Angkor Wat

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So we didn't end up seeing the sunken forest, instead we went off on a little "tuk-tuk" ride up and down the side of the main river here - down to a little mountain in the center of the lake.  We stopped by a school that teaches folks how to carve wood and stone in the older traditions so they can make a living building kitchy stuff for tourists and/or tiles for the big hotels being built here.  Kind of sad but really pretty positive overall.  the poverty down south was staggering though - but still the folks seemed to soldier through it.  We had whole fried fish, some sort of licorice chicken soup and frog for lunch, it wasn't half bad actually though the frog was a little oilier than I would have enjoyed (like croc actually).

Angkor Wat
Yesterday as the Angkor complex and dear god was it amazing.  Angkor Wat (the most well known area) was interesting enough, but it was extremely cleaned out and thousands of people everywhere so not as enjoyable as I would have thought it to be - Allison and I left the guide with her dad and poked around on our own and found a little ancient gardener's shed for lack of a better term.  Out back of the main temple and sort of run down, it was really cool - workers that maintained the grounds seemed to use it still so that was kind of amusing.  After that we went off to a place (still in the angkor complex) who's name I can't remember but was featured in the Tomb Raider movie - it's the one where there's a giant tree growing down over one of the doorways, it's fairly iconic if still relatively obscure.

Tree from Tomb RaiderThat place was from another world.  Sort of went off on my own to go poking around and there was a long boring run down little hallway that turned and opened into what can really only be described as a tiny city sitting inside the ruins.  Fallen stones and moss and vines and everything it was almost too much to take in - I loved it there.  I kept exploring for about an hour and just hit saturation, I couldn't absorb any more.  That's why today I'm going to go rent a bicycle and go back to the complex while the other three take a 4 hour "extra bumpy" ride into the jungle to go see some lesser known ruins.  I may miss out but I really want to go back and take in more of this place.

city inside the cityAfter the saturation we still went to a few other places but none of it really stuck, I'll probably try and visit them again today.  Came across a little budhist shrine that was in active use and there was a group of monks casting out the evil spirits of a man who'd had a bad fortune told to him, another monk was blessing a car.  We asked the English guide what was going on and he sort of half heartedly explained it until we asked if we could partake of the ceremony.  That really brightened him up, and he talked animatedly about why the water was being thrown in this way and why four monks were required.  We bought offerings (incense, candles and cigarettes!), did the appropriate bowing and then were set down on a set of worn marble steps and had water thrown on us for a good 15 minutes.  As much as it's possible to throw water "hard" this monk did - we had to earn those blessings I guess.

blessed by monks
It was pretty interesting though, afterwards walking around all soaking wet probably about half of the folks that usually try and push cheap trinkets or t-shirts on you took on a whole new outlook - they'd laugh or smile and one old lady and I had a "conversation" wherein she pantomimed how to spread out some of my soaked possessions on a certain portion of the stone still heated by the sun to dry them more quickly.  A few others kept on like nothing had changed though - business is business.

So now I'm trying to find a post office so I can mail off the post cards I've been hauling around for two days.

Random snippit from the notes - Allison is talking to a little boy at the outside gates of Angkor Wat:
Boy: What do you do?
Al: I make coffee, I work in a cafe.
Boy: And what does he do?
Al: Uh.. he works with computers.
Boy: Oh! He very rich!
Al: No, not very rich.
.. a little later zack gets hungry for pineapple the boy is selling ..
Zack: How much for the pineapple?
Boy: *smiling like the devil* A doooollar (cleary 10 times what any sane person would pay for pineapple)
Zack: yeah, sounds fine.

No cow explosions yet.


"No, not _very_ rich"... haha.

The pics are awesome! Obviously, I need to put Angkor on my list of things to do, now that two friends have seen it in the last year and raved about it...


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