A Travellerspoint blog

Day One (continued)

Angkor Wat

sunny 91 °F

I was born and raised in the American south ("American by birth, southern by the Grace of God") but have lived in Minnesota for one incredibly cold and snowy winter - 5 months of winter at that (what I wouldn't give for those temperatures right about now!) and in China for around six years. I have lost most of my southern accent and speak pretty standard English, which is very useful to have as an English teacher living outside of the US. But I must admit - I'm a redneck.

What I mean is, I'm a redneck NOW. I have a very red neck from the powerful sun in Cambodia! Every day before going out, I slather my face, arms and legs in 30 SPF sunscreen, but yesterday I seemed to miss the back of my neck. I tried adding more today, but it's still red. I guess I'd do my brother proud right about now.

The rest of me is blissfully burn-free, so the sunscreen is working. I bought a new bottle before I came here and it must be at least half gone now. I hope I have enough to last me the next four days.

I'm going to try to add some more pictures from Angkor Wat now. Less talk, more pictures!

An orange fabric-draped figure

An orange fabric-draped figure

Figurine detail

Figurine detail

Part of the inner structure

Part of the inner structure

An indoor corner around a now empty pool

An indoor corner around a now empty pool

Wall details

Wall details

An impossibly steep staircase - they were designed this way so that you would keep your head down (it was more respectful to the gods this way) when going up to the next level

An impossibly steep staircase - they were designed this way so that you would keep your head down (it was more respectful to the gods this way) when going up to the next level

I'll be returning to this temple at a later date, so I didn't head up the stairs this time

I'll be returning to this temple at a later date, so I didn't head up the stairs this time

Wall detail

Wall detail

I was really planning to send blog updates every day but there are a couple of reasons why that hasn't worked out. First and foremost, when I've been trying to upload pictures at night, I've apparently being using the computer at the same time as everyone else in the hotel. I could get to the screen where I could choose pictures to be uploaded, but then...nothing else happened. I tried nearly every morning and night I've been here to upload pictures and finally had some luck with it this morning before breakfast. But around 9:00, it once again became impossible to upload anything. Secondly, I had no idea just how wiped out I would be each and every day when I returned to my hotel. It is HOT here, so hot that two showers a day is not unreasonable. By the time I would get to my hotel at night and take a shower, I was too tired to do much else. I usually ended up laying my still wet head on the pillow and dropping off to sleep.

For those of you who find the hot weather as hard to deal with as I do, I say "don't come to Cambodia in April." But I also say, "you must come to Cambodia!" It is one of the most interesting places I've ever had the pleasure to visit and the people here are so kind. I'll leave you until the next post. I have many more pictures for you!

Posted by feiheli 22:02 Archived in Cambodia Comments (2)

Day One

Angkor Wat, The World's Largest Religious Structure

semi-overcast 93 °F

For my first full day in Cambodia, I took it easy in the morning (finished up my latest blogs from Shanghai), then went to lunch and the largest religious building in the world - Angkor Wat. I'm pretty sure I've told people in one of my blogs that history was never my thing. I can remember many things from my World History class in 10th grade. My teacher was Mrs. Russ and she had a son when I was a freshman. She was on maternity leave the first half of the first semester, so we had a full-time sub for a while who was fresh out of college. I don't remember her name but she had blonde hair and I think a bit of trouble acting as an authority figure for people less than 10 years younger than her. Anyway, when I was a freshman, the Berlin wall came down and I can specifically remember how excited Mrs. Russ was. Excited that the Berlin Wall was down, but also excited that this was happening in her child's first year.

But ask me about my book and what I learned that year, and I'd have to give you a blank look. I've established that I like to read and learn about history now that I know I'm not going to be tested on it, but not all history. In the last 15 years, it's mostly been Chinese history, but I have read the odd novel or autobiography from Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Cambodian authors.

That's a long introduction to explain why when I had friends traveling to Cambodia in the last couple of years, I looked at them with that same blank look I still have about my 10th grade World History class- why are you going to Cambodia? What is there to do and see there? A lot, actually. I don't think anything about this ancient country was covered in that class, but I can't be sure now, can I?

On Monday the 23rd (a belated Happy Birthday goes to my dad and William Shakespeare!), I asked one of the staff from my hotel what would be a good temple to visit on my first day in Cambodia and she directed me to Angkor Wat. It was a great choice for a day when I'd only visit one temple since it's so huge, but I wasn't as prepared for the heat as I'd thought. I may be allergic to sun, I don't know, but I've discovered in the last couple of years that when I get too hot (and very dehydrated), I suffer the rest of the night from pretty debilitating migraines. Traveling through China, you never know how good and clean the toilet facilities will be, so my strategy has always been to drink as little as possible. But that makes things worse, so I resolved that for this trip I would drink as much as humanly possible (also no problem since my guide book says "Angkor is blessed with some of the finest public toilets in Asia"). I've actually found that even though I've drunk enough for a camel (at least 2 liters the morning of Day 2), I haven't really needed to use the bathroom. Turns out all that water just kind of disappears somewhere in my body, but it sure makes me feel better. Live and learn, right?

