Barb and I engaged a tuk tuk to take us out to the admissions area for Angkor Wats. We then dismissed the driver and bought our tickets. Poor planning on our part. We were many miles from the actual site and were expected to bring our own driver. No worries, I looked for a single occupant and went up to inquire if we could tag along and share the cost. A woman of a certain age (us) spoke English and agreed to our proposal. What a day we had! Souviel was an interesting travel companion. She is a Norwegian from Oslo, traveling from Singapore where she was staying with her son and daughter in law. She is a former stewardess and world traveler who stated when she couldn't travel by herself she'd be done with life. What a great companion to explore the exquisite Banteay Sri. This temple is small with well preserved bas relief, lintels and doorways. I remembered it from my visit 8 years ago as being my favorite.
After exploring the temple in the blazing sun we stopped for a lunch of fish amok, green papaya salad and beer. Wonderful to share stories and get to know our new friend. Unfortunately, she left for Singapore thereafter but bequeathed her tuk tuk driver to us.
We spent the remainder of the day exploring Angkor Wat and will return tomorrow for more of the temples. I was glad to spend time in the National Museum yesterday and have the Hindu and Buddhist stories fresh in my mind. The stories are illustrated along the walls of the temples, so surprisingly fresh from 800 to 1200 ce, around the time Notre Dam was built.
I have had an amazing day at this beautiful site. Even though I had read and heard a great deal about the Angkor temple areas, it was so different to see it live. The incredibly beautiful stone work was breathtaking; often so exquisitely detailed even after so many centuries exposed to the merciless predations of the jungle and waves of looters. I of course took too many pictures, and will probably bore some of you once I am home with endless series of doorway lintels, bas reliefs and semi-naked women. Those were on the stone; all the women and men that I saw were clothed appropriately... Apparently there has been a rash of people taking their clothes off and taking inappropriate photos of themselves at this site and there were warning signs about what would happen if we partook of this behavior; instant deportation and a stiff fine. You will be happy to know that Barb and I managed to restrain ourselves and left all attire intact. However, it was so incredibly hot that I began to wonder whether they were in fact just trying to cool down...
We got back to our homestay in a state of semi-bakedness, and spent a few pleasant hours by and in the pool, which was lovely. Then we walked down to the Night Market for a bit of local shopping. I am becoming quite the bargainer, and acquired what I hope are some silk scarfs. Or maybe not.
Tomorrow we are off to another adventure in the temples!