Cambodia Day 4: of sandstone, sunrise and sculpture

Today I’m going to shut up and let the images take over for a while.

Okay, this is a tourist must and a 4.30 alarm call isn’t everyone’s cuppa. And if I was being really churlish I’d say it’s a shame the sun stayed away because apparently the fiery glow on the towers is something to behold. But watching the sunrise across the tank – a rather utilitarian name for a lake – was a treat. Reminds me of a less successful sunrise at Uluru. I must tell you sometime.

You see how close is the jungle?

This is Angkor Vat. It is unique. And visually stunning. When the French colonised this part of Asia in the mid nineteenth century and brought with them power and money and time, this amongst other temples was dragged out of the rapacious jungle.

Like all of the temples in Cambodia they have a chequered history flipping between Hinduism and Buddhism. This was built by a King who reckoned that Vishnu was the God of Gods so dedicated Vat to him.

Then came the Buddhist take over and as is their way they mostly left the structure alone , save that Vishnu’s statue was moved from the highest tower to what goes for a lobby.

Like putting your Old Master in the downstairs loo, I suppose.

One reason this place is so spectacular  is its  moat. It works and always has. Whereas most other temples lost their moats in the fallow years Angkor Vat kept its.

And in keeping it it kept the moisture in the sand foundations that are needed for the stability of these giant legoesque constructions.

While others were undermined from below and above this managed to keep itself intact. Glory be to that. More pictures.

Is it me or does this look like some mythical bird masquerading as a tree?

We climbed to the top. Boy do they like steep stars hereabouts. As I queued to abseil down – ok, not quite but I’ve abseiled down shallower slopes than these – a chap my age – youngish – came up behind me, limping and using a stick. He was eyeing the descent with understandable trepidation.

As always when a – to me – witty line pops into my head I say it. ‘Temple knee is it?’

He grimaced. ‘My inner 25 year old. I tried to jump on the bus and missed.’

So easily done. Poor fellow. Someone after my own heart though. I was contemplating my good fortune when guesting with the Siem Reap Massive on their motorbikes yesterday in leaving with only buttock cramps and his failure to emulate superman when I reached the bottom. I turned to wait; I could at least congratulate him on his effort but he was 2 steps from the top, clearly not moving and looked like he’d already been covered in lichen. The jungle moves quickly hereabouts.

We left with smiles on our faces.

Temple 2 was a total contrast, a small compact structure in the midst of paddy fields.

This is  Banteay  Srei, the woman’s temple and famous for the richness of the red sandstone they used and the delicacy of the carving which so tradition has it must have been carved by women so delicate are they.

More pictures please.

We were on a bit of high hereabouts. We had had some fun.

but boy did we drop to earth. Our next stop was a land mine museum and I find this difficult to process. All in all, and given we are off to Phnom Penh next I’ll save my thoughts until we’ve been there. I know it will be harrowing.

Here is part two of my story triggered by this picture.

