Sunday, September 11, 2011

Angkor What? Angkor Wat!

Ta Prom Temple Photo By Kathleen Broadhurst
By Kathleen

( Sorry it's been a minute, we've had technical difficulties)

 It’s not every day to get to see one of the wonders of the world, we were spun. The faces popping out of walls, the nine headed Naga snakes, the demons and gods at war. Shines and statues to the Buddha at every temple, it was a glorious jungle dream.

Together we wandered through some of the most glorious ruins on earth. Built in the 12th century when Europe was still in the mists of its middle age crisis the capital city Angkor was designed on sacred geometry, every temple is a reflection of heaven, every moat a symbolic sea.

To climb Angkor Wat, the most famous temple in Angkor, is to cross the seven seas and seven mountains and reach Mount Meru, home of the gods. There looking down over the jungle encrusted ruins it was impossible not to revel in the transitory nature of being.

Angkor Wat, though the biggest and most famous is not the only temple in Angkor, there are literally dozens and they dot the landscape like forgotten lego towers built by giant children. There’s the administrative seat of power with elephants and gods, there’s the bridge to Angkor Thom, with giant Lord of the Rings like sculptures and demons battling deities leading you deeper into Angkor’s mysteries.

There’s Ta Prom, the Temple of Bramha, where the jungle is slowly wining the battle against the stone, eating away at this ancient monastery’s sacred halls.  And then there’s the Temple of the Snake Maiden where, legend has it, the king would go every night to join in spiritual and sexual union with a snake Goddess. Given how many stairs there were to get to the top, I’m guessing the sex was really good.

The giant trees that encases the ruins are as much a part of the attraction as the moss covered stones, you can climb them or just get a group of five and see if you can circle them with your hands still touching. It would be easy to spend a week in Angkor and we only had one day. It was a temple marathon.

Thankfully, despite it being the rainy season, the day was dry and we were able to get to every major sight before the clouds rolled in, though we did miss out on Angkor’s famous sunset.

After dark, when we all had had a cool dip in the pool (an I had discovered that I missed getting sunscreen on part of my shoulder) we took to the streets of Siam Reap.  About the same size as Phnom Penh, Siam Reap is a much more affluent thanks to the hordes of tourists that descend like crazed monkeys onto the temples. There are many good restaurants to refuel at. We ended up at the Warehouse, though most of us were fairly unconcerned with food and looking forward to having a night off to hit the clubs.

Pub Street, is something of a letdown, its literally one street and there’s not much other than your typical Khmer happy pizza/ fried rice type restaurants and a few bars. On the far end on opposite sides of the street are the two big clubs. The Temple which plays the same music in a continuous loop but has air-conditioning and drinks in glasses and Angkor What? Which has a more alternative playlist and no flashing lights. We opted for Angkor What?.

With $1 shooters named things like Drunken Rabbit and Red Dragon, it wasn’t long before the crowd started bumping. Happy as clams in the heat and sweat we danced like the good little hippies we are, gaining the respect of fellow travelers and the giggles of a very tipsy Japanese girl who kept taking pictures of Fiz. By the end of the night there was no place to dance but the tables and we along with a dozen or more people dutifully climbed on top, where it must have been another 5 degrees hotter.

Finally falling out of the club, we wandered the streets looking for some fresh air. Tuk Tuk drivers came by to sell some sin. As a couple we avoid most of the sex trafficking touts but a friend got offered “ Girl, Boy, Two girls, pregnant girl?”. Mostly we just got offered an array of substances starting from the soft and getting progressively harder. It went something like this “ You want some smoke?”
 “ No.”
“ Marijuana”
“ No”
“ Cocaine”
“ No”
“ Molly”
 “No”
“ Crystal Meth”
“No!”
“ Opium”
“ No”
“ Heroin”
 “ No”, every ten feet or so, just another reminder that Cambodia is the Wild West of the East.

For those who are traveling to the area, Cambodia may see like a giant Las Vegas, but don’t be fooled, for every one of those dealers there was a cop standing at the wall and if we had decided to purchase anything you can bet we’d be paying a healthy bribe for the privilege.

Its is a well known fact that some shady dealers will actually sell you out to the cops before you even get your drugs. So if you’re going to party, party smart and don’t think just because it being offered that it’s ok to accept.

Furthermore, when it comes to chemicals, yeah, if you think they step on shit with nasty things back home, you can only imagine what they do it with here. In other words, cocaine really in Cambodia? That doesn’t even grow here. Stay safe, buy locally grown

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