Day 25 : 15th October 2019
(Part 1 of pictures) Final day of the onward journey and the excitement of reaching the destination country made us behave like school going kids the night before. Got up late and didnt have time to write my regular blog and sent a message to the world (my) about the delay in posting it. Realized later that I had time before everyone comes down to the concierge and started writing it. It’s better to write when the memories are fresh and you don’t miss out capturing any. Thanks to my fellow travelers, I had time to write and post it through various social media platforms (it take close to 45 minutes just to upload the post, pictures and videos and writing takes more time).
I have some sort of problem and that makes me restless when I don’t complete a certain planned activity as per the schedule. We started our ride at 7:30 am and thought it would be a smooth ride for 150+ km. We hit our first roadblock after crossing a few km and it was a bad traffic jam. After more than 10 minutes waiting or moving at a snail’s pace, we realized a check Naka (police barricades) and someplace was burnt completely. It looked like Dharavi roads on a rainy day and I hoped it won’t be bad for the entire stretch. Don’t know the reason for the fire but we moved quickly. Roads are good (not as good as Thailand) and allow you to gain some speed and momentum. Lush green fields accompanied us (no clouds) and we stopped a couple of times for petrol refueling and regular energy intake.
I felt I was in the US for some time because everything gets quoted in US dollars. Fortunately, they accepted Thai Baht for some distance and the petrol station was within that distance. Another confusion is about what petrol variant to use. Everything is quoted in number (92,95 or 97) and we had to rely on the host to guide us on this. The different number refers to different levels of octane used and using numbers instead of the alphabet is difficult for a new entrant. It’s the same case with Thailand and Myanmar. Smooth riding or driving and Khun Tom helped us in controlling the speed and guided us to overtake the slow-moving vehicles. He went to the other side of the lane and used his hands in stopping us from overtaking or asking us to move faster.
What a lovely chap and he did a better job than any team leader or our eyes would have done. Reached Siem Reap around 10:30 am and straight into the hotel. Got our bags checked in and went for a quick shower and didn’t waste any time. Siem Reap and the outskirts including Angkor Wat is so beautiful and lovely places to live. We got settled again with the right side riding or driving in Cambodia and that helped us manage the left side overtaking and be on the roads. Thailand and Cambodia are not friendly countries and they have their own feuds like India and its neighbors. Apparently both have fought battles and Cambodia won once (told by Khun Tom who is from Thailand) out of 10 times.
Our Cambodia guide made fun of it but stayed friendly and gave us the meaning of Siam Reap. Siam got defeated (insulting) or Siam Arrangement (comforting) is the underlying meaning. Not well taken by the Thais but still conveyed by the Cambodians. No friendship lost between the guides from 2 countries and I was happy about that. We left the hotel and headed towards Angkor Wat which is around 8 km from Siam Reap and entered a dense forest kind of area. Saw some old blocks or stones and realized that we are in the middle of the ancient or historical place. Remember Angkor Wat in the middle of a water body (various social media forwards) and realized that we are very close to the temple.
Excited to reach the destination and about to see one of the wonders of the world (I give a damn about the so-called or claimed 7 wonders of the world and I would rate a minimum 25 world wonders out of 50 from India and more from the Asian countries). Seeing the world’s largest temple complex from a distance itself gave us the feeling of the magnanimous structure and we were still a km away from the temple. Post customary picture of Angkor Wat in the background and we on our bikes, we headed towards the entrance. Before doing this, we had to get our photos clicked at checkpoint number 1 and get the tickets printed at the checkpoint number 2. One day entry fees cost you USD 37 (has some historical relevance) and you can take entry pass for 2 or 3 days.
A ticket gets printed with your picture and what other memorabilia can compete with this. Our guide took us to the water body (still the temple is far from where we were standing) and gave us the historical background of the place. Lots of people have visited this place and have written miles of information about it and I am not going to be any different. So I am not going to write anything about the place in detail and allow you to Google it. Just a few facts to be quoted which may create some interest with the readers. It was built in the 12th century and took “37” years to complete and around 3000 million tonnes had been brought here to make this beautiful temple.
You don’t need a guide and you need a good historian to accompany you and explain to you each spect of the temple. Angkor Wat stands for “Capital City with a temple” and the capital city has moved many times before Phnom Penh took the permanent place. Each inch of the temple is engraved with Ramayana or Mahabharata or some Indian mythological or spiritual stories. Each space is well carved with images and you need a minimum of 10 days to go through every inch of the place. The city was abandoned in the middle of the 15th century (I may be wrong with this) and lost its glory and charm. But the beauty remains intact and many countries including India has taken part in getting it reconstructed or rebuilt or rearranged.
