Angkor Wat Day 2
“Ahhh…I love the smell of adventure in the morning.” Harriet, First Lady of the Adventurer’s Club 1937
On day two at Angkor Wat we conquered the little circuit. Each and every site we seen that day took my breath away. I have to apologise for not taking down the names of the temples but highlights of the day include the one with hundreds of giant stone faces. The one that lay unfinished as during construction it was hit by lightning twice. Seeing this as a bad omen construction was stopped. Visitors today like to do rock balancing around the temple, for no particular reason according to our driver. I also loved the one that has been nearly destroyed by trees growing right through them. Clearly reminding us that we must beware nature. We saved the best for last however and visited Angkor Wat at the end of the day (the temple which gives the whole site its common name). We visited in the afternoon and it was very quiet. We had a lot of time to walk about and soak up the atmosphere and the history. A walk up some too steep stairs was rewarded with a bird’s eye view of Angkor Wat. Bringing home just how massive even one of the temples is. (To go the upper level of Angkor Wat legs and arms must be covered).
We were very glad to be just a two and not in a tour. We watched tour groups being whizzed through the temples at a hundred miles an hour. They would be told where to take photographs and would cue up to each take identical photos of each other in the same spot. Dan and I had the time to explore or to sit and observe for as long as we wanted. We decided our own destiny. Our driver told us that most of the tour groups were Koreans. They book their whole trip in Korea and almost none of their money winds up in Cambodia. It all stays with the Korean tour operators. Isn’t that sad? So many Cambodians are trying to make a decent living working in the tourist industry and a large proportion of the visitors are not doing their part to help. Our driver was, rightfully, very resentful of them.
We had an interaction with another couple at our first temple which was partly under construction. An Australian lady turned to me and said,
“I’m sorry but Jim and I were just having a laugh at your expense.”
“Oh right” I said, confused by her honesty. I looked over at her husband who was indeed laughing.
“Jim said look at that girl coming, a nice pretty, white girl. I bet the workers will like her”.
I looked at the construction workers and yes, some of them were looking in my direction. I felt equally horribly uncomfortable and pleased that she had said I was pretty. Especially as I was essentially wearing pyjamas.
*Awkward, polite laugh* “Oh right. OK. Great. Thanks then. Bye” *Quickly walk away*
Next time someone is having a laugh at my expense I’d prefer not to know, thank you. The next day a different Australian lady commented on how sweaty my face was. Here is a tip for travellers, if you want to leave Angkor Wat with at least a shred of dignity avoid honest, Australian ladies.