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Published: December 11th 2013
It was my birthday and I was planning to go somewhere really nice. Having done my research around this time of the year, the place that outshined all others was the famous temple of Angkor Wat (Siem Reap). It is a UNESCO heritage site of spectacular temples built 500-1000 years ago by the Khmer rulers and among them Angkor Wat simply stands out in 200 hectares with a giant moat filled with water (to maintain the balance of the foundation of this architectural splendour). I was awestruck by size. However, the guide was horrible and kept talking about best places to take photos instead of describing the temple, carvings and inscriptions. We went to see some other temples like Ta phom, Bayon, Banteay Srey etc. Some temple ruins were like the stone pyramid and the climbs were steep. Trees can be gentle creatures but not here. They have grown strongly over the temple blocks, eating rocks away, destroying stone carvings and forcefully submitting the temple to its own will! It was a powerful sight and reminded me of the stories of huge, human eating trees as in fairy tales. The cicadas in the forest were very loud and constantly making it
I spent the evenings trying local cuisine. Food is very cheap . Cambodia is a rice growing state and I was busy eating fried rice and drinking milk shakes (pineapple milk shake with real pineapples). The pub street is local food haven with a lot of barbeques but I did not try even one of them because it was all sorts of creatures and some I had seen only in my school laboratories. The Apsara dance at Temple balcony was very graceful. Travel is by tuk tuk which is motor cycle with a rickshaw attached to it. It will be a good idea to have them in India.
While I left the shores of this city, I saw ‘Tonle Sap’ which is a vast stretch of land filled during the wet season with the backflow of river Mekong. It is very strange geographically with patches of greenery and stretches of water.
What I love about these journeys is meeting people. I had breakfast with a German guy and had planned to go out together for Apsara dance but got late. Then I talked with a Phillipino couple who is a musician who got trained in India
(Manali). They had just returned from trip to Chennai and his wife told me that she was impressed with the huge library in Chennai. She and I were disillusioned with the idea of building monuments for war and crime. Why don’t we celebrate peace and remember good times? Philipino had an interesting theory that most monuments are built by men as they are aggressive by nature. They can be reminded of the value of peace once they see these monuments. I observed that they were the first Philippine couple who I had seen travelling. He said flights have now become cheaper and so it is easy to travel. He explained that Philippines are not literate or educated which is why they are so close minded. I realised why Bengali community has given birth to the greatest thinkers in the world because they are extremely fond of travelling. They were hardly any Indians in this leg of my journey but I definitely spotted a Bengali family in this far-fetched land J
I landed in Singapore to admire the efficiency but missed the laziness. Lying on hammock with a historical novel in my hand, munching sugar coated sweet potato fries and good company. What life!
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