And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. The Bull is in the midst of his 4th straight AFD and 8th in 9 days. Wow - I hope that this isn't a trend forming...in other trends, I had my 7th straight day of cardio, logging an hour on the bike (and covering 31.5 KM). My legs were a bit tired from yesterday's 5K, but I know that, after another run tomorrow, Friday's definitely a day off (and the promise of Korean cuisine looms on the horizon for the first time ever).
My fun story of the day - I'm walking to the gym, and I notice a taxi with the greatest ad EVER plastered across the side. There's a picture of this curvy little Singapore gal looking afraid as she walks down a dark alley (no doubt one of the many ferocious, untamed, seedy ghettos so rampant in Singapore), and behind her there is this dude who is the SPITTING IMAGE of Kim Jong Il standing behind her with an oversized hand about to slap her ass. Underneath this rather bizarre (and somewhat disturbing) image, it reads: "Protect Yourself." My question is: "From what?" Dark alley ways? Guys with fetishes? North Korea? Fake Louis Vutton purses? Come on, throw me a friggin' bone here, Mr. Bigglesworth...anyhoo, let's get back to Cambodia for my favorite day of the trip and a DEFINITE highlight of our time in Asia - the Jungle Temple of Ta Prom.
|This monument was carved by the local|
Angkor Artisans school. Remember this,
as we'll talk about this school tomorrow.
We hit 5 temples on this day, and again each one was very unique and absolutely worth a visit. Our first stop was a temple that I couldn't pronounce built by an emperor who's name made the Icelandic language look easy (you will see a theme emerging here). For now, I'll call him Joe. The outside of this temple wasn't that impressive, but the interior featured some amazingly well preserved images of Vishnu (he was the most popular of the 3 Hindi gods, apparently). It was interesting, some of the temples were Buddhist, others Hindi, and many had been both throughout the generations. It wasn't uncommon to see a Buddha image beside an aspa (a dancing girl with their impossible knee contortions) or a Hindi god like Brahma or Krishna. And everywhere we went, I was just AMAZED at how detailed and intact all the carvings still were.
|The photo loses some of the amazing |
spatial aspects of the stones, which are
curved and sanded to enhance the reality.
Not that a dude with four arms is all that
realistic, but still...points for creativity.
I mention that now because the Italians had been called in to prop up and level all the towers in this temple. They had removed their tools and scaffolding on all but one (which was off to the side and therefore didn't detract from the photos), so people could see the work they'd done and how they'd gone about it. This place was massive, and the roaming around this yielded more great photos.
|Interesting - the hair on my head resembles|
the grass on the tower. Hot...
It was then a bit of a drive to Banteay Srei, the temples of pink sandstone. These were a bit further off the beaten path (32 KM from Siem Reap), and the road out there was a DISASTER due to all the flooding. Jenny and I always felt SO BAD getting in and out of the car, as we tracked TONS of mud in each time. But every morning it was clean as a whistle again, complete with mineral water chilled and ready for consumption.
Banteay Srei is considered another one of the jewels of Angkor, but it had been off limits until 2 weeks prior due to the flooding. In fact, this was the temple were 200 tourists had to be airlifted by helicoptor once the road washed away (sorry, mum - I just couldn't tell you that before I went...). It was still dicey going to get up there, but the flood water had completely receeded. In fact, something that was interesting was that ancient ponds and pools that are always dry where FILLED with water whilst we were there, giving the temples a bit more of an authentic feel. That also meant fish and crabs, and tons of local folks were out fishing for crabs (Daling could spot those puppies a MILE away) and fish. In fact, hunting, fishing, and gathering was around us at all times in Siem Reap. At one point we saw a guy probably 80 feet up a tree hacking off coconuts. If I'd been up there, I would have been TERRIFIED.
|Daling earned his keep. We have more photos of us together at|
Angkor than in the previous 2.5 years combined.
|At the entrance to Ta Prom - it was like walking onto the set of a movie (which,|
in retrospect, was a true statement).
|The most famous image from Ta Prom - it was featured in National Geographic|
(sorry, Jackie - I mean Nat Geo). We had to come back to get this photo alone,
as our first pass through saw us with 19,000 of our closest Korean friends.
|Tell me she's not ready for the starring role in Tomb Raider 3: The Legend of Angkor Beer.|
|It was supposed to have beeen a romantic shot. But Daling never counted on one |
thing: a fat Westerner's enormous amounts of back sweat.
|Just below one of the spots where they filmed Tomb Raider. We had to wait|
for a Russian couple to talk 11,000 photos here.
The 5th and final stop of the day was Ta Prom, more commonly known as the Jungle Temple. Simply put - THIS WAS ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS I'VE EVER SEEN. Like many of the temples, this one is set deeper into the jungle. Consequently, over time, ENORMOUS trees have sprouted up through the foundations or slowly dropped from the canopy, their gigantic roots covering the stones. I seriously could have stayed here for a WEEK - it was that cool. And whilst I can't remember everything I learned about the temple, I definitely remember a lot about the topic most closely associated with this temple in recent memory - Angelina Jolie.
|Banteay Srei - also known as "mini-Angkor Wat."|
During the filming, Cambodia was considered "unsafe," and so Angelina slept in Bangkok and flew to Siem Reap every day for a month to complete the filming. During this time she fell so in love with the place that she created her own charity organization dedicated to helping Cambodians. The government loved this so much that they made her a citizen, and she's now officially a passport holder (not sure how she'd do on a Khmer language exam, however). She now comes back every 3 months or so (Daling even know that she'd stayed in room 239 last time - WOW), and she always receives a hero's (or heroine's) welcome. The quote that stays with me: "Tomb Raider was the greatest thing to ever happen to Cambodia." Now I really feel better about buying that DVD...
|Move over, Gordon Ramsay or Julia |
Childs - this gal has prepared some
calories and she's not afraid to sell them.
We mixed it up for Happy Hour, going one street over to "the Alley" vs. hitting Pub Street again. After a few drinks (and saying no to 10,000 kids selling everything on earth you would NEVER need), we rolled over to a BBQ joint called "Easy Speaking," where we promptly took down all the raw meat you could handle. And in a new first for Team Taylor, the Bull and Striker tried frog legs! They were actually really good, but dude - you'd need to eat like 700 Amazonian Cane Frogs just to get remotely full. Those puppies were a lot of work. And, considering that they looked like chicken whilst cooking, well, you can imagine how I felt about that (Price - picture the dude washing the kitchen with the raw chicken - that's pretty much how I felt).
After that it was back to the Motherhome, deflecting tuk-tuks and walking through some wet, muddy streets. We then caught an episode of CSI before passing out, another GREAT day in the books. And best of all, we still had one more day of temples! But we'll get to that tomorrow.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and (now safely on the ground in Brisbane and probably just back from the Ocean Park) Jenny