“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Siem Reap and the world heritage site of Angkor

Angkor park is massive and requires at least 3 days to get round it all. We had a day. Angkor Wat is a famous temple in the middle somewhere. A very old one. I get that. Then there are other temples and stupahs and bayons and ruins and a whole load of other ancient piles of rock which I have to confess I didn't really get at all. But hey we aren't here for a history lesson, we went to take photos and by god did we. We started at 5am and raced in the dark in our tuk-tuk against a thousand other tuk-tuks to get a good spot in front of the temple (wat) and wait for the sunrise. As far as sunrises go, it wasn't the best I've seen and the building itself I hate to say it wasn't all that either. I was more interested in the full moon that was rapidly sinking behind us, but without a tripod it simply wasn't an option for my amateur camera - in fact it didn't cope much better with the Wat either!
We moved on to other decaying buildings and had instruction from Eric about symmetry and searching for the non-standard more interesting shot which I did get to grips with eventually. After a breakfast of hard boiled eggs and mango (on account of having eaten our hotel-provided bread ham and cheese at 630!), we headed back to Preah Khan for our shoot with the monks which was nerve-racking, challenging and not altogether comfortable. But we got there in the end and I have a few images I am happy with. We had taken gifts for the monks and were taken back to a low stilted house for a blessing from them which I really did get quite into. The 3 monks were chanting in unison over our bowed heads and it was actually quite moving.
The heat in the park was ferocious and at times I felt like I was inside a kiln. I have no idea how many bottles of water I got through today, but judging by the time it took to peel my clothes off later, I lost most of it in sweat. Lunch was thankfully another success at a lovely quiet restaurant just outside the park and then it was back in for Ta Prohm - famous for being the set of the Lara Croft films with the ancient ruins being consumed by  enormous tree roots. I played with the infra red filter on my camera and took a load of arty shots to liven things up a bit. Hot as hell here.
Mum, Greg and Eric then went to the Bayon as a final location, but I simply couldn't do it in the heat and ended up discussing the probability of another war in Cambodia with our tuk-tuk driver who estimates a 3-4 year wait for a war with either the Vietnamese or the Thais. It's good to know that cabbies are somewhat similar the world over.
A spare afternoon of swimming, reading and eating followed, which gave me a chance to upload some images to the cloud for safe keeping and do some more washing.
After dinner Eric arrived in a tuk-tuk and we went to Greg's posh spa hotel on the other side of town for some post-processing tuition using the Lightroom software that we finally managed to get installed on Mum's laptop. Brilliant, easy and something I think I will be using when I get home. So much less time-consuming than Photoshop and has all the tools I need and none of the ones I don't. Perfect.
All in all a very long, hot, exhausting but enjoyable day. Tomorrow we are spending the whole day in the surrounding countryside.... rice paddies and floating villages. Bring it on.

1 comment:

  1. No photos - I was uploading them to the cloud last night and must have fallen asleep - I just woke up to the sound of my brand new Chromebook clattering to the floor in my room! I must have kicked it off the bed in my sleep - and now it seems the card reader is broken. oops.