The Temples of Angkor and a House Party – Day 2

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On New Years Day, I spent the morning going back to the temples – this time, to the famous “lady temple” of Bantrey Sray. I found out that it’s not really a temple honoring women – after all, it has a huge linga (phallic symbol) at the heart of the temple – but because they named it the “temple of beauty”, they nicknamed it the lady temple.

It’s one of the smallest and prettiest temples that I’ve seen on this trip. The type of pink sandstone that was used to make the temple helped the building stay strong and resist the elements, leaving the incredibly detailed relief carvings on the walls of the temple in perfect shape.

One of the main reasons why Cambodia is such a dope country is that the folks out here are incredibly nice and kind-hearted. One of the security guards offered to take photos of the details and the insides of the temple for me (since tourists can’t go in there). While I knew he was doing it to get tips, he was really sweet about helping people. Another one of the temples doesn’t allow visitors to enter without being “properly clothed” – which almost prevented me from going inside – until the lady working the entrance loaned me her tiny pink sweatshirt to me to wear over my shoulders. I was in awe of the fact that someone would bother to let some strange tourist borrow her own clothing to visit a cultural site. I couldn’t thank her enough.

As I was visiting one of the last temples of the day, a young man approached me and told me, “Hey, if you’d like to get a good picture of the temples, go over there”. He pointed me to the side where I went and snapped a few shots. He then pointed me in the direction of some other good “photo opportunity” spots and took me to one area where I could go to the roof of the temples to take a shot of the entire area. My makeshift tour guide then took me throughout parts of the rest of the building, telling me about the sandstone used to make the temple, the king who built the temple, and how they put rubies and other gemstones into the holes in the main building when it was being used. I was impressed by his maturity – he wasn’t trying to push me to talk to him, and he was really sweet about the whole thing. I tipped him and thanked him for being really good at what he does.

(On a side note – Can I just say how adorable the young Cambodian men are out here? They look like LA hispster kids with their tight jeans, buttoned-up patterned dress shirts, and black designer sports caps. They’re also like pencil-thin kids. So fcking stylish.)

* * * * *

At night, Try invited me to his friend’s house warming party that was happening that night, so I got slightly dressed up (wore jeans and a shirt instead of shorts and a tank) and rode on the back of his motorbike to the outdoor party.

When we got to the house, we were greeted immediately by the enthusiastic and inebriated hostess, who guided us to her yard where they were hosting the party. We were seated at a table with another group of men and were given some small Cambodian dishes to eat (yum), as well as unlimited beer and drinks. Try says that Cambodian people like to drink – not on a regular basis, but when it comes to celebrations, it gets pretty festive. I kept wondering why Try would say “Cheers” every few minutes, but everyone does that here – I think it’s just what Cambodian folks do to get each other drink more often and get piss drunk. Besides that, people are constantly pouring beer into your glass and switching out your can so that you suddenly have newer, fuller cans of beer all the time. Needless to say, with little food on the table and tons of alcohol being thrown my way, I got pretty faded pretty quickly.

Apparently, the kids are trained at a young age to give out beer and collect the empty cans that people throw under the tables, so from time to time small kids as young as 3 or 4 years old would come up to the tables to gather empty cans and give more drinks to the guests.

The night was basically filled with a lot of drinking, some eating, and some dancing to reggaeton and Cambodian music with Try and the hostess…as well as thwarting occasional advances from some old guy at the party. While he did manage to grab me a few times,  I managed to pull away politely. Try apologized for his behavior but it wasn’t a big deal.

One thing that’s been dope about my time in Cambodia is the fact that through Try, I’ve been able to get a very real first-hand glimpse of the country, and have gotten to know the people on a more personal (non-touristy) basis, which has been great. Without the fake and pseudo-glitzy tours, I’ve been able to know more about what life, history, politics, and culture is really like out here.

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Posted: January 15, 2012

Author: Tiffany

Category: Asia, Blog, Cambodia

Tags: , , ,

+1 Comment
  1. Joann says:

    Good blogging!

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