An American Abroad

Cambodia: Angkor Thom, Part 2

[Read Cambodia: Angkor Thom, Part 1.]

In Angkor Thom, there is a riot of images carved everywhere into the living rock.

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But nearby Bauphon looks like a Greek temple, with its rectangular design and column-supported roof.

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Bauphon is a mess, archaeologically speaking. In the sixties and seventies, archaeologists began a restoration project which involved pulling out stones (most of which had collapsed) and cataloging their position. Then when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, the records of what stone goes were were destroyed or lost. Later restoration crews had to try to figure out how to put the place back together. I suppose they did as well as could be expected, but it’s obvious even to my untrained eye that some things just aren’t right.

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Out in back of the ruins, however, I met some oxen who consented to a few pictures before turning their asses toward me in disdain.

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I also saw some machinery–a well? a pump?–that I couldn’t identify.

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By the time I completed a circuit of Bauphon, the tourist throngs had arrived: hundreds of folks all wearing the same hat or T-shirt so they won’t get separated from their particular group. The young women in these groups were particularly insufferable, posing for pictures among the ruins for their husbands or their girlfriends like wanna-be fashion models using Angkor as mere scenery. It’s like they came here to make Angkor all about themselves. Grrr.

My modest contribution to the genre is below.

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It was hot. Even the Cambodians say it’s hot. And that’s saying something. By about 11:00 in the morning it was about 100 degrees and my shirt was soaked with sweat. I was seriously thirsty, but to the Cambodians’ credit, there are no snack bars or food sellers in Angkor except at the faraway edges. So I hailed a tuk tuk and headed for my guesthouse.

On my way back, I passed my first elephant. This one was carrying a father and two little girls up the hillside by Angkor Thom — $20 round trip. I also passed more gibbons, whole families of them — with babies.

After rehydrating, I packed up and headed for the airport to catch a flight to Laos. I was a little worn out, sunburnt, ant-bit, and blistered from my three days of exploration in Cambodia. I decided that when I got to Laos I’d take a vacation from my vacation and spend my time exploring local pubs rather than archaeological ruins.

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