Wandering What in Angkor Wat
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 34 of 52 › view all entries
April 19th, 2007 – by: Natasha
And yet for one glorious unforgettable hour my pigmy-like proportions were forgotten as I gallivanted around the surreal ancient temple of Angkor Wat, feeling distinctly Tomb-Raiderish.
I was lucky; my guide had recommended I buy a 24-hour pass that would permit me to visit the site that evening as well as the following day. (â€˜Siteâ€™ is a totally misleading description as it implies a small place with edges, but actually the area is more like a magical forest that goes on forever, with a network of tree-lined avenues connecting a series of magnificent mystical wonders)
Iâ€™d been dropped at the temple entrance a while before sunset. A lengthy stone cobbled road leads across a giant lake to the perimeter walls of the Wat. The approach alone is strikingly beautiful. My mind was playing tricks on me as it kept pushing forth images of English country homes in Austen novelsâ€¦ must be something about the stone walls, the still water, the classic dignity, and Mr.
So with my new Lara legs I galloped up to the vast entrance, madly firing my camera off all around me, as if it were a pistol from one of those strappy thigh-holsters. The light was changing as evening drew in. Iâ€™d love to say the skies were streaked with purples, yellows and reds, and in my memory they almost are, but in truth the sky was just getting greyer. None the less, the fading light coupled with my relative solitude (the tourists mustâ€™ve all gone to another ruin) amounted to a spookily surreal atmosphere.
The large, solid entrance archways are engraved with dancing asparaâ€™s and praying figures, (more quick-fire photos) and once through I had to pause for a moment to take in the humbling view ahead.
I canâ€™t rightly recall whatâ€™s most breathtaking about seeing Angkor Wat up close for the first time. Maybe itâ€™s the sheer bigness, or the oldness, or the way it defies modern civilisation by itâ€™s very being. I suppose one gets a similar feeling at the pyramids and the sphinx. Well whatever the notion, itâ€™s exciting and humbling and the rest of the world just falls away.
With less than an hour remaining before the temple closed I set about my raid. During this time I was truly lost in adventure so I canâ€™t clearly describe for you everything I saw.
As the sky was turning navy it began to rain, reminding me of the time and of my driver waiting outside. Having no idea whereabouts I was it seemed wisest to find ground level and go from there. This posed something of a problem as I was stuck at the top of one of the cones and the steps leading down looked distinctly lethal.
I could hear guards calling out now, rounding up the last stragglers of the day. Still feeling pulses of Lara running through my veins, I figured Iâ€™d make it down the jutting death slide, if only I concentrated really hard. So I flung my flip-flops over the edge and flexed my toes on readiness. Just then a guard yelled at me. He was a pin-figure down there on the ground but clear enough to be waving his arms in a clear NO!! fashion, and waving me around to another side of the cone. A few random scramblings later and I found a set of friendlier steps, at the bottom of which stood the guard holding my shoes.
I was the last person out and I sprinted back along the path to the entrance, still spinning around every now and then to get another glimpse of the temple before night took it away from sight and the adventure ended. As I took the last step off the temple grounds my cross-looking driver scooted up on his mini-moped. Lara with her super-bike and super-legs faded back into the film-set silhouette of Angkor Wat, and I was left with a grumpy driver, a bike with the kudos of a hairdryer, and little legs that stop way short of my earsâ€¦
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