Gloomy with restoration work
Angkor Wat is a huge temple complex built by King, Suryavarman 11 dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu. It's three-tiered pyramid-like structure and surrounded by moat. It is 1 km square and consist of 3 levels surmounted by a central tower. Many of the walls were carved with intricate Apsara dancers. Tourists who visit Siem Reap would not be complete if they don't come and watch the sunrise there. The sight is said to be magnificent if you're lucky to get the sunrise. We were not so lucky due to cloudy weather. Guide books advised tourists who come for the first time to see Angkor Wat in the afternoon where there will be full light. Then they might see the spectacular beauty of this ancient temple.
The first time I visited Angkor Wat was in 2006. Angkor Wat was not undergoing intensive restoration then and I got to see the actual old temple.
My main disappointment was seeing the steep, narrow stone steps to the top level of the temple was closed and was replaced by wooden steps. I remembered in 2006, how my friends and i admired those brave tourists who climbed the steep almost upright steps on fours. We tried but after a few steps up, we gave up and slowly backed down. There was only one side railing to hold on to go down, but no railing to hang on on the way up. I told Mardi earlier that I didn't want to climb and gleefully wondered whether Maz would dare climb it. My fear flew out of the window when I saw the wooden steps, sturdy and not so steep with strong railing to hold on to. I bravely climbed and at the same time pointed to Maz the original narrow stone steps which are still visible. When visiting this upper level of the temple, ladies have to be modestly dressed with sleeved blouses and no hats. Many western tourists were turned away when they came in shorts and bared shoulder tops. A number of the passageways were closed to tourists due to restoration work. It rained when we were up there.
It was quite a long walk to see the temple area and I was thankful that I brought my chair cum walking stick with me. I was able to rest my flat feet when Mardi narrated the story of Hindu mythology carved on the wall.
With Mardi's suggestion, Maz climbed the short steep steps to the library. I opted to stay and wait. I am glad that Maz was able to come and visit Angkor Wat and the the surrounding attractions to satisfy her curiousity. We went back to the hotel exhausted.
Another interesting visit we made was to Lake Tonle Sap which is reputed to be the biggest lake in Southeast Asia. This time the guide took us through the canal passing Kampong Phluk where fishermen live in crowded high stilt houses. Though the village is so packed with people, they manage to keep the canal clean. I hardly see plastic bottles or plastic bags floating on the canal. They know it's important to keep the water clean because that's their livelihood. This is a lesson many Malaysians should learn. Illegal immigrants, factories and irresponsible people pollute the rivers to the extend that nothing could survive in it. Klang River is one good example.
A vegetarian picnic lunch was prepared for us and we had ours in a restaurant on the lake. The Tonle Sap tour I went to in 2006 was in different route. We didn't take a boat through the canal. I recalled we saw a lot of floating houses and children swimming begging when they saw tourists coming. This time we were not bothered by heart-pulling poverty and pathetic living condition.
I am happy I had the opportunity to see the other side of Tonle Sap. On the whole, this was a very enjoyable trip and thank you to my lovely daughter, Maz, for taking me with her. May Allah bless you my love.