Tomb Raider Time!
Angkor Travel Blog› entry 66 of 89 › view all entries
As a continuation of my trek through Hollywood filming sites, I was very excited to check out the temples of Angkor where part of Tomb Raider was filmed (the temple Ta Prohm to be exact). I don't know what it is about my interest in visiting fantastical places I've seen in a dark theater with hundreds of strangers. Maybe it makes me feel like I'm living a little of the cinematic magic. In any case, it's all a bit cheesy but I can't deny that I'm into the cheese.
The temples of Angkor can best be described as the Disneyland of old Buddhist and Hindu temples. (I wish I could give you more history about the temples, but unfortunately, I don't remember much from the Lonely Planet guidebook.
I opted for the tuk tuk option of course and toured around with my super awesome (and very cute) Cambodian driver, Hung or Ah Hung (the communication thing didn't work out very well), who put up with my lightning fast temple tours (kind of how I approach museum visits). He also indulged my sporadic and frequent bathroom needs - I swear I have the world's smallest bladder and I wasn't about to get dehydrated either.
So, at 5:20am when I descended 10 minutes early, Hung was already waiting for me. It was pitch black and I dressed way too lightly for the pre-dawn chill. In any case, I was prepared for the dust with my facemask and sunglasses. When I arrived at Angkor Wat, the sky was just beginning to lighten a bit and there were heaps of people (mostly Chinese tourists) already perched all around the outer walls. The great thing about traveling alone is that there is always room for a solitary Chinese girl to squeeze in. I had a delicious breakfast of seaweed-flavored Cambodian version of Goldfish and waited for the sun to make its way up.
I don't how to describe to you the immense size of Angkor Wat and the spiritual effect of watching the blood-orange red orb rise over the towers of Angkor Wat. Perhaps, it has become nothing more than an exploited tourist attraction but it s incredible to ponder the longevity of these temples which have survived centuries of war and natural disasters (with a little help from modern restorations). And though I'm not a very religious person, the quasi-pilgramage of visiting the temples had a profound effect on my voyage of self-discovery. I'm not sure you can consider my $10 ultra-contrived elephant ride around the Bayou Temple a quasi-pilgramage, but I guess the fruition of months of planning and finally arriving in a very foreign country on my own to soak in the millenium of history felt like a bonafide pilgramage.
The first day I went from sunrise to sunset, a tiring but interesting trip through Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (Bayou and other temples), Preah Khan, and Ta Prohm where I relived Tomb Raider. I watched the sunset over a tiny lake (that's being generous...could have been a cesspool), in which little kids were playing in the unequivocally unhygenic water. A boy of around 10 years old wore me down until I bought a bottle of his water.
"Buy my water."
No, I don't want any, I have my own.
"What you like? Buy my coconuts. Buy my postcards. 10 for $1."
No thank you. I don't want 10 postcards.
"Whaaatt? Buy my water. I need the money go to school."
Ummm, (damn, he used the school excuse and I'm a sucker for education) I'm just trying to watch the sunset. If I buy your water, will you leave me alone?
Good to know that the children of Cambodia are receiving a proper education in the English language and economics.