Sunday, April 19, 2009

Holiday in Cambodia: Angkor Wat

While I wasn't in Cambodia for as long as I'd have liked, of course I had to visit Angkor – with the famous stone temples that are the only remnant of the sprawling capital city of the powerful Khmer Empire, from a thousand years ago. It was a bizarre but interesting bus ride from the capital city of Phnom Penh. Two lanes the whole way through, the road seemed to be some kind of center to Cambodian village life – it passed through village centers, frequently punctuated by wedding ceremonies held directly against the road. Also noteable were all the water buffaloes, even directly across the river from Phnom Penh's city center. There were occasional rest-stops, which were just big dirt fields with local bazaars set up, for all the busses.

I won't have much to say about the actual temple complexes. They were stone and beautiful. The scale of it all was crazy - in particular, the central Angkor Wat is amazingly large, and furthermore is surrounded by a quarter-mile-wide moat. They're located somewhat apart from each other, maybe a five minute to half-hour drive from one to the next. The thing to do is to rent a tuk-tuk driver for the day. Anyway, here's a few favorite pictures – it was really dark and grey for most of my time there, which certainly didn't help for photographing old stone temples that tended to be dark and grey.

Siam Reap is a city nearby to all these temples, it's evolved as the jumping-off point. It's obviously a total tourist spot, and usually I hate that sort of thing, but maybe having been in Shanghai for so long I appreciated the conveniences – there were great import groceries, foreign bookstores, foreigner bars, and a selection of both foreign and Cambodian restaurants, aimed at clueless foreigners. One I went to had a free dance show. I'm sure it was totally cheesy if you knew anything about Cambodian dance, but as a casual tourist I enjoyed it.


Anonymous said...

hi jeff! just ran across your blog and i really love it. this comment isn't related to the cambodia post in the slightest, but just wanted to recommend a restaurant in shanghai that's a family favorite: "Nanling". It's in the french quarter, and possibly needs a membership (my god-aunt flashed some sort of card last time we were there, but that's really all i know about that). happy eats!

Jeff Rutsch said...

Thanks - it looks like you're talking about od/restaurantreviews/gr/Nanling_Rest.htm ? It looks like a fun place and I'll give it a try sometime.