Monday, 8 February 2010

Monday 8th February

Having got used to everywhere being empty, Chinese New Year has taken us by surprise... Most of the hotels and guest houses are fully booked. We spend the first part of the morning in admin to ensure a roof over our heads.

Hired a tuk-tuk to explore the closer temples of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm (where Lara Croft was filmed) and Angkor Wat (the famous one after which the entire complex is known). Quick historical note: Khmer kingdom 900-1300AD; each king built a palace complex, water reservoir and one or more temples (wats). This explains the multiplicity of sites, however the sheer size of the place is still astonishing, and every surface is carved with Hindu and Buddhist representations. Unfortunately every path is also full of tourists. Entropy is in control here - piles of rubble everywhere, aided by the Khmer building practices - civil engineering was not their forte. The buildings are designed to fall down! One was even built on top of a loosely contained sand pit, which was also on top of another loosely contained sand pit - three times...

Some amusing episodes include: visitors going forward to put change in a locked charity box to be swiftly sidelined by an old crone selling incense. Local children are attacking monkeys, both shrieking unintelligibly. We have hired the fastest tuk-tuk in the East and have the satisfaction of overtaking everybody else on the road. :-)

Arrive back at 6pm absolutely knackered - even Caroline admits to having seen enough ruins (Eleanor will appreciate the significance of this statement).

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