Tuesday, May 29, 2007

History lesson in Angkor

Leaving meant a panic look at the ‘Things To Do’ list that we had compiled when we first arrived in 2003. Although we never learnt Chinese or how to dive we had visited Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Bali, Vietnam, Australia and the western Malaysian islands of Langkawi and Pangkor. But Jacques still wanted to go snorkeling on eastern Perhentian Islands and see Malaysian Borneo in May, with the idea to climb Mount Kinabalu. I would have liked to have gone to Beijing or Japan too, but time was running out and we only had one two-week holiday to squeeze it all in.

And there was Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, which we both wanted to go to. Two of my friends, Anne and Corinne had raved about it but we had put off going because they said it was not good for young children. So we left Gabriel with the maid (and surveillance from three trusted friends, took Marc and Nina out of school for a brief 3½ day trip. It was odd just having Marc and Nina. I thought they would be happy to be without their pesky brother, but they still bickered and squabbled anyway, but at least they were interested in the history of Angkor Wat.

We had a stunning hotel and quickly found a chauffeur/guide, which was the only way to see the whole ancient site in such a short time. He drove us everywhere with patience, waiting while we scrambled up hundreds of steps to the tops of temples, admired the giant stones faces and visited the local silk farm. Marc and Nina handed out dollar bills to all the local children and came back with a collection of scarves, paper flowers, stone carvings and whistles. I found a market and shopped like I would never go to Asia again, buying a puppet, silk handbags, brightly coloured hammocks, turquoise pottery, art and my favourite, a heavy stone Buddha’s head.

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