Angkor Wat. Yeah, it’s a wonder of the ancient world. It’s huge. It’s beautiful. It’s real great. So wat?
If you really care, or want to look at some pretty photos of it, look it up on half a million other blogs (which probably all stole our neat puns!).
Don’t get us wrong, over three days cycling around the towering pyramids and clambering through hieroglyphic-inscribed rock labyrinths, we were certainly moved: in the bowel region by our daily breakfast choice, quickly on our way by eardrum-devastating cicadas and Cambodian fruit vendors, and to guilt-soaked tears by orchestras of sporadically-limbed survivors of landmines left over from President Nixon‘s not-all-that-secret 2,756,941-ton bomb dump on Cambodia.
Here are those and a few other of our multimedia-conveyed highlights — the possessiveness of “our” now pertaining to a threesome, since all-American, volunteer fireman and stud Logan McCoy decided to hop on the Bitter Smelly Boy Train.
- Street breakfast: $1.50 US / 6100 KHR
- Praying to whoever will listen that you won’t have to sneak behind a giant Buddha head with a banana peel, all day for three days: Priceless.
We don’t have these things back home in California. Which is terrific, considering they’re awful. Although we could never spot one, around every corner we heard what sounded like ten thousand of them viciously swarming into each of our six collective ears. No wonder the ancient Khmers got the hell out.
But! You don’t have to take OUR word for it (ba-da-BUM!); turn your speakers up to 11 and click below.
The cicadas’ aural onslaught was excruciating enough. However, as Cambodia