Lotus Flower and the Seven Otters

Part 2

Stinky was the first to go to Lotus Flower. ‘What is it you seek?’ She asked?
‘Well, look, I know you cover the smell in the holt, and I’m grateful that everyone isn’t moaning as they once did but as soon as I’m away from here, people draw away from me. I’ll never meet a lady otter if I don’t stop the smells.’
She nodded and shook some seeds into his paw. ‘Take two, twice a day with food. Be careful to make sure you eat. And always read the small print for other possible side effects.’
‘Such as?’
‘Do you want to stop smelling?’
‘Of course.’
‘Then let’s skip that bit.’
Soon enough the success of Lotus Flower’s prescription became the talk of the brothers. Next up it was Oily. ‘Look, the thing is, that is to say, looking at things in the round…’
‘Too Sticky for Chicks?’
‘Bout it, yes.’
She dusted him with pollen. ‘Rub that in, twice a week and don’t shower after.’
‘I don’t shower. I’m an otter.’
‘Maybe you could start?’
‘Noted. Side effects?’
‘Nothing worse than what you have.’
Oily went away, not entirely convinced until three nights later when Squinty from a holt three down on the river bank spotted him in the bar. ‘Oily Sleek what’s happened to you? You’re, godammit you’re fluffy. Quite the otter about town. What’s the secret?’
Oily smiled coyly. He’d had a crush on Squinty for years, despite never being sure who she was looking at half the time. ‘I can’t say.’ He said it sotto voce but clearly implied he would, if pressed.
‘Come on. Let’s have a swift cod beer and you can tell me all about it.’
Night Owl followed (crushed seed pods burnt at night meant he slept when he was expected to and awoke fresh to see the dawn for the first time in years), then Fishy (ingested two crushed leaves and his appetite went) and finally Nipper (a dried seedpod covered with pollen and held in the teeth twice daily for 30 minutes and his random and uncontrolled biting stopped instantly).
Colin asked how things were going. ‘Fine, though Slick has been avoiding me ever since I made my offer.’
‘I’ll have a word.’ Colin found his brother by the pool. As usual he was adjusting his fur so its patina was just the right side of glossy. ‘You’ve not been to Lotus Flower.’
‘Why would I? I don’t need help.’
‘Don’t you? All the girls go ga-ga when they see you yet you cut them dead. Don’t you want a girlfriend?’
By way of a reply, Slick backcombed his tail and dived to the lowest part of the pool.
Colin went back to Lotus Flower. ‘Nope. He’s hopeless.’ He told her of Slick’s reaction. She smiled. ‘Just drag him here and leave me with him for ten minutes.’
Colin explained what Lotus Flower had said. His brothers all thought her magical, which of course she was – I mean a Flower that talks? Give me some credit. They pounced on him and dragged him to her presence and then guarded the exit. Ten minutes later he emerged with a new swagger and… ‘Are they red lips?’ ‘And blue eyes?’
Before he could answer, Lotus Flower said, ‘It’s the least a girl can do for her gay bessie.’
The brothers looked from one to the other, stunned. Oily spoke first. ‘But we know he’s gay.’
Slick and Lotus Flower spoke as one. ‘You do?’
‘Course. It’s just Slick that never says. We assumed he wanted to try, you know, the other way.’
Lotus Flower shook her main blossom. ‘Typical boys. Why don’t you talk to each other?’
She began to laugh and then all did which was all fine and dandy except this is the time when we find out that Oily did spill the beans to Squinty who told her father who was a bit of a wassock so he told someone else and, well, word travels. And as they were all having their fun, the front door of the holt was smashed to bits and in waddled the Burgermeister and some of his elite troops. Of course it is only in fairyland that a man the size of an asteroid can walk into a otter holt but let’s pass that one.
‘Ho, so this is where she’s been hiding, is it?’ the Grand (as in as large as a concert piano) Vizier boomed. ‘I think we will just take her and then you chaps can see me after in my study.’
Everyone had frozen. All except Colin who stepped forward. ‘Um, Your Bigness, a word? It will be worth it.’
The others watched, amazed as Colin ushered the Burgermeister into Lotus Flower’s room and shut the door. Half an hour later the door opened and Colin appeared with the Burgermeister’s arm round his shoulders. They shook hand-paw and then his Vastness left, with his rather disappointed crack team following.
‘What did you do?’
Colin took a moment. ‘Lotus Flower hasn’t been able to pollinate so I went and found another Lotus and bought some of his male pollen and brought it back. I’ve been growing baby Lotus Flowers in the back garden. Next to the sprouts. I suggested that, rather than destroy Lotus Flower he grows his own. That way he can keep the Princesses happy and the people.’
‘What about.. you know? The Wicked Florist.’
‘Basically she’s history; at least if the Burgermeister controls the means of production. He’s a socialist at heart. We agreed to him having an exclusive licence on pollen less 5% for our own use and not for resale. In return I’ll provide the male pollen – I’ve already signed up the bloke – and Lotus will provide hers if the Big Boy keeps his word. There are all sorts of medicinal spinoffs as well as cosmetics..’
‘And she’s okay with that? I mean, it’ll be like giving away her babies, won’t it?’
A voice carried from the next room. ‘I’m a bloody plant. Plants aren’t maternal. If giving away a bit of dust helps us all, then it’s fine by me.’
Everyone cheered. As you do at the end of a fairytale because we’ve moved beyond Brothers Grimm and sad endings don’t cut it with Disney if you want them to buy the script rights.
And Colin? What did he want from Lotus Flower? Well he’d already got it. A proper otter name. Rather than Colin. I’m mean that’s not a name for an otter, is it? And that name? You’ll have to wait for the sequel.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in cambodia, creative writing, family, miscellany, short story, thought, travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Cambodia Day 4: of sandstone, sunrise and sculpture

  1. willowdot21 says:

    It all looks amazing.


  2. Ritu says:

    Stunning photos and loved the conclusion to the story His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Erika Kind says:

    This is so impressive! What treasures we have in this world!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your photos did (most of) the talking, pretty amazing lead in to your story. Wonderful capture.

    I really like the idea of moving your old master downstairs..interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary Smith says:

    Wonderful photos, Geoff. And that tree does look like a bird – or is it a mythical bird masquerading as a tree?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stunning phootos Geoff, especially the first image of the sunrise.
    I do love your otter fairy tale too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JT Twissel says:

    Beautiful pictures! I once got up at 4 am to see the sun rise over Haleakala only to find the top of the volcano totally fogged in! I would have been okay but the pre-teens we dragged out of bed were mighty grumpy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Isn’t it all so amazing and so beautiful and so not understood by Westerners. Your photos are a wonderful treat! Can I tell you how glad I am that Colin will get a proper Otter name? And how glad it’s wasn’t me visiting a land mine museum – I don’t think I could bear to see the results of those things up close and personal.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very much like the little women’s temple, lovely photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mick Canning says:

    Absolutely super photos, Geoff. And yes, I saw the mythical bird even before I read your caption.

    And loved the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve been following your adventures on Facebook and it looks absolutely incredible Geoffle! Beautiful pictures too!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. noelleg44 says:

    What a unique, special place and your photos are spectacular. Thanks for the tour. With the jungle so close, the Thai people must have to work hard to keep it from taking over…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Eileen says:

    I love the detail in your photos. And the cool views through door openings. My son sent me quite a few photos, but mostly just large aspects. I forgive him, because he went there on a bus with high school students from the Orphanage school where he teaches near Phenom Phen. He was probably doing well to get any photos at all, while keeping track of his charges. 🙂 Hmmm. Would a proper name for an otter be OTTO?

    Liked by 1 person

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