Angkor Wat reflections
“I have wondered all my life, and I have also travelled.The difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment”-Hilaire Belloc.“
Now where was I?”, I wonder. Oh yes… the 6-km city. Its not everyday I get a free flight and hotel stay with breakfast thrown in. In fact hardly, unless it’s some contests I’ve won. Lucky charm must have crossed my zodiac star. I was in Siem Reap with my boss and about 20 delegates from Malaysia for the Annual International Rubber Conference recently. One of the participants suffered a slip-disc at the last minute. Despite some earlier apprehensions as I was the only rose among the thorns, I threw caution to the wind. With so much being written and talked about, nothing is like seeing the place with your own eyes. Don’t let the “long walk, the climbing, the heat” stop you from visiting this ancient ruins, a UNESCO heritage. I called it a 6-km city because Siem Reap is such a small place but rich in histories, ancient sites, a shoppers’ paradise and handicrafts. From the tuk-tuk to riding pillion on a motorbike, to taxis or even public bus is at the snap of a finger. The commercial center from banks, government offices, hotels or restaurants is confined within the 6-km radius. If you are going during the hot season, be prepared with masks or scarves to cover your nostrils. The choke-filled air is quite bad. But if it rains the night before, then going sight-seeing in the tuk-tuk for US$2 per ride or US$8-10 for a whole day, is a breeze. If you intend to enjoy your visit to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, buy a three-day ticket. Some who went there with children finds it a drag. Under the shady trees, there are rows of stalls selling local coconuts or drinks to quench your thirts, food for your growling tummy or browse through the many well-crafted silk tablecloth, shirts/T-shirts and souvenirs if you need to rest your tired legs.In the outskirts, besides Angkor ruins, there is the Tonle sap (Floating lake), a heart-wrenching experience for me, the silk farm, Land Mine museum and the Cultural village. Besides these, the town has many things to offer :the National Museum, Royal garden, Asia craft and gems center along the Pokambor Ave. Many food stalls lined the roads. If you are in the vicinity of National Museum , drop in at the Borey Sovann or Chaopraya restaurant for your food. Most tourists take their meals here. There are a variety of choices, from local to western food for US$2.99 to US$5.99. From the Angkor Holiday hotel where we stay, it was walking distance to the Centre and Old market. After 8.00 pm. you can visit the night market where you find more handicrafts and souvenirs. Along this same street, Sivutha Ave, there are some night spots such as Jasmine Angkor or Blue Wave bistro for karaoke or enjoy a few drinks watching scantily clad dancers.
And don’t forget to taste their French loaf. One of the best. Can be found in most of the food stalls. That must be a legacy inherited from the French, who occupy Cambodia in the 19 Century.
Bas reliefs on the South-West gallery
boat people in Tonle Sap, “Floating Lake”