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Friday, January 27, 2012

Angkor wat

 written 26/1/12

   The day after the war museum we spent looking around the area, stumbling across a local indoor market that seemed like you could get lost in! It was split into sections-one minute we were walking around stalls selling silk, purses and scarves the next there were little hairdresser stalls each with one chair all clustered together (don’t know if I’d trust to have my hair cut on a market stall though), then came the food section where the smell was horrible!! There were piles of fruit and veg then next to it baskets of fish and crabs, then meat being cut up- one stall had a pig’s head on the front and we had to step in blood on the floor as we were walking through!

            That afternoon as we were eating lunch we had a guy trying to sell us a book. This happens a lot in Siem Reap- there’s the people selling books, postcards and bracelets, the older beggars who have been injured on the land mines, the orphan children and mother’s with baby’s asking you to buy them milk. The 3 later are obviously stuck n poverty and we gave a little bit too but the ones selling things though (like the book guy) are all dressed well and are clean but really don’t leave you alone. When they asked us why we wouldn’t buy from them they wouldn’t accept the answer “we don’t want what your selling” and as they target you whilst your sat in a restaurant/ street stall eating it’s hard to get them to leave you alone. This particular one came up from behind my shoulder, wearing a pollution mask, aged late teens/early 20’s. At first we were all quite polite, he was selling the book for a large amount so we said we didn’t want it, he then became very insistent and we ended up saying we’d give him 2 dollars for it so he would go away and we’d seen it in a book shop for 3. He wouldn’t accept our 2 dollars so we said “it was ok we didn’t really want the book anyway.” With that he started getting angry at us and began asking us to give him money to go away because if we didn’t want the book why were we saying we’d pay 2 dollars for it?? We stayed calm and told him we wished him well, we didn’t want to buy his book and please could he let us have our lunch alone. He got angrier and angrier eventually storming off and told mister Alex “he’d be waiting for him to give him a souvenir when we left the restaurant” he then stood staring at us across the street the whole time we were there. I know it doesn’t sound very much but it’s the first time since we’ve been away I’ve felt threatened, mister Al said he was just trying to intimidate us and to ignore him but he did intimidate me. I made us go out the back exit when we had finished because I was scared in case he was a bit of a nutter.

That evening we met up with Harry and Laura for what we had planned as a “quiet night” however we didn’t end up leaving the bar until 4:30 where I decided to lie in the grubby, dusty track of a road and look at the stars!!! Few too many cocktails for me I think!!!

            So obviously I woke the next day feeling very delicate and sorry for myself!! We’d arranged with Harry and Laura to see Angkor Wat with them the night before but as the night had progressed the meeting time had got later and later!!! We finally met them at 12 for something to eat then headed to see the temple. Last time I came to Cambodia I went in the evening and just saw the outside (because that was free!!) but this time we paid the 20 dollars to see what it was all about.
I’ve got to admit it was very impressive, it’s the largest religious structure in the world, and it’s not just the one temple there are loads of different ones all around the parameter that we could see with our 20 dollars. There’s actually so many that the recommended tour for real temple lovers is 3 full days. We were very satisfied with our 4 hours though!!! Walking through Angkor Wat mister Alex saw a monk leaning on the side of the temple on his mobile phone (not the correct behaviour for monks I’m sure!!)

After walking round Angkor Wat in the immense heat (over 30 degrees), fighting the Chinese to get a photo without one of them jumping in, being followed by a family with a little boy constantly blowing in some stupid, annoying trumpet toy and nursing our hangovers we asked our tuck tuck driver to do us a little drive-by tour of the other temples!!! We did get out and walk through a temple called Ta Prohm, which has been taken over by massive trees, their roots twining into the stones- we didn’t realise until afterwards when we asked our tuck tuck driver to take us to the temple the Lara Croft film was made that that was the one we’d just been in!

We saw some young boys when walking through Ta Prohm busking wearing hats they’d made. We watched them for a while, gave them a small note (they don’t have coins here!) and then all of a sudden they all scarpered, quick as a flash. Just as they fled a policeman arrived on his bike, the sad thing was they’d left the little basket with their money in. I wanted to pick it up for them but the policeman was watching and mister Alex said I shouldn’t. I don’t know how I feel about that, further round the temple I saw a school- the boys should have been there not busking and perhaps that’s why the policeman didn’t want them busking. All the same I hope the policeman left the basket of money for them.

This morning we went for a run, it’s a bit too dusty and dirty here really and even at 9:30 it was already too hot. But it was quite cool to see some of the streets we wouldn’t have seen otherwise even if the locals did give us a few weird looks and the children were waving!!

 I’m writing this on the bus to Phnom Penh, it takes about 6 hours and it’s quite cramped plus you’ve got to kind of crawl into the toilet so were on a restricted fluid intake for the journey!

Lots of love to everyone at home xxxxx

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