Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last seen at Angkor

Rumnea brightening the drizzle at an early morning Angkor Wat
I'm taking a breather after an hour in my private pool at Amansara. My first visit to Siem Reap for quite a few months started off particularly well yesterday. I needed to get to temple town in five hours in order to book into my hotel and get out again, ready for a dinner-dance show. Mey Hong mini-bus promised me exactly that and boy did they deliver. Actually they were five minutes early - something I've never experienced before in Cambodia. Aman sent a limo to pick up Rumnea and myself on arrival as well as upgrading me to a private pool suite - it doesn't get much better than that. We then scooted over to Raffles Grand Hotel, by limo of course, and were then treated to an excellent eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet whilst watching a group of talented youngsters perform a series of folk and classical dances with a bit of Bokator thrown in for good measure. The salads and chicken curry were particularly memorable, whilst Rumnea fell in love with the smallest monkey boy, who must've been about eight years old. Thumbs up for Raffles. This morning, the alarms went off at 4am with Angkor Wat and sunrise the target, though it's rainy season so it was completely clouded over and the cast of thousands, most of whom were Vietnamese, were sorely disappointed. Fortunately, I've enjoyed my fair share of sunrises, including having the temple all to myself back in 1994. After a substantial breakfast back at Aman, we headed to the Baphuon and its amazingly detailed square panels, which have been off limits for years during reconstruction and this was my first chance to see them since it reopened to the public. It's about as steep to get up and down as Angkor Wat used to be back in the day, but keep your eyes open at each entrance for those remarkable panels, which many visitors simply don't see. The afternoon is the best time to catch the reclining Buddha on the backside of the temple, though most tourists seemed to wander past it without realising it was there. Rieng, taking the morning off from his policing duties - there's a big Asean meeting in town - waited patiently for us as Rumnea got her first glimpse of the Leper King Terrace and then we headed out to Banteay Srei, for another Rumnea first. Rieng, who is an English-speaking guide when he's not got his police uniform on, did the honours for Rumnea, but in Khmer. The Angkor Balloon is only going up in the mornings during the rainy season so we missed out on that, which was a good excuse to return to Aman and take advantage of the welcoming private pool.
I get snapped as we walk through the Terrace of the Leper King

The Apsara dancers at Raffles Grand Hotel last night

You'd be forgiven for thinking Angkor Wat was devoid of people this morning

A monkey v god battle scene from a panel at the Baphuon

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Anonymous Eric said...

From Amansara to the Raffles is 20 meters

September 2, 2012 at 7:48 AM  

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