Bampy Rood

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Got to lie-in today til 4am. As previously arranged with Lat the taxi driver we got picked up at 5am to reach Angkor Wat for sunrise. I thought it was a bit daft going so early but as it turns out we weren’t alone. You pay US$20 to enter the area on a day pass, a 3 day pass is available but not at all necessary, just suffer the heat and do it! Lat stopped at the front and said something like ‘you go there, and then come here to pee in trees’…..what? I thought he wanted us to use the toilet in the trees. Why would he want this, I noticed out the ‘P’ for parking sign at the trees…aaaahhh, I get it now.

There are plenty of photo opportunities along the walk up, as we were there an hour before the sun popped its smile over the temple tops we decided to wander around the inside areas while everyone else lingered at the front.

At that time it’s light enough to see most of the steps and get a good view of the grounds pretty much undisturbed. There is a certain eerie feeling about the place as it’s dark and quiet, and the stone is blackened making it look almost burnt. Through the back we could hear the distinctive sound of a gecko, I can’t describe it properly without doing the noise but it is rarely heard.

We went back to the growing masses for sunrise and it is slightly tinged by the few clouds about. There was a little dog scooting around and his owner lady was approaching people offering hot coffee, yeah, cos I really need warming up, it’s only a chilly 33 degrees at 6 in the morning.

On leaving the temple there are suddenly kids running at you from every angle ‘please sir, you want postcards?’, ‘you want bracelets?’, ‘you need flute?’.

it was a bit intimidating at first but they seriously will not take no thanks for an answer. You desperately want to help each and every one of them out but as soon as your wallets out, that’s it! We leave them with nothing and feel really low.

Angkor Wat is definitely the most impressive temple we have ever seen. It is less bright than many others and still ruined enough to maintain its dignity.

For the rest of the morning we visit a few more temples, notably Ta Phrom (where Tomb Raider was filmed) being the next most impressive. As with all temple tours though you can have too much.

There were also many more kids at each entrance/exit, still we didn’t buy anything. Normally we wouldn’t be so tight, but we have no room to pack this stuff.

One girl was following me saying ’England hey?, Prime minister Gordon Brown, last PM Tony Blair, capital is London….’ the list went on. Then I was followed by a girl, 5 or 6 years old, offering me flutes and playing them as I walked. I feel awful, but there are dozens and dozens of them. At our last stop when we exit we are again smothered. Nobody else is being harassed but I think the difference is that most people will not make eye contact or even acknowledge their existence. We can’t be that rude though, we can’t just dismiss people like that. We head to Lats car and are begged upon the whole way and by a boy no older than 4 and a tiny dirty girl no more than 3, it wretches your heart. We buy flutes from the boy and I give some money to the girl.
What are we going to do with two flutes?

At the end of some temple stops Lat would say ‘you walk over there to next temple, go see it, I wait for you down the road, under a tree in the car’ cheers mate! You go get nice and chilled in your air-con under a tree and we’ll walk along side you in this toaster.

The afternoon pick-up with Lat was at 4.30pm. It was an hours drive to port, if anyone else was driving it would be half that, I think he thought he was driving Miss Daisy. It was an interesting drive past houses on stilts, packs of dogs, the bumpiest road in the world, Lat cried out ’Bampy Rood’. It always fascinates me just to sit back and travel through the changing scenery, from dirty rivers to fields upon fields of Lotus flowers, I saw so much I can’t even recall it.

 

At the port we buy a boat ticket for the floating village, it’s US$20 per boat, the boat can hold up to 10 but we ended up in our own. Our pilot was called Dookie, a young happy guy. We had only gotten about 5 minutes up river when Dookie takes his foot off the gas. He turns to us and starts on about how college costs him US$40 per month and his wages are US$20 per month, there was a lot more chat that we just couldn’t understand or hear over the engine. I don’t know what the Hell he’s going on about so I just smile, agree, and occasionally raise my eyebrows and say ’reeeaaallly, oooh’, I think I blagged that one! It’s then that we notice the back of his t-shirt reads “Kill your enemies”, better hope he likes us then!

The boat ride to the main village takes a good half hour with much to see en route.

There is a floating boat garage, floating houses, kids playing in the water, passenger boats stuck in the riverbed (hope that’s not gonna be us soon). As we reach the main village the river opens up into a vast lake with battered wooden boats everywhere. It’s surreal to see, I can’t explain just how many boats there are. We chug about them and it’s a sad sight to see toddlers stumbling around such tiny dwellings forever bobbing about. There is a floating basketball court, a school, bars, clubs. But still all are poverty stricken wooden shacks bobbing about. Nearly all the occupants are very welcoming and smiley. Dookie tells us about the childrens school and how they have no money or equipment. There is a shop to buy books and pencils from for the kids, seems a bit of a swizz, but we really want to be able to help even if a little bit.
To get in the shop we pull up to it and attach a rope, then climb up the walk along the front of the boat and jump onto the shop.

In this tiny floating shop with barely enough room to stand upright in there was a monkey. Poor little thing was tied by a chain and a bit of wire to a rail with about 3 inches slack on it. It was going mad and trying to chew through the chain. There was snacks, water, beer, all the essentials and of course stationary for the school. He wanted an absurd amount of money for a pack of books and a bunch of pencils, he wouldn’t even entertain bargaining, I guess a lot of people just pay it. If only he could be a bit more generous to the school himself, he would still make money and the school would benefit. But it seems it’s a tough life for everyone there.

We walk away with just pencils for the school.

He takes us to the floating crocodile farm. There was a guy trying to get us to put pythons on ourselves but…no! Then as we are heading back to look at the crocodiles he jokingly tries to throw me in, hilarious hey? There were loads of them some big, some small but all hard as nails looking.

Then we leave, back on the boat, feeling the hot breeze. It’s like being a hamster in front of a hair dryer. Just before we get back to port Dookie slows down again, here we go. ’you like tour, I drive boat, I am at college, government own boat, you give me tip, can you drive boat?’ Hold on, go back a second, you don’t ask for tips. I felt bad then but we can’t afford for people to take advantage at every opportunity. Dookie is in a mood. He crashes into port and says ’OFF’.

There followed a wobbling drive down Bampy Rood.

breezejen says:
Reading this made me laugh to myself. Thanks. I really enjoyed it.
Posted on: Jul 17, 2009
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The basketball court at the floati…
The basketball court at the float…
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