Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On holidays part two - Cambodia

The real reason we went to Cambodia was - quite obviously - Angkor Wat. The whole complex consists of countless temples. Beautiful. But there I observed the same mechanism I noticed when I was in Petra in Jordan. Namely - sensory overload. First temple you see is awesome, second great, third is nice, fourth is OK, fifth is also OK, and then by sixth you start asking where's the beer? So I guess this is why the program is designed to rush the visitors through the most monumental of them. And I can't get rid of the feeling there are somewhere nearby hidden in the jungle some gems I am missing... With less tourists and more of Indiana Jones experience. Do not get me wrong - this is amazing place. Just too much in too short time.

What I found striking was the emptiness of the halls and chambers and courts and alcoves and rooms and... everything. So what you get today is just a pile of stones. Beautifully designed with awesome carvings and all, but empty inside. And the contrast between the richness of all those reliefs with the empty halls makes you wonder how much stuff must have been stolen from here and how rich this place must've been at its prime...

Personally I find the Ta Prohm temple the most amazing. I imagine it must've been amazing to see something like this while struggling to walk through the jungle. Again - a real Indiana Jones moment. Unfortunately whole Angkor Wat complex is a very important source of revenue for Cambodians so the whole thing is prepared to accommodate old German ladies with walking sticks (if you catch my drift ;-). So no - no creeping through the jungle with machete in one hand and rifle (the tigers!) in the other... The place feels ancient. I know Petra was a good millennium older, but Ta Prohm felt like it was being consumed by jungle...

Of course you can not have Angkor Wat experience without the famed sunrise. It was really social event. We were one of the first to arrive on the scene and then the crowd slowly grew to around four - five hundred strong. Lots of Chinese, Japanese, French, Germans, Dutch, Polish, Americans, Russians and only one Kenyan ;-)

I put more pictures here

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