Angkor Wat Archaeological Temples (Day 2)
Today I continued exploring the ruins/temples at Angkor Wat. One of the most unique highlights of the day was the Ta Phrom temple, where they filmed the movie Tomb Raider. Over the course of hundreds of years, massive trees have grown throughout the site, creating a visually unique mix of lush nature and stone ruins.
Another awesome site was Banteay Kdei. It was a bit more ramshackle with collapsed walls and roof sections but it is well shaded and I was able to get some terrific photos.
I met a lot of locals today and had some really great laughs. Whenever I would get off a tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi, girls would quickly approach carrying water bottles and chanting, “Mister, you want to buy water, only one dollar.” It would have been no problem if it was only one woman but at some temples, the hawker stands would unleash a fury of what seemed to be 25 women to all fight for my business. Imagine the women all progressively getting louder and louder bantering about one dollar water and then remember that constant noise would be heard coming and going from each temple. I could tell some other tourists had already “lost it” but I had other plans.
I came up with a silly idea and I started using it to lots of confused looks at first: The second I began approaching the path leading to the temples and I saw the hawker women preparing to come “get me” I started yelling at them. In a manner like a peanut seller at a ball game I continually belted out, “Get your kisses, free kisses, no charge ladies, free kisses for every lady that talks to me.”
It worked – sort of, until I realized that half the women approaching were girls under eighteen. So, I had to modify my “offer” to hugs and I simplified the language as well. It worked like a charm. Two thirds of the girls thought I was totally crazy and the other third got hugs. Best of all it made them smile and I didn’t have to hear about any more one dollar waters because they were too busy listening to me.
I ended the day with a one dollar water girl that got a hug. She and I walked to Srah Srang, which is an overlook of a massive pond built for the wives of the 12th century King, Jayavarman VII. We talked about the scenery as we watched the golden-sun slowly set on the horizon. When I left, she gave me a small handmade star with shiny jewels on it and told me to put it on my suitcase to remember her. I did, and I’m still smiling.
See the Angkor Wat Day 2 photos here.