Angkor Wat and Thom

For readers of yesterday’s blog, it will probably not surprise anyone that we moved hotels first thing in the morning. The building work that began at 6am was the final straw for Lorna.

Our lack of preparation for this trip meant that we then made a Rookie mistake. Some of us did not dress appropriately to visit the now Buddhist temples at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. See table below for details:

Name Julian Lorna Tilly Nancy
Top Yes No No Yes
Bottom Yes Yes No Yes
Age Yes Yes Yes No

As you can see only one of us was able to enter the uppermost temples of the 12th century Angkor capitals. The picture below will show the solution I came up with to enable Lorna to climb the steep, narrow steps of the temples. As an aside, Lorna was very concerned that I would break her top. The bad news for her diet is that it was actually rather airy (if not ridiculous).

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Of course, these temples are magnificent. Rediscovered only in 1953, they have been rescued from the jungle and, in many cases, reassembled. The great Khmer people were building magnificent structures from 9th Century, vastly ahead of Europeans at that time. Indeed, Angkor Thom was the largest city in the world in the pre-industrialised world, both in terms of people (1 million) and size (about 10 times bigger than the next biggest city at the time Tikal, Guatemala).

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The most striking initial feature of Angkor Wat is the moat that surrounds it: 1.5km by 1.3 km by 190 metres. Angkor Thom, the capital of the Khmer Kingdom in the late 12th Century and a combination of multiple temples, is more magnificent in many ways.

It is just coming into the rainy season in this part of the world (it rains every late afternoon) and we all got soaked at our last – and most magnificent – temple (Bayon).

Siem Reap (“Thailand defeated”) has for many years been the poorest region of Cambodia, but the tourist industry is gradually dragging its residents out of poverty. It is, of course, still poor though. Young children selling postcards or trinkets, or merely begging, are everywhere. Tilly had brought lots of sweets and snacks to hand out while Nancy’s arm is weighed down by an impossible number of bracelets. The Khmer people are gentle so it’s not the swarming experience you get elsewhere in the world.

Westerners are everywhere. Not only visitors like us, but also residents who, Exotic Marigold Hotel like, are choosing to spend their retirement in a relatively cheap part of the world where the food is good. We all enjoyed travelling around in Tuk Tuks.

We finished the day by watching Lara Croft – Tomb Raider, set partly in Cambodia. The IMDB score of 5.5/10 in our view overplayed its charms. None of us watched the whole film; even Nancy, who has never seen a bad film, gave up 30 minutes from the end.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sarah on July 2, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I’m loving your frilly blue top look

    Reply

  2. Posted by Melville on July 2, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Now I know what to buy you for Christmas.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Aly on July 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Cross-dressing in Cambodia – sounds like a good novel title! But love the blog; so envious, as this region is high on my wishlist.

    Reply

  4. […] Angkor Wat and Thom (julianxbishop.wordpress.com) […]

    Reply

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