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The Adventures of a Canuck and Her Backpack

Captivatingly Spectacular Siem Reap

CAMBODIA | Thursday, 26 May 2011 | Views [618]

Siem Reap has captivated me. I had a feeling it would, after all “OMG, I LOVED it there!” was a common response when I told other travelers where I was going. I can’t even tell you how long this quiet city has been on my MUST SEE list. I’m a sucker for a place with a tumultuous past after all. Now I know what you’re thinking, don’t all places have tumultuous pasts? I suppose in one way or another they do but not all places have seen just how evil human beings are capable of being. Cambodia is a country of phoenix’s, spirits rising from the ashes of despair to rebuild the lives they want for themselves. Some people at home are incapable of that following a bad report card or dentist visit, geez I dwell on the news of a cavity like it’s the end of the world then after think “Oh woe is me I have to get a little needle and sit in the dentist chair for an hour boooowhooo.” Pathetic!
Anyway back to the fabulous place that is Siem Reap and away from the dentist office. If I could wrap this place up and give it as a gift I would. I’d bundle it in banana leaves tied with the ancient vines that curl possessively around the crumbling stone of the Angkor temples and garnish it with the mango that narrowly missed my head as it fell from the tree at my guesthouse. But whom would I give it to? Perhaps the friend that needs to be cheered up by the smiling faces of those who are happy you stopped by. Or the friend that seeks adventure by searching ancient ruins for tangerine clad monks. No, no, maybe the friend that wants to be pampered while surrounded by quiet sophistication. Although maybe I’ll just keep it for myself and use the banana leaves to steam some fish amok, let the vines continue their support of the temples and make a shake with that mango!
The temples of Angkor Wat are beautiful, mysterious, eerie and awe-inspiring. There were times I forget that it was 2011 and was practically transported back to the 12th century. Honestly there was one time I looked down at my camera and thought “What the HELL is this thing?” Luckily some old Chinese woman pushed me out of her way and brought me jarringly back to reality. There are huge trees that grow effortlessly around stone structures, their branches and roots twisting and turning acrobatically through cracks and glassless windows. Children run after you asking you to buy bracelets and postcards or rather aggressively suggest you give them candy while counting to 10 in 7 languages. They’re pretty receptive to the words no and thank-you though so they get an A+ for “getting it!” And while we didn’t find monks meditating in any nooks and crannies we did get to witness a mass almsgiving ceremony with about 700 monks taking part. There was orange everywhere I looked and I LOVED IT!
You know a place is great if you’re reminiscing about it while you’re still there! It is so great that it immediately buries itself in your heart and refuses to leave. Like a parasite or an infection… if those things made people happy when they caught them! And even though our guesthouse owner calls me Morgan and it's hotter than inside a dutch oven I’ve caught Siemreaperson and I’m loving every second of it!

Tags: angkor wat, buddhism, cambodia, love, monks, siem reap

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