Oh yes, Angkor Wat and the the Cambodian temples – a bucket list favorite and truly outstanding, if you love ruins. From a distance their enormity and grandeur awed and humbled us as we realized what the toil of thousands of workers had produced. But seriously folks, once inside the huge blocks of stone and surrounded by countless depictions of gods, warriors and dancing girls the excess of it all melds together.
To the uninitiated, one interior is like another as they trudge across vast anterooms and then face stairs up to the towers, stairs down to the gardens, stairs up to the gates, stairs down to the pool and stairs up to the main stairs. At every point, the eyes are inundated with imposing statues, elaborate columns and enormous carved panels depicting battles, rituals and kings all with names having six to10 syllables which were reverently intoned by our guide. He had learned it all by rote and happily rattled on (and on) listing everyone’s pedigree and claim to fame.
Also included were minute details regarding the hero’s inevitable companion – usually a lion, three-headed elephant, monkey or bullfrog. Our heads aching and reeling from the mostly incomprehensible verbal deluge, but so grateful for the finale, we gushed our thanks and tipped him hugely before trekking half a mile to our tuk-tuk and hurdling on to the next massive dilapidation whose rooms, towers and corridors duplicated what we just left, including the stairs.