It might take a couple of more decades to get this reconstruction completed and worldwide support is needed for that. One proud factor to be considered is “temple was built by a south Indian king” and he or his predecessors had established the Indianess here. The temple carries lots of South Indian architecture or style and does believe thousands of architects or sculptors would have moved here to create such a magnificent temple. Who knows and some of these migrants would have stayed back as well and the present population might carry some Indian genes in their blood. It’s not today we fight each other for our greed of power or land, it was the same in the past as well.
Buddhists and Hindus (through their kings) fought over this area for centuries and destroyed it many times. Temple reflects that and a standing Moorthy of Bhagwan Vishnu (with multiple arms) carries a Bhagwan Buddha head (the original head was cut and replaced with the current head) and you can see that clearly with your own eyes. Could have been a huge Hindu temple that later got converted into a Buddhist vihara and managed by the Buddhist monks currently. Every inch of the temple confirms that. Huge corridors, excellent carvings, and tall towers (gopura) and it take 3 hours just to witness the physical appearance. Think about the time you may need to spend to understand every aspect of the meaning behind each inch of the temple.
Stopping now with my experience about this temple and compel you to visit this temple once to see it yourself. Must visit place for all who loves history, architecture, and temples. We went to some more temples like Bayon temple (each tower is adorned with Bhagwan Brahma’s face and on all faces or sides of the tower) and the infamous Temple called Ta Prohm temple (Old Brahma temple). Ta Prohm was used by Angelina Jolie in her Tomb rider movie and you get to witness trees coming out of the temple walls or roof. Temple was abandoned for centuries and nature decided to take the place of human beings. Fortunately they haven’t cut down the trees on discovery (for a change by French and not British) of this place and left it as it is.
Temple with trees or trees with temple adds more colour to the old beauty and I loved the look and feel.Need to spend more time here and will visit with Sonal soon. Our tour got over around 5:30 pm and riding such beautiful roads (in the middle of dense forest and amongst such dilapidated structures made of sandstone or laterite stones) is really a great feeling. Every turn gives you a glimpse of some temple or some snake shaped walls. You can see Samudhra Mandhan or Adi Sehsa figures everywhere. Not going to debate whether it belongs to Hindus or Buddhist but firmly believe in the existence of Akanda Bharat in the past. Locals do follow Shivratri or Diwali and some of them carry Hindu names (our guides family name is Shiv) .
Difference in belief or philosophy can cause enormous damage and that’s not correct. We need to save such historical evidences and shouldn’t allow philosophical difference in destroying it. Got back to the room and went for a Khmer style massage. It’s not different and very much like the Thai body massage and I was disappointed. The massage I got at “Pai” was too good and I believe I was comparing that to this. Not correct comparison but the Pai massage was still better. Our tour guide told me about Indian food availability near our hotel and my tongue started watering. Haven’t had a good Indian food for the past 25 days and went to a place called Curry Walla run by a sardar. Had support staff from India and Bangladesh and conversed with them in Hindi and had great food for a change.
Tummy craving for Indian food has been taken care of finally and it can wait for 10 more days before getting another dose of Indian food. Need to leave early tomorrow and get out of Cambodia and get into Thailand (our re-entry visa was not done and it could take couple of hours to process). Reached back to the room for doing the operational tasks (transferring files, writing travelog and selecting pictures or videos to be shared ). Went to spend some time with Manish and Rohit and then with Khun Tom & Darun and finally found time to write this and select pictures. Not really sharing the entire feeling or experience (due to time constraint) but trying as much as I can and that includes the pictures and experiences.
Selecting few from the hundreds of pictures is really a tough task. Started this journey (mentally in April) and got physically involved later and now completed it. Half journey completed and my return journey or ride starts tomorrow. Long days ahead (its about covering distance from now onwards) and hope it would be limited to riding. “Not planning to write anything in detail from now and intend to share my well being with friends and family by way of communicating the distance traveled and the place I have reached on a daily basis” . You are part of that and please do track and will share any interesting stories or events that may happen during the rest of the return leg. Life is longer and more stories to be shared in the longer run and during future adventure trips.
Note : ° Those who are reading my travelogue using “Incredible India by Road – 2018 Facebook page”, please check out my Instagram account or Facebook personal profile for videos. ° Wi-Fi speed is not great (better than India and Myanmar) and I am not sending lots of videos and pictures. Will start a YouTube channel later and add the unseen ones to it.