Or, five days on a bus, in a Toyota Camry and aboard various tuk tuks visiting some quite big temples ...
Wow.....that was a truly amazing experience, still trying to get my head around the beauty and exquisiteness of it all. Cambodia is a mesmerising place and the feel was very different to our new home in Vietnam.
We had a most brilliant guide- Sun Same, whose knowledge and learning was akin to an Oxford Don.
The stone masonry and carvings were so perfect and intricate for the C11, that I have never witnessed any thing like that before.
Cambodia appeared poorer and seeing signs for Oxfam and Save the Children really informs me that people's hard earned cash is going to a good cause.
Seeing Children walking to school barefooted and independently. I admired the freedom of living in such a society. When we are home we rush to buy the Tomb Raider film, to see Angkor Wat. But instead we only witness the contours of Angelina's breasts and some damned awful acting!
Arriving home I am still trying to fathom the colossal architecture of it and how it aligns with cosmology. We know one day that we have to return! ... Jill wrote that bit ...
This blog entry should be read whilst listening to NRBQ and the Whole Wheat Horns Live at the Yankee Stadium. It's a belter of a record and perfect for this trip. Jill might disagree ...
We're a bit templed out actually. However, as Jill has said, Siem Reap and the Angkor temples were truly mindblowing and amongst the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. There are few adjectives, or words in general, that can describe their majesty, their size and their beauty. And I haven't got a thesaurus handy either, which doesn't help. On Christmas eve we explored the main Ankgor temple in all it's vast glory, followed by a visit to Angkor Thom, which has 216 enigmatic stone faces on 54 towers, each with a different smile. We spent Christmas morning watching the sun rise over the main Angkor temple, which was very picturesque ... and followed this with visits to Banteay Srei, which has amazing stone carvings, and Pre Rup, which is a bit like a pyramid and has fantastic views from the top. We then visited Ta Prohm, which is overun with tree roots and is very atmospheric. On the last day we visited Beng Mealea, which is still a complete ruin and is also overun with jungle vegetation but is an amazing example of how all the othet temples were before they had been conserved. The sheer scale of all the conservation work beggars belief. In the afternoon we had a bit of a change and visited Tonle Sap, which is Asia's largest freshwater lake. There's some impressive mangrove swamps, some extraordinary stilted villages, and it's like time has stood still in pre-colonial times. Our guide, the genial and very entertaining Sun Same, drove us through the beautiful Cambodian countryside, past seldom seen villages and through rice paddies. It was exceptionally tranquil and beautiful. He also had a very good grasp of Cockney rhyming slang.
Siem Reap is also a very laid back and peaceful town, as long as you avoid the unfortunately named Pub Street. Everyone rides bicycles or tuk tuks and there is a lovely air of quietness and peacefulness about the whole place.
The coach trip proved a bit challenging at 13 hours each way, with a quality bit of vomiting here and there (not from us), but, all in all it was an amazing way to spend Christmas. Oh, and last but not least, we saw our first pigs on the back of a moped which was very exciting!
Back in Vietnam we saw the new year in with 9 million other city dwellers and 6 million mopeds in the middle of town and it was very joyful. Vietnamese like a photo of themselves in front of a shop window so you're constantly dodging cameras to avoid appearing in unwanted photos. Shops of choice appear to be Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Cartier ... as a confirmed socialist they're not my first choice for photos but, rest assured, when Poundland finally targets world domination and hits Ho Chi Minh City I'll be first in the queue with my camera.
Lastly, we have welcomed our first special guest to these shores and had a lovely few days in the company of our friend Caterina and it has been a joy! All other special guests welcome ... as long as we're not shillyshallying about ourselves. Chuc mung nam moi and we'll write again soon with adventures from Laos.