going. Well Meg and I sit in our seats, we each have two so we have a bit more room to stretch out. It’s funny Megan had the mini van for the bus company pick us up, they said 6:30 they arrived after 7AM. We only went around the corner and picked up the bus… had we known we could have walked. So now we load others on the bus. The guy from this bus stop just questioned why I had two seats, “Because we bought two each.” If they want to pay me fine BUT I am holding onto this little corner of the world for the next 7 hours. It’s not bad, A/C and fake leather seats. This bus is a bit newer then our one on the trip up. (A little side note about the bus ride) When we arrived about two hours out of Phnom Penh at at a restaurant most everyone including Meg climbed out. I told Meg I would watch our bags till she got back then I would go out. She left and then the young helper of the bus driver comes back in and asked some of the young German girls and me if we wanted to go out. We said “No, we were fine…” Well he leaves and closes the door… A few minutes later one of the girls got up and went to the door. Tried to open and says “the door won’t open…” I am like “You can’t be serious…” I get up and go up to her and the door. I try it a few different ways then I start looking at the dash. She looks at me and says “Can you figure it out?” I am looking for a button, people are gathering around outside watching us. We can’t find the button that would open the door. So we start looking for either the driver or the young guy. I am getting ready to blow the horn, the girls are gathered around me and the driver walks up with a smile and then a smirk on his face. He motions for us to open the side window. We do and he says “the key, right there…” He points to the keys. So we hand him the keys and he opens up the bus. We then all pile out. He is going to lock the door again But I put my hand up, (Thinking there are people still in there, young guys, you aren’t locking us out and our stuff in there.) So I say to the driver after the young girl asked me if I would watch the door. I told her not to worry. So I look at the driver and say in Khmer “Don’t close and lock that door…” Well he does a double take and laughs and says “just for you I will keep the door open” (in English). I then I say in Khmer that he was very naughty. That brings more laughter out of him. When Meg got back I went walking around and found a vendor who sold roasted spiders, very, very large ones. The vendor asked me if I wanted some. Me “I don’t think so…” Meg and I collapsed yesterday after the final round of temples. While I downloaded photos she rested and catnapped. When she got up I then said “I’m just going to rest for minute.” Down at 5PM and fell fast asleep. She said she was going to show me something from facebook but saw I was out like a light. Yesterday we had decided we would start at Preah Khan. I knew the most important thing to do on my last day was find the Sister Queens and then get to the Bakan. As I said my friend Monica Hall had found an article that I have had since it came out. It was somewhere in my computer and also printed at home. I woke up to her message and saved it to my ipad mini. So when we got to Preah Khan after we initially started looking at the wall a young man named Son came up and explained a couple of things. I was thinking, he may attach himself to us BUT it turned out good, I showed him the photos in the article and he asked if we could use a guide? “ Yes… and can you get us to the sister queens.” He smiled and nodded yes. When we arrived there at Preah Khan we had about two minutes of quiet then a bus load of either Chinese or Koreans off loaded and boy were they loud, obnoxious and rude… Meg said “Run…” we moved a bit faster to get through the wall and then our guide kept us ahead of the pack which was good. When we arrived at the queen’s area the doors got lower and lower. There were women, Khmer already sitting down at the shrine burning incense sticks. Their shoes off. I took off my shoes and gave some riel for an offering and sat in wonder at Indradevi, pronounced Undra-Davie. It was dark, too dark for my ipad mini to capture BUT I think Meg was able to get a shot of her though. I then moved onto Jarajadevi, the older sister. Her little area is ready to fall down on her. I had to stoop even more to get into her little area. I was able to sit all by myself basking in her presence. The incense smoke swirling around her and I. I was very moved, almost to tears as here were the queens, the Queens who co-reined with their husband, probably the greatest of all Cambodian history, Jayavarman VII. When at a time Europe was dark, these Queens helped their husband the King to rein and rule with fairness and love for their country and people. Theirs was a time of ‘the people’ the amount of hospitals, schools, roadways, universities and libraries that were built is astounding. Preah Khan was built by Jayavarman VII for his father, to bury his ashes. But also he created a small place to honor his wives. It’s funny all you have to do is mention them, the locals know about the queens BUT the experts brushed them away for years, thinking them and labeling them as Apsaras. They were also at Banteay Kdei Temple. Now that I have been here I am going to go home and know just what kind of tour I want to give myself the next time. This trip was just an introduction, a 101 in the Royal Triad. I will have a better understanding of what to look for the next time. My writer friend Kent Davis was so right, you really don’t get research done while here. You have sensory overload. You try to take it all in while you are here. Tuck it away in your brain so when you get home and back in familiar surroundings you can then write. I have stood where my King and Queens have stood. I have looked out on scenes they saw each and every day. I have felt a peaceful presence while being in their temples. Even in the dark corridors that I explored, that smelled of bat dung I never felt fear. I would see things like Apsaras and go wandering off. An inner voice would say turn here or there. I would find Meg patiently waiting for me as I found my way back or she would follow. At Ta Prohm we really got ourselves all twisted around but it was good. We were always away from the pack. We could hear voices just on the other side of the wall but they never invaded. Only one or two others would find our little hidden courtyards. We all would look at one another like we had found a hidden garden and were happy to keep it to ourselves for the time being. Quiet and careful to not let any others know we were just on the other side of the wall. So now I am back in Phnom Penh. Tomorrow I think I will leave the same time as Meg, grab a tuk-tuk and go to the waterfront, to FCC, the Foreign Correspondence Club have tea and write as the city comes alive then go walk around.

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