Thursday, September 25, 2008

elephants at the wat

I went to Angkor sometime last week. It was rainy to start, but the weather got with the program and kept things cool, but dry. Later in the afternoon the cloud cover broke up enough to afford me some nice looking light.I have been a bit apprehensive about writing about Angkor. I feel like it was one of those things I heard so much about, how impressive it is, how inspiring and amazing. But this is the thing, they had elephants. Ok so I know that is weird comment, elepants, but you have to keep in mind I hang out in Mundo Maya, there were no elephants there, no horses, no llamas, no beasts of burden to speak of, no wheels. Now I am not trying to compare Maya pyramids to Khmer temples, I just feel that the elephants explain why I feel a bit less bowled over by Angkor. They had elephants to carry those big rocks while the Maya carried them on their backs. But yes, they are beautiful and impressive works of ancient architecture, elephants or no.

The first day I took a tour with some friend's of Michael. We did the whole guide thing, with a tuk-tuk, complete with lunch at the expensive tourist restaurant. I dig on having a guide, as long as you can get a good one, they point out interesting things, give cultural context, and for me make big piles of rocks make a bit more sense. Another part of the guide thing is that they won't get you lost. My second day at Angkor I went back to do some sketching and painting, entonces I didn't have a guide. Though I had been there the day before I still managed to get lost over and over again. Obviously getting lost means getting to discover things on your own, it also means that you can miss some things entirely.

It was really nice to sit and watch the world pass by, and to slow down viewing the faces of Bayon to the speed of my pencil. Plus, being the sketching Barang you become a bit of a tourist attraction yourself.

Images (from top to bottom)
Elephants on the road towards bayon. The exterior of Bayon as seen from the north. Takeo's eastern side. Flags within the temple on the top of Takeo. Alter in one of the entrances of Angkor Wat.

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