Trompe le Monde: A Round the World Tour Diary

An online travel diary so people can keep up to date with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

Location: Home, United Kingdom

You all know who I am, I assume.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Napoleon Salas and the Temples of Angkor

This was going to be a long and dull post about the temples but I saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on HBO (which we occasionally get in the guesthouse) in bed last night, wearing my own fedora in homage of course, and I decided if anyone wants to know archaeological information they can get it from more eminent sources than me. Suffice it to say that Angkor Wat is the Wrestlemania of the Angkor temples, being as it is the World's Largest Religious Structure, and is bloody amazing, Ta Prohm is where they filmed Tomb Raider scenes, and that if you like the sound of huge temples dedicated to Eastern Gods, built from large blocks of stone, featuring intricate and superbly detailed carvings and set against a backdrop of seething, squawking tropical jungle, this is your place.

What you want to know is what have I been up to since I got over tonsilitis?

Well, mainly I've been seeing the above temples, which has taken up most of my time because 1) there are loads of them, 2) they're a long way away, and 3) I have nothing but a rubbish one-gear rental bike to travel around on.

The closest temple, Angkor Wat, is around 10km from my guesthouse, and the other temples are dotted about from that point on, all at least (and usually more than) 2km from one another, so in the past week I've cycled between 100 and 200km in tropical conditions. And sweated buckets, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The other trouble with cycling, apart from the heat, is the condition of the roads. They're potholed to buggery, and poorly lit, a dangerous combination when you've got up at half four am to see Angkor Wat at dawn and found that the generator on you bike doesn't work. I had to light the way with my torch, precariously held in my left hand while cycling along. Fortunately though a fair few cars were about so most of the time I could sort of see by their headlights.

The other interesting thing that has happened is the death of my sandals. I left them, right as rain, on the guesthouse front porch last night, and came across them this morning, the right one shredded and unusable at the back. What had caused this distressing transformation? The guesthouse dog. It must love my right foot's unique odour because it had had a go at my right trainer as well. Fortunately, converse are made of stronger stuff than "Moby Dick" french supermarket sandals, and so only the lace is slightly damaged. Thus I have some functioning footwear. The guesthouse owner promises me he'll replace my sandals, but, as he explained, sandals are not sold in Cambodia. So presumably I'm soon going to be presented with a pair of Cambodian flipflops. Which, along with my battered green felt fedora, will make me resemble that national stereotype, the English eccentric abroad.

Mind you, national stereotypes are not all bad. Unless you get stuck behind a tour group of Japanese in a picturesque location and you're trying to get past. Trust me on this one...


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