Friday, January 4, 2013
First Day at Angkor
Well I can honestly say I was not prepared for the size, scope, magnitude, awesomeness, majesty... the adjectives could go on and on and this is writing with the hints of a migraine... I need a real cup of tea and plan on getting it as soon as it gets light. Meg booked us a room(we were suppose to be traveling with my son Pat and his friend but they didn't come) so we are here at Molly Malone's, a real Irish Pub and Guest house. I suspect the owner is Irish, came here and fell in love with maybe a young thing and the country. The couple times we have come and gone out of the pub(you have to to get out through the pub) I have seen a couple men obviously Irish by the voice and about the right age. The age when they come to Asia and find a young Khmer Wife. Now though if the man is over 50 he can't marry a Cambodian woman. Anyway we arrived here after a 7 hour bus ride. It was nice, Meg had two seats(because our traveling partners didn't come) and I had two seats so we had room to stretch :-) The bus had A/C and for the most part except for the 1/2 stretch of dirt road that juggled your brain the road was pretty good. Both Meg and I took a ton of photos once we got up here. She used my Nikon and I used my mini ipad. We are staying in the old part of Siem Reap, there are allies that wind around and some streets are closed down at night to just foot traffic... well except tell some of the Cambodian police that. They ride there motos down the allies so even though you are suppose to be able to just walk and look you find yourself being pulled by your daughter out of the way. We arrived at 2PM, the bus pulled into the terminal. Now if you judged Siem Reap by the area of town that the bus pulled into you would be wrong. It was dusty, dirty and not all that pleasant. There was a bus ahead of us then we pulled in. Little did I know that as soon as the bus pulls in they close a gate and lock right behind you. To prevent the extra moto drivers and tuk-tuk's drivers from stealing bags that are off loaded from the bus, as our tuk-tuk driver told us. He had permission since he was picking us up. I scanned the crowd of drivers who are there from guest houses and hotels. Saw one holding a sign MEJAN, Molly Malone's... That was for us. It was a young Tuk-tuk driver and when I got to the door I waved to him... big smile from him. Megan and I were giggling over the spelling. They were surprised to see her as an American because they had been talking with her on the phone and she speaks Khmer. We get that everywhere. We settled in, just long enough to get all our stuff unpacked. I rolled up enough clothes in my backpack. So take clothes out and keep just the essentials for the trip to the temple. I had all my cameras, scarf, meds, brand new first-aid kit, buggy bite balm(used at one point, something bit me and my neck was burning. Quick grab the balm..., water, OSHI Green tea. I have my EPI Pen for just incase. We are going to need a lot more water today as yesterday we got there at the temple at 3PM and stayed till 6PM. If we had waited till 4:30 we could have gotten in for free. Megan told me that in 2012 the amount of tourist to Cambodia was 3 million or so. Up by 24%. You see when you get to Angkor every body from under the sun is there. The tour guides, Cambodians speak every possible language. A lot of people from other Asian countries were there. Certain countries the people are nicer then others(from Asia) I won't say which ones or which ones are ruder... It's hard in some places to get a photo without people just walking across and ruining that "Kodak Moment". BUT I was surprised if you wanted to get a close up of like of the walls or the Apsaras you could pretty much walk up, touch(in most cases) and take to your heart content. You can also see where the walls have been touched, they are so shiny, just like metal in some cases when the light hits them. I found and Megan confirmed it(this is her 3rd trip to Angkor) that about every inch is carved with something. It's all means something, all tells a story, it's truly amazing and I will never be the same again. We made our way slow. Once I got into the main part of Angkor temple built by my first king (but not the first King of Angkor) Suryavarman II he was the younger cousin to Jayavarman VII and became King first. It's funny the modern characters in my book I had them cousins, had Heng as the younger who would be the reincarnation of Suryavarman but also when he went back in time ,Suryavarman then when I found out(I know I do some things bass ackwards) that Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII were indeed cousins and Suryavarman II was the younger well it gave me chills, it was one of those moments for sure. Well back to Angkor proper... I couldn't believe all the walls and the nooks and crannies covered with ... well everything. I would only go about a foot and be like "WOW!!!, sorry Meg, need more photos of this spot." So it took us a while. She was fine as this is her third trip. But like she said she had been there two times already and she sees new things. We finally found our way to the Bakan. Now if you read my book you will know this place is very important. It's a the most Holy of places at Angkor. I completely forgot in my haste to get to Angkor Wat, the dress code and had shorts on which would have been fine BUT forgot a shirt with even cap sleeves so we got into line. A certain bunch of ladies from a certain Asian country pushed to the front and in front of us. I made the (I thought Khmer sound for WTH!) BUT it must be a universal sound or Asian sound) Sounds kinda like MU-WHAP!!! Well there heads whipped around and they stopped and then they said "Oh there is a line??" One of their friends got up though... They went to the back of the line. Meg and I got to the base of the stairs and the guard said I couldn't go up due to the lack of sleeves... no problem, we are going to go back today in the afternoon. There were other people who were turned away ahead of us too for having children under 12. For safety sake. Meg said last time she was here a couple left their kids at the bottom and they went up... This couple with their little blondies didn't. Believe me there is more then enough places to see without even going up to the Bakan, BUT going up there will be quite the spiritual journey and also to see if I can find "my Apsara" and see if she truly is the portal or wormhole... so if you don't hear from me tomorrow, well... So Meg and I wandered and sometimes I would see something and go off by myself. I usually told Meg. BUT then I would be like 'Where is she?' She would see me looking around and smile. You see on the wall that depicts the scenes from the Sea of Churning Milk, http://www.veloasia.com/library/buckley/churning_milk.html the bas-reliefs ,the age old story of good and evil. Stories are told throughout Angkor. Angkor Wat was dedicated as a Hindu Temple but with each King it might change from Buddhist or Hindu depending on their leanings. Jayavarman VII was Buddhist where as his younger cousin was Hindu and followed certain Hindu teachings. Both like all The Kings of Angkor were God Kings. All Kings in Cambodia have the term Preah in their name, which is a term for god. Once we started our walk back we found our selves in this spot that really stunk... the ceilings are vaulted, arched, free standing. It's amazing they still stand. We are standing there and Megan said something about it stinks... I didn't hear the whole thing. We are looking around and then look up and you then hear the sound of Bats... they were flying around way up and I took a photo and Meg said "Hope they don't poop on you while you are taking a photo." They didn't and we left the area. As we came back out to the main entrance after some more side trips to more Apsaras since the sun was going down, some of the official residents came out. No, not just bats live at Angkor Wat, yes there are monks who live at Angkor also... there is a working wat there on the grounds. The resident that greets you as you leave the main building is... monkeys... They are like grey squirrels in a park. All of a sudden the walls come alive with them. Yes ,they are tame or at least they are very used to you and for the most part won't jump on you BUT don't approach them, they bite... One stupid frenchman,(I know he was french... he spoke) put his hat over one... the monkey was all teeth and I am like "you stupid jerk..." under my breath. I was just sitting on the stones in front of the monkey when he pulled that. Then it was when I realized the monkey had lost a finger recently and it's didn't look pretty. BUT it didn't seem to be bothering him. BUT people were allowing their kids(more Frenchmen) to get right up to the monkey. The poor creature didn't seem to mind BUT Megan and I were saying "they will bit..." fell on deaf ears... There was a woman when we got down on the causeway that was being followed by a monkey. Maybe she fed then stopped cause all the monkeys I caw didn't do that. the monkey was following her and screeching!! Meg saw monks sitting by one of the small pools and took some shots. Across the causeway was where I got the shot of the towers in the reflective pool. More monkeys there too, some babies. Also a horse was drinking from there. Meg and I found our tuk-tuk, Meg had called him. It's funny cause everyone was leaving at the same time BUT it wasn't a problem. Also I noticed that the temple proper cleared out earlier so about only half the tourist were there by the time we left. They had gone to the spot to capture the sunset... Fine by me, more room to move. So we rode back, the breeze was glorious! As we rode, some tourist rode on the side of the road with bikes. It was pretty cool cause we all flowed together. You see I am going to have to come back... it's just too much to see or experience in one visit. To see everything, to visit every temple you need much more time. So now I know, now I can plan accordingly. We got back to "Molly's" and showered. Never did a shower feel so good, then off to find a place to eat. We went through the the allies and found a Khmer BBQ with upstairs seating. It was airconditioned ! We ordered some mango shakes and waited. Another couple came and sat over a bit on the couch. Behind us was a large Chinese party of young tourist. They were drinking and would get more obnoxious as the night wore on... The dinner was great, I got a good helping of different Khmer dishes. For all the food we bought at a nice place, we only spent a little over $12 each. We could have eaten cheaper but the A/C felt nice. tTe poor waitress were nervous, maybe new but the Chinese group were not helping... All we heard was "Waiter come here..." Over and over and finally after we asked for our bill and were waiting, one of the Chinese girls says as the waitress is clearing our place and you could tell the poor thing was trying to ignore and do her job with us BUT her and this other girl had been running straight to get this and that for those jerks...Well finally the girl is yelling "waiter, come here, waiter come here... WAITER come here NOW!!" Well I had about enough and Meg, the other couple and I had been exchanging glances. I jump up and said really loud "She is busy, leave her alone..." I sit down and think 'did I just say that?' Yup, I did. The waitress said in Khmer "It's ok." Then in broken English. I said "No it's not." I told her she had done a good job. So Meg and I wandered some more looking in the shops. I got some funky cool (as in temp.) pants with elephants. When we got back Meg was out like a light as soon as soon as she hit the pillow. Me about thirty mins. I uploaded the one photo. So now my migraine is gone, I'm hyper because of the med and it's 3:40AM... I need some more sleep... Also being where we are, it seems the town doesn't sleep, music is playing from somewhere but it's ok it adds to all the atmosphere. Hope you enjoyed our first day at Angkor.