Running aground, we climb out of our boat to find many excited tuk-tuk drivers vying for our business. Four follow us after we make our choice still pleading their cases. As in the rest of rural
My friend and I rent fixed gear bikes for two days to tool around the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. This is the modern term for a bicycle with only one gear I suppose, when really the bikes we rented are just plain old cruising bikes that just happened to be made long ago with only gear. We immerse ourselves in the crazy traffic where walkers, tuk-tuks (motos pulling two- wheeled carriage like structures with a roof), cars, motos, big tourist buses, industrial trucks, bicycles, and push carts all share the road ways with each person often traveling diagonally, across, against traffic, at their own pace, or simply stopping where ever they find their need.
It’s like there is an agreement that you will let someone turn in front of you and in turn, they would get out of the way quickly. It’s actually more like a big game of chicken. All the horn honking is merely to show presence, not a "get out of my way" gesture as it is here in the States. I find it amazing that no one is hurt. This insanity is laughable and tests our nerves while we avoid being killed ringing our little bells at intersections to alert those we pass.
Angkor Wat is the brainchild of King Suryavarman II who ruled 1113 – 1150 AD. He made Angkor Wat the ruling center for
The area was discovered by Europeans in the 1800s. The French explorer, Henri Mouhot wrote of it, “One of these temples – a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo- might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by
We pedal past beautiful rice fields and in tree lined narrow roads. We hike all over those ruins taking photo after photo of what now seem like the same picture. Every temple is unique in style and many of the structures of Angkor Wat were built as residences. Each king that took rein over
Rushing home our first day after visiting at least five or six temples to beat the darkness that comes so early this close to the equator, we come upon the north gate of Angkor Thom, (as I mentioned, there are many wats (temples) a part of Angkor Wat, where Angkor Wat has is it's own temple and is also the name of this temple region). The Angkor Thom gate is this amazing stone structure with a huge face carved in it. By huge, I'm talking eight feet tall or so (the face). Of course we have to stop and take a photo of it as we only have two days to cover the entire campus and will likely not pass this way again.
Three kids are playing near by and upon seeing us stop to take photos, they drop their toys (one carrying a large hatchet making me somewhat alarmed. As an aside this is how they cut grass!!!!!) and run toward us. As I was instantly alarmed, it is fortunate that they start to beg from us, "Candy?" "One dollar?" they chime. I nicknamed them the trolls of the bridge and tried to teach them a new phrase that I thought would earn them more laughs and possibly more dollars: "What's your favorite color?" I would say to them slowly. They would start to attempt to repeat for me then remember their original purpose of harassing us. “One dollar?”
The next day we spent a far amount at a temple known for its very large faces; Bayon of Angkor Thom. As you may have learned, I talk to most anyone where ever I travel; this exchange today worth sharing for its comedic value, my conversationalists unaware. There was an Australian family touring as we, parents and a son my age and I notice that the mother is heavy with a cast and make-shift sling on her arm. Her son is recommending to her that perhaps he'll go down the set of steep steps first (that will take them out of the ruin).
- (me) "To cushion your fall?!" I chide to the woman
- (son) laughing, "yeah"
- (she) "I've already broken an arm once this holiday"
- (me) "here?"
- (she) snidely as if I should know, "New Zealand" then goes on to tell me a bit more
- (son) to his mother, "are you coming?" insistently, impatiently
- (she) "yes, yes" continuing to descend the stairs tentatively
- (father/husband) rolling his eyes, saying to no one, "She had to have a running dialog; a necessity of the female condition before doing anything."