Yesterday, Thursday, my last day in the Park. A few days before that, though, a kind of fun thing happened, so allow me to now relate to you the manner of its unfolding.
Heading into the store for some watermelonism, noticed this one very friendly tuk-tuk driver sitting out there all by his lonesome. The same one I told about before, who’d slapped his palm to his forehead when I’d told him of the ease with which I’m able to polish off a few watermelons in a sitting. (He later executed the manouevre upon learning that I’d bicycled my dimpled ass up to Banteay Srei.)
He kept always asking if I could spare a watermelon; you know, just horsing around. Then lately he’d been asking whether I could spare a watermelon because his New Year was coming up? I told him that on the 13th, I’d get him a watermelon. Probably he figured I was just horsing right back at him; but it was in fact my intent.
So then I saw him standing there, looking kinda lonely without his usual posse of tuk-tuk driving compatriots, and thought I may as well present to him his New Year’s watermelon a few days early.
Picture doesn’t begin to tell the story of his surprise and elation. His smile was much larger both before and after the photo; and he kept shaking my hand and saying, “Good luck for you,” over and over again. Said he was gonna give the watermelon to his kids. Well…it was more fun that I’ve made it seem. Dude was just so happy to’ve received his New Year’s melon.
So then, last day in the Park. I went in for a kind of “greatest hits” review of my fave temples. Thought I’d start with Preah Khan, which is the furthest north, and work my way back down to Angkor. But couldn’t help stealing a shot of the latter looking too right in the morning light.
But in case you’d been wondering why I’ve not been photographing the monumental Prasats in the full-on wide view; okay, I’ll explain.
That butt-ugly green tarp? Has something to do with restoration work. But it’s utterly impossibly to attain an photographic angle which occludes this damnable tarp. Something of a gyp, really – kinda like if one is attending the amusement park, but finds the best and most funnest ride is closed for maintenance. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose.
I purposed, given that I’d be making return visits to all these temples, to keep the camera in the pocket, and just experience the temples. In point of fact, I did largely succeed in this mission.
Up at Preah Khan, there was a little ceremony going on at the central shrine – to do with the New Year, I overheard a guide saying.
I found a different rubble pile to climb up, right on top of it all, and see the miraculous view again from a different angle.
Sure, it was neat…
…but truth be told, it just wasn’t the same electrifying experience as had been the previous visit’s. Didn’t have the beautiful afternoon light condition; and the aural landscape was not jungle sounds, but rather people carrying on down below.
Something even more than this, though, as it generalised to all of the temples. That is to say, with only one or two exceptions, each of the temples visited in the Park – great or small or somewhere between – was a thrill of a joyride. Some to greater degree than others, naturally. But still, just a stupendous experience offered by more less every one of them.
But I found, yesterday, that the magic did not present for return visits – even though I was returning to my very favourite temples. I’m not complaining: to’ve received the Jolt even once per each was an honour and a blessing. But I was a little surprised that it turned out this way.
Anyhow, there was one thrill remaining, as I for the first time cycled the length of Angkor Thom’s southwest section of moat, which was wonderfully gorgeous on this day.
What I thought I’d do, I thought I’d be able to just ride all the way out to the end, and loop around back to the Wall side of the moat for the return back to the South Gate. See, ‘cause the moat doesn’t entirely ring the city, just only spans the length of the South Wall. But then, almost to the southwest corner, the trail is severed by this channel…
The channel leads I know not where, for it’s not depicted in the map. But at any rate, there would be no passing to the other side without the aid of a Tarzan rope (not present all up in my backpack), so I turned around and rode back in via the same route by which I’d been borne out to the dead end.
I was mistaken, I soon thereafter learnt, about Banteay Srei’s Interpretive Centre being the Park’s sole such endeavour; for Bayon’s got one as well. I’d somehow missed it before. It tells, among other things, all about the artworks lining Bayon’s gallery walls. Like so.
Turns out, an Internet search against the term “presented with an excellent big fish” yields…nada! That’s a bummer.
Both in the Park, and in town, there’re a bunch of machine-gun-toting goons stationed here and there along the streets. Has to do, I think, with Thaksin’s expected to pay visit here during the New Year festivities, and thousands of his supporters are all hepped up to turn out for meet ‘n’ greet.
So far, though, not much going on for the first day of the New Year’s celebrations. Lots of flowers and such are available for sale.
These rocket-looking thingies are pretty cool; they had a bunch of them at Preah Khan yesterday as well.
The shops are itching to sell a poop-tonne of beverage.
Some decorations have been hung. What may just be the World’s longest dust-mop has been put through its paces.
And that’s about it. The temples seem eerily quiet. Not really much going on around town. So we’ll see how it all shakes out. I did have one security guard wish me a “Happy Khmer New Year” – which, I thought it kind of odd that he’d stipulated Khmer New Year, rather that just saying “Happy New Year”. But it’s okay.