Well, on Day 1, even though I drank about four bottles of water (2 small and 2 about the size of a Sprite bottle), it wasn't enough. It's good that I had even that. I only brought the two small bottles from the hotel and my tuk tuk driver supplied the two larger (and colder) ones. The walk from the road to the center of Angkor Wat is on a long, unshaded walkway over the moat. Getting to the center of the temple wasn't so bad, but knowing I had to turn around and get back to my driver was something else. Even standing in a shaded hallway before I turned around, I started to shiver a little bit knowing that I had to go down that same, unshaded walkway to get out of there. Not a nice shiver of anticipation, but an uncontrollable shiver of "can I make it back out alive without help?" Well, I did so that's the good news. But I learned some about that experience and have applied it to my second day of temple-hopping. (I took two 1.5L bottles of cold water and carried them around with me. My bag was heavy at the beginning of the day and my right shoulder is a bit sore today, but I don't regret for one moment taking that much water. I polished off one bottle halfway through the morning and had no trouble finding a local woman who was happy to take the empty bottle from me.)

Anyway, I think you're probably tired of my rambling and would like to see some of the pictures I took instead. Like I have in previous blogs, I want to apologize that my pictures aren't as fantastic as I'd like them to be. To be honest, I think my skills are improving, but the finished product is still a long way off from professional. Having given my standard disclaimer, I guess I'll let you see some of the wonders of Cambodia now

My room at the Frangipani Villa II Hotel in Siem Reap.  I stayed at a Frangipani Hotel in Vietnam and thought it had the most beautiful surroundings of any hotel I'd ever stayed in, so I decided to stay in one in Cambodia as well

My room at the Frangipani Villa II Hotel in Siem Reap. I stayed at a Frangipani Hotel in Vietnam and thought it had the most beautiful surroundings of any hotel I'd ever stayed in, so I decided to stay in one in Cambodia as well

The view from my bedroom window.  It's not the most attractive site, I admit, but it's still kind of artistically interesting - I like all the different colors and patterns and materials

The view from my bedroom window. It's not the most attractive site, I admit, but it's still kind of artistically interesting - I like all the different colors and patterns and materials

Riding in Saren's tuk tuk on the way to Angkor Wat.  He was at the front of the hotel when I needed a ride and he's kindly agreed to be my driver for the rest of my time in Cambodia - I really like the arrangement.  It's much nicer than trying to flag down a ride from place to place while traveling

Riding in Saren's tuk tuk on the way to Angkor Wat. He was at the front of the hotel when I needed a ride and he's kindly agreed to be my driver for the rest of my time in Cambodia - I really like the arrangement. It's much nicer than trying to flag down a ride from place to place while traveling

A not uncommon sight on the side of the road in the heat of the day - tying up a hammock in the shade and resting

A not uncommon sight on the side of the road in the heat of the day - tying up a hammock in the shade and resting

Angkor Wat from the entrance road

Angkor Wat from the entrance road

The inner and outer structures of Angkor Wat

The inner and outer structures of Angkor Wat

Most of the statues were damaged - I personally hate snakes but can still admire the craftsmanship of this sculpture

Most of the statues were damaged - I personally hate snakes but can still admire the craftsmanship of this sculpture

A lion (?), a beheaded snake and the temple in the background

A lion (?), a beheaded snake and the temple in the background

Some of the Apsaras (celestial dancers) at the entrance to the outer structure

Some of the Apsaras (celestial dancers) at the entrance to the outer structure

I like how the doorway is damaged but in-focus and the person walking through is partially blurred in motion

I like how the doorway is damaged but in-focus and the person walking through is partially blurred in motion

Interior details

Interior details

Do you think the statue needs shade inside with an umbrella over his head?  I'm sure it's there for a reason, but I don't know what it is yet

Do you think the statue needs shade inside with an umbrella over his head? I'm sure it's there for a reason, but I don't know what it is yet

A local kid that I saw begging from other tourists but she never approached me

A local kid that I saw begging from other tourists but she never approached me

Monks

Monks

Detail work on the columns

Detail work on the columns

I have more pictures to show you from the first day (and the second), but it's been slow uploading them. Rather than wait hours (days, weeks?) to finish adding them here, I'll take a break for now and try again later tonight. There's plenty more coming from Cambodia, rest assured.

Posted by feiheli 21:22 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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