|Our first view of the temple of Angkor Wat (bigger view).|
A 27-second clip of our tuk-tuk ride from the hotel to
Really, it wasn’t hair-raising at all.
After breakfast, we piled into tuk-tuks, two Walkers per vehicle, for a short trip through the city to Angkor Wat. My journal entry is relatively short, and not extremely informative: «Let’s face it, Angkor Wat is magnificent and humbling. It’s an active temple, and people are asked to dress modestly: they request that you show neither shoulders nor knees. No short-shorts, no tank tops. Mark wore the top half of his hiking pants, but mine seemed to me to show too much knee, for all that the two [ pants ] are pretty much of the same design. I wore both halves of mine, and I was pretty hot. The sun is murderous, the humidity likewise, and it has never been pleasant here by day.» So let’s go to the pictures.
Whereas vehicular traffic continues through Angkor Thom, which is just a city, our tuk-tuk and all other vehicles stopped outside Angkor Wat, and let us walk through the gate building and into the temple’s grounds. From there we got better and better views, through the trees, of the main temple building, as you see in the photo at the top of this page.
As we approached, we could see, as in the photo to the right, just how big the place was. The two photos in the second row show the view once we got beyond the trees. The left picture there shows, in the close-up that you get by passing your mouse over the thumbnail, the people who have climbed the wooden stairway to the top level to see the sights there. I don’t think we climbed up that high.
Our whole group, except for Leah and Albert, who had an early plane.|
From the left: me, Lyn, Barbara, Audra, Terry, John, Steve, Gwen, Alan,
Shari, Jack, Judy, Tom, Carol, Mark, and Julie. ( Larger version. )
In the picture at the upper left corner of the block to the left, you see Gwen and a flight of stairs; although we did not walk up this particular flight, we did need to go up a stairway to get to the galleries where I took the other pictures. And almost all of the ancient stairways were protected, just as this one was, by a wooden stair-structure.
And then we went in, and walked past a profusion of bas reliefs showing every imaginable kind of scene, though it seemed to me that as at Angkor Thom, there was a great number of depictions of battle. A repeating theme seemed to be of someone, I think it was often the king, doing something martial, while standing with one foot in a howdah on the back of an elephant, the other foot behind, directly on the elephant’s back.
The lighting was sometimes favorable to photography, being rather glancing on the subject, but most often not at all favorable, so flat that there was little contrast. You will get much better views in commercial representations of these glories, I am sure. But there were places where people had clearly touched the reliefs, transferring to them over the years enough finger-oil that the details became more highly visible.
The two lowest images to the left are the last ones I took in the “picture galleries”, so to speak. The upper one, most unusually, shows the notable on his horse rather than on his elephant. The lower shows the man of power with his bow, riding elephantback as usual, but what are those funny things the men below are carrying? Are they barbed pikes, or are they vegetable fronds of some kind?
From the galleries we went outside for a bit, allowing the pictures you see to the left. We evidently got down to ground level here, as shown in the lower-left picture and the two in the top row. I’m not sure now why I took several pictures of those spindled windows, whether it was curiosity about the techniques for turning them, or whether it was my interest in the ladies with the extravagant coiffures (closeups of the ladies between the windows, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Then evidently we went up again, because the middle picture of the bottom row was taken later, looking out a window of that kind, towards the Library. And the last picture in the block is another one taking advantage of the interesting lighting, even though there’s no art there.
The pictures above represent the end of our visit to Angkor Wat. My last pictures show a time-stamp of about 10:30, and the day was already getting plenty hotter. We took tuk-tuks back to the hotel, and from there we went for lunch. Let me allow my journal to pick up the story: «We bussed to a hospitality school, the École d’Hôtellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule.The young folks serving us were only a few weeks in on a ten-month course, and though there were a few errors made, the service was generally fine, and the food was very very good, both Cambodian and European in inspiration.»
|The team of young hoteliers from the hospitality school. (Bigger image.)|
After lunch there was an event that I skipped. My journal explains: «In coming to the bottom of one staircase in Angkor, I turned an ankle pretty badly. I’ve been favoring it ever since, and turned down the post-luncheon walk through the local market as a result. Mark went, but still didn’t find the inexpensive Buddha that he’s been looking for for his coworker Joe.
«Now we sit [ my journal continues ] in the lobby of the Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa, waiting for our transportation to the airport. Our return itinerary is: here in Siem Reap to Bangkok this evening, then stay overnight in Bangkok, get a fairly early-morning flight to Seoul, transfer to our long flight to Los Angeles, which involves gaining a day by passing the International Date Line, and then transfer again to our United flight to MSP. I guess we get in at about midnight Thursday.
«We’ll see how it works.»
It did work, but you’ll have to read about that on the next page. All that remains here is two pictures from our trip into Bangkok. The first shows Mark in the little air-terminal restaurant in Siem Reap, probably taking a picture of his meal, while the second shows the amazingly long and lonely walk underground from the Bangkok air terminal to our very elegant hotel.