I had wanted to visit Angkor Wat for many years and I thought this would be one of the highlights of my trip. I was filled with anticipation, so much so that I decided I would spend an entire week just chilling and enjoying the town and the temples.
Sadly sometimes reality does not meet expectations. First I was ill, five days in bed, with fever, chills, headache, runny nose and bad stomach cramps. I was feeling frustrated that after waiting for so long, I was only a few miles away from the temples but did not feel like going out.
Second, Siem Reap, the town closest to the temples is very, very touristy and devoid of any charm. Streets filled with neon lights advertising loud bars and restaurants. Soulless.
Third, after many weeks of visiting temples and pagodas, I was feeling pagodaed and templed out. And fourth, the crowds were just awful. People everywhere. It is a popular sight, specially with Chinese tourists that come here by the bus load. Loud, pushy and not very sensitive to other people. After waiting for nearly half an hour for the sunrise, having clearly staked out my spot, someone sets down his tripod right in front of me. I gave him a piece of my mind and he did pick up his gear and shuffled away a foot or two.
Angkor is beautiful and the detail of the carvings is magnificent. But I was more interested and impressed by some of the other temples that had gigantic trees growing out of the walls and ceilings. I had never seen anything like it before. I suppose that it is the unexpected that makes more of an impression. Perhaps it is just me.
I did fall prey to the baby scam. A ten year old holding a baby frantically tugging at my hand saying “No money just milk for the baby” I look at this baby that is probably about a month old and I know that I am being taken for a ride but if there is the tiniest glimmer of a chance that the milk will go to the baby, I can’t say no. How do you say no to a baby. So we go to the grocery store and I fork out $13 for a big tin of formula. I was told the next day that it is a well know trick. I didn’t care.
I did however, have the answer to a riddle that had been bugging me for weeks and across several countries. It is not uncommon to see men who have moles on their faces and enormously long hairs coming out of them. And I mean hair that curls type of long. I always find myself unable to look away, it is hypnotic. It turns out that it is considered good luck. Mmmm. I think I prefer a rabbit’s foot.