We made a slightly more leisurely breakfast then we reported to (Mr) Soum and his wonderful transport device and thence to Angkor Wat, the place what everyone comes to see.
This is highpoint of Khmer architectural and sculptural genius, built between 1080 and 1175. A vast site with symbolism at every point, its five towers represent lotus buds, its outer walls the edge of world and its calm broad moat the ocean of the universe.
I made a drawing of the southern section of Bas-Reliefs depicting scenes from a great Hindu battle. As I did this French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, Australian, Russian and Japanese visitors pushed past. Two young students, both in pink struggled with their cameras and tripods.
Angkor Wat was built to impress and with its long terraces and entry causeways it reminded me of some the great forts we had seen in India earlier in the year: monumental scale reflecting enormous ruling power. The Khmer dynasty once ruled most of India and Indo-China.
Post Angkor Wat we had just enough energy for the 3-mile trip to Ta Prohm. This site was discovered by French in the 18th century must today be more or less as they saw it then.
The jungle has not been cut back and the roots of the giant banyan trees weave through the fallen stones and roots cling and sidle around the walls as work goes on to restore the place, stone by stone. You could see that each stone had its own markings as the local archaeologists and workmen seek to piece Ta Prohm back together again
This whole place has a mystery and sense of decay. You can wander at will through dank dark corridors and rooms, the tree cover provides cool places to retreat and take stock of all the fallen stones, plinths and slabs, their high decoration now worn away.
On the long walk back to Soum's yuk-tuk, along a shaded track, traditional Khmer music drifted towards us along the path. There was a group of musicians sat on a raised plinth making this music. I fished out ten dollars for their CD and had my photo taken with them.
“A groip of the cripple musicians at the east Prasat Ta Prum Buy one CD is that you have supported the cripple musians projected in Cambodia”
Amen to that. God Bless us all.