Temple Tourism 101
I know I know. Everyone takes Angkor Wat seriously seriously. And rightly so.
Our guide showing us how big his new backpack needs to be. Read on. I’ll explain later…
We’re talking about the mother of all temples. 900 years old. The largest religious site in the world.Angkor Wat is the mother of all temples. 900 years old. The largest religious site in the world. Click To Tweet
All self-respecting Cambodia holidays should include at least a look at Angkor Wat, shouldn’t they?
You can’t come home from your Cambodia holidays and say you didn’t visit any temples. Can you?
Well you can cheat. If you’re like the other captain and have a low threshold for temple tourism you can play Temple Golf instead of visiting the archaeological sites.
Angkor Wat Putt is a miniature golf course with nine crumbling, accurate scale miniatures of the famous Angkor Temples. A bizarre spiritual experience.
Hey and by the end of the nine holes you can say you’ve visited nine of the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park temples. Bargain.
A tour guide with a sense of humour
If being loose with the truth doesn’t work for you I recommend choosing a guide with a sense of humour. We got lucky. Our guide, Kim, was both a funny guy and a gold mine of information.
After watching sunrise at Angkor Wat, then checking out the Tomb Raider temple we tuktukked our way to Phnon Bok.
During the half hour ride, Kim pointed out the skinny cows, explaining they look anorexic because they were fed on noodles.
And talked about his vision for buying his own tuk tuk and starting an independent tour guide business.
Dreaming of a dwarf wife in a backpack
Over the next bumping half hour, we discussed his business plan, adding helpful suggestions, as you do.
My chef brother in law suggested catering would work as a value add. My archaeologist sister wondered if our guide had family, maybe some kids, who could help out with the barbecue planned for the roof of the tuk tuk?
Well no, Kim said, he was still single. But looking. And came up with the idea of marrying a dwarf so he could carry her in a backpack in the tuk tuk.Our guide came up with the idea of marrying a dwarf so he could carry her in a backpack. Click To Tweet
The idea was for Kim to drive the tuk tuk and do the tour guiding, while his mini wife cooked the satays on the barby on the tuk tuk roof. From within Kim’s backpack.
An innovative twist for solving the space constrictions involved in turning a tuk tuk into a part time food truck.
Do you think it will take off on Shark Tank?
Graffiti or religious recycling?
Angkor Wat was originally constructed as a Hindu shrine, then transformed into a Buddhist temple, spawning some interesting artistic repurposing.
Hundreds of images of Vishnu had beards drawn on them (well, carved into the sandstone). And his crown had been given a makeover to turn it into Buddha’s crowning glory curls.
Of the three temples we visited one, Angkor Wat has been restored. Another, Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider temple) is being refurbished. Although it looks like the trees, not the reconstruction teams, are winning.
And the third, Phnon Bok is still in a beautiful ruin.
Or, according to Tourism Cambodia Phnom Bok is
“a state of ruin, a state of beauty, which is investigated with delight and left with regret”
Part of our regret on leaving was having to face the 635 steps back down the hill with jelly legs (from the 635 steps climb up) in the dusty heat.
Revealing a hidden temple in the jungle
I loved exploring Angkor Wat, it was one of the highlights of my recent Cambodia holidays. It was a barrel of laughs despite the dust and heat and 635 steps.
Have you ever been to Angkor Wat, or on holiday to Cambodia? What were your impressions? Did you love it or laugh about it or take it all deadly seriously?