24/12… Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve and those sleigh bells are still jin jin jingling too, coz its just fabulous weather for a sleigh ride together with you. 35C and somewhat crowded in the sleigh with the 150 Malaysian Lions Club members now over running my otherwise excellent hotel. I am a grumpy old fart really (farts not to be trusted or loo opportunities missed,)

Getting a bit frustrated with these full day tours that are finished by lunch time but I guess on the bright side that leaves me free time. Maybe this is what normal people do on holiday.

You will be pleased to know that The Blue Pumpkin cafe at which I am eating lunch and using free wifi has an Argentinian Malbec that is by all accounts (the menu) unctuous, fresh and with notes of cheery. Gotta be happy with that really. Me I’m sticking to iced coffee. What is unctuous when at home? And cheery wine?

So, today, Christmas Eve, sold as a full day tour out of town to a village and local market, pre-Angkor Wat ruined temple, lunch included, hmmmm.  The village was a major intersection on the highway, the market stank – could have been the buckets of fish paste some in the sun, just a thought. Anyway clicked a few shots of innocent bedraggled looking veg and it was back in the car.

My driver, Paa, he’s 19 and loves his work, but well he’s terrified of the accelerator and of other traffic poor love. So at speeds barely approaching 50 km/hr we were off (slowly, gently, tentatively.)

In due time we reached Boeng Mealea – so called temple of beautiful flowers on the lake. No flowers, no lake, notice again the naming inconsistencies but yay great ruin! Yay. This totally ruined temple was beautiful. Only recently cleared of mines it was a Khmer Rouge hideout for years and you can imagine why. Dense forest, high ruined walls, fallen stone arches from which to appear or disappear or shoot, inner courtyards hidden from all but above and internal passages hidden even from above. Amazing place.

Let your mind leave the horrors of civil war and slide into fantasy, myth and Hollywood…

See now huge blocks and columns and carved towers crumbling almost before your eyes covered in carvings and lichen and leaves and trees. Tall straight white trees rising 50m to the sky with trailing strangler fig vines. I kept expecting Orlando Blume to swing out and point to the west. Or appear magically in a high semi collapsed arch, long white hair shinning in the sun straight and white as the trees, Elf ears pointing to the sky, gazing pensively toward a horizon obscured by trees. Imagine those trees like the white tree carved on the door to Moria just taller and straighter and less foliage till really high up. Imagine white Gandalf appearing out of the trees in a stream of sunlight among the crumbling walkways of the giants. (sorry crumbling causeways of giants might have been more Stephen Donaldson than Tolkien but don’t be pedants, go with the mood, go see the Hobbit before I get back just because you can you, you horrid people) anyway back to the imagery. Imagine the fallen heads at the end of Fellowship of the Ring and later just before Frodo and Sam enter Mordor springing white flowers in the last rays of morning. Well there were no fallen heads at this temple but you get the picture, the emotion, the dream. Sorry for this paragraph non-Tolkien fans. Suffice to say it was magic.

Boeng Mealea
Boeng Mealea

There were lots of Chinese and Japanese tourists but they were largely harmless and mostly in one area. It was really magic. I’m sure those photos will look just like the preceding 260+ to you lot but I had fun-even walked around twice (think Sok was embarrassed we were finished by 1030. Full day tour my mozzie bitten butt!)

And so having finished my iced coffee I guess there’s only one thing for it…. Back to the hotel to organise myself a half day took took for tomorrow’s self guided temple tour!! Then, yep, pool time!!

Ok so I’ve organised myself a half day Took Took for tomorrow and I’m bored now. Is this resting and relaxing really what normal people do on holidays? Boring!! Tonight I could be reduced to doing washing in the bath and going to bed early. I should wander down Pub Street, perfectly safe madam, but I’m not hungry and have a fit of the can’t be bothereds. Wonder who’s singing the Holy City at Carols by Candlelight.

The nice Took Took man is picking me up at 630 for Lara Croft Mach 2 – the un-guided sequel. I’ve planned where I need to go back to from yesterday and am quite excited about venturing out on a plan of my own.

I need to put my own music on the hotel Christmas Muzac is making it through my solid hotel room door.

Oh one footnote to part 1… The statue of the Leper King (same king who built the playing fields and grandstand presumably while still healthy, kinda freaky) well on its base it has the name of the Hindu god of judgement. Do do do do (apply own scary music and repeat pls). So going with my theory: was he sitting in condemnation of those healthy buggers out on his playing fields as he literally fell to bits? Did he think his sickness was judgement on himself for some secret sin hidden in history that made him king of the damned? Did he see himself as some kind of grotesque warning?

Ok can’t be bothered going out looking for Santa, gonna have a shower and hit the sack with a barely passable book….

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight 🙂

Author: Wendy's Out of Station

I write as a way of processing and reflecting on experience, and as a way of sharing that experience. When I travel I used to write email journals back to friends, family, anyone who’d read and risk immersing themselves in my reality for a while: writing for them was a way of writing for me. Borrowing from Graham Greene in a flip of Travels with my Aunt, I imagined writing letters to my nieces, as their travelling aunt. Crafting the sentences became a way of extruding the experience, giving it birth, drawing its meaning from my soul, nurturing it into something tangible with a life of its own. The aim of my blog is to open the world to my thought-children, to let them out of the safety of my friends and family and let them experience the world. And in the process I get the honour of taking a larger group with me when I’m wandering around India and beyond, or just reflecting on parallel truths, thinking thoughts that take me to new places new beginnings. Please journey with me

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