Sunday, November 24, 2013

Angkor Wat

I flew from Kuala Lumpur on a Malaysia Air flight to Siem Reap.  It was a lovely flight of an hour, maybe two, with more beautiful Asian flight attendants, dressed in national garb, serving  a delicious white table cloth meal.
At the airport I didn't have a visa but I could buy one for $20 American.  Without a photo, I paid another $1.  Then I was through customs and at the money changer.  It's 25 cents for 1000 riels.  I found out later that american money is accepted as well and actually can be got through an ATM
There was a taxi desk at the airport. That's how I got my driver for the 2 days I'm here.  $50 a day. I have no idea whether that's a good rate or not.
Vindy is very helpful and found me this really fine hotel, Prumbayon Hotel at $60 a night.  The rates on the internet for accommodation go from $50 to $350 and I'm sure there's advantages to paying more. I'm also sure that there are a lot less expensive accommodation. I asked Vendy for free wifi and safety. I got a pool. The room is lovely too not that I'll be here much.  There's tv, air conditioning, balcony overlooking the pool, refrigerator, coffee and they have room service. This is about the same as a Hilton but with more mahogany and character.  Not that I don't like Hilton.
And I got to Angkor Wat.  Vindy, born nearby, speaks English well, and was waiting for me when I went to the lobby at the agreed time after I'd checked in had a shower, and changed clothes, an hour later.  He drove me to the temple complex at Angkor Wat.
The temple complex is massive.  There's a moat all the way around. The entrance passes elephants and the multi headed fan like a cobra or peacock.  Everywhere there was engraving on the walls. I loved the nymph like devadas everywhere.  The stone for the walls  came from 50 km away. The whole complex is supposed to represent Mount Meru which is the Hindu equivalent of Mount Olympus, home of the gods. The Angkorian period spans from AD 802 to 1432.  It is the epicentre of Khyber civilization .  Lonely Planet, Cambodia, says that Suryavarman II reconstructed the city after the Chams of Vietnam sacked the city in 1177.  6000 elephants were used in its construction.  With the death of Jayavarman VII in 1219 the Khyber empire began a decline.  Thais sacked Angkor in 1351 and 1431.  The glorious Siamese capital of Ayuthay which enjoyed a golden age from 14th to 18th century was inspired by Angkor.  Angkor was rediscovered by the French in the 1860's.  Tomorrow I'm going to see the nearby Tomb Raider temple named after Indianna Jones.  At times walking about I felt the otherworldliness of the place.  I even found myself thinking sci fi. It's that out there.
I just loved the trekking about. The walking distance is like that of the Maya temples of Mexico City   There were a lot of people but it didn't seem crowded because its so big.   In the one area it was crowded because there were performers and we climbed this steep set of stairs to the uppermost temple.  I loved looking out on the jungle about.  I'm not surprised Jackie Kennedy came here. It's that sort of place one wants to visit.
Now I'm back at my room thinking of having a nap before going for dinner in about an hour.  One could make a day of it.  I spent 2 to 3 hours walking about.  I don't think I saw it all.  There's just too much to see.  The little engravings and writing in the wall are very special.
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