25/12… Best Christmas ever

Well today will take some beating for best Christmas Day ever. What a great day 🙂

I met Mr Bun (long uu pronunciation not short u like fun, don’t know that we have equivalent in English) at 630 just as it was coming light and we headed off to Ta Prom in our open air Christmas Took Took chariot (sleigh) Mr Bun’s red motorcycle helmet shining out front like Rudolph’s nose. (Pls keep all comments re my resemblance to Mrs Clause to yourself, thank you!)

Well devoid of all but a handful of early rising tourists Ta Prom was just magic and utterly engaging, even offering time for a brief solitary Namaste at the shrine set up in the middle. Much better photos (racing a bit to stay in front of a bus load of Russians who arrived later, and succeeding courtesy of the first Cambodian older than me that I’ve met to date. He wanted a $5 tip, I gave $2.) After an enjoyable, mystical hour there I felt reconciled with Tomb Raider and even had a brief chat with one of the Indian archaeologists doing restoration work on the dancing girl’s hall!

Then back to Angkor Wat and a lazy two hours climbing more steps than I’d ever care to count.

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat

OMG. The bas-reliefs were unrelenting, the stairs unending and the views shrouded in haze and or green German tarpaulins or obscured by Chinese/Korean tourists. Don’t think for a second that deterred me. Just fabulous. So like Lara C of old I climbed decades of stairs steep enough to make any Aztec proud, I photographed holidaying Buddhist monks photographing themselves, I talked with other common folk about the amazing detail in the bas-reliefs as we sought to differentiate between our Hindu deities and heroes. I climbed, I huffed, I marveled at the solar panels on the roof of the adjoining Buddhist monastery, I puffed, but mostly I zoomed and focused and clicked for digital posterity!

Angkor Wat - stairs to Level 3
Angkor Wat – stairs to Level 3

<Pause as course 3 of my Christmas dinner’s just arrived. Who could have imagined so many copies of Wham’s Christmas album could still exist in Asia??????>

Where was I? In due course, and rejoined with Mr Bun, suffering exhaustion in a way only conquering the unknown via a staircase to heaven can engender, we were off in search of retail opportunities. Hmmmm. So sorry, the markets are full of cheap local rubbish I wouldn’t buy in a fit. (Except for my bum enlarging elephant pants.) Well the upmarket shops cater to idiots with more money than travel experience – run by Indians full of Indian produce at 3 times Indian prices!! I had two horror moments 1) when the man allegedly from Kashmir spelled it Cashmere on his business card and tried to sell me s $7000 carpet allegedly made by his family. And 2) when a guy offered me a shawl of an endangered animal so endangered it’s “do not pass go. Go straight to jail” illegal to sell in India. His “We farm it in Mongolia” didn’t wash with me when I know the animal lives on the Himalayan snow line.

So sorry no gifts yet.

After lunch and Skype home to the family, Mr Bun and I were off again!

This time out to Bantey Srei. Again fabulous, Mr Bun’s a legend. The 32km trip took 90 mins and was as much a highlight as the temple. It seems nothing goes very fast in Cambodia. So much fun in the Took Took at speeds just over 20 km/hr taking photos, smiling, waving, just like Lady Di. Ok probably enjoyed the slow drive through semi rural countryside more than the temple.

<George & ??? (who was the other member of Wham??) are starting to sound good – can only be the effects of my second Bombay and tonic. Did I ever mention writing/scribing Grandpa Short’s memoirs while he was in palliative care before recovering? When he was in the air force and on the boat to Herd Island he was offered his Christmas alcohol ration and chose gin. He reckoned he didn’t know the other options, anyway he reported he drank the first two with lemonade, the third straight. Here’s Cheers Grandpa!

I’m not going to bore you with details of Banteay Srei, it was a ruined Hindu fertility temple, it was always Hindu, there were masses of carvings, despite being a fertility temple there were no Karma Sutra type carvings, there were too many kids begging who should have been in school – first beggars in Cambodia apart from the mine victims. It was lovely but I’ve nearly had enough temples.

Then Mr Bun drove back toward Siem Reap before I climbed yet another steep temple (OMG v steep, too steep) to watch the sunset. But there were a few hundred people up there and I thought it too dangerous to descend in the dark so we came home in the gathering gloom.

And now here I am: 5 course Christmas dinner, with Bombay gin and Wham, and soon to head for bed. What a great Christmas. Hope you all had this much fun.

xox

26/12

Best left unreported…. Ugh. Sok is fired.

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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