I don't think I can describe how I felt when I saw the extravagant man made architectures that were built thousands of years ago. Wherever I stepped, I tried to imagine how it would have been like to live in such a magical place way back then. I felt like an insignificant tiny dot standing right next to it. The place that stunned me the most was Bayon. I got goose bumps when I saw all those stone faces looking down on me. Call me crazy, but I can personally feel the spirit that rooted deep inside each and every stone.
My tiny complaint is at the most obvious place - Angkor Wat. As beautiful as it is, I think that's where it has lost its magic. Perhaps, It's the tourists like you and me that sucks all the spirit out of the place.Well, I took the "you and me" part back. I think you can visit and admire the place, but you also need to have a lot of respect for it. However, A tour group I encountered at Angkor Wat certainly didn't. They kept cheering their tour members when each and every one managed to climb up to the top of the palace. The behavior, I found, was very inappropriate for such a spiritual place.
I love the lake that surrounded the temples though. Looking from the outside, it's so peaceful and serene.Anyway, I have to mention the orphans (how very Angelina Jolie of me) who roamed around the streets. Despite the lives without family, I can still see the spark in their eyes, the smiles of their faces, the wit they use to go through lives like this young beautiful lady. This is the my favorite picture of the whole trip.
There was another girl we met on the first day while climbing up the mountain to look at the sunset. We saw her sitting on the road begging for money. On the way back, it was pouring down rain. We were completely soaked. Everyone was trying to either run to the car or find the cover but she was still sitting there not moving even an inch. Maybe she had no where to go, maybe it's part of her job that needed to be completed. Some may felt sorry for her, but I actually admired her strength.
I can't finish this blog without writing about the food. Cambodian food is very close to Thai's, just a tiny less spicy. If you get a chance to visit Siem Riep, you have to visit "L'Escale des Arts & des Sens", a Cambodian-French restaurant right at our hotel (which by the way, Sonia, exceeded way beyond our expectation. Thanks!) We had absolute happy stomach and happy face leaving the place. We sat on a big wooden chair lying down, eating and chatting away. We had 2 big sets of the most beautiful and tasty tapas, the most interesting main course (I had beef 7 ways) and the fabulous desserts. We got to talk to the owner, Mr. Prestaut, who came to visit from France. He kept checking in on us every once in a while. Apparently, he has a lot of restaurants around the world and is a good friend of "Face" owner. He's a very nice friendly guy who made the whole night even more relaxing for us. The below two pictures were taken from the restaurants' website. I felt so relaxed I forgot to take the pictures of my own.
It was an eye opener trip at Siem Riep really. I definitely want to go back to explore the parts I haven't been to, to hopefully meet more nice and friendly people and to capture more of the lives of this city again. When that time comes, I know just the right person to talk to ;)
Nusara (O) & Derrek Clarke
Traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia in September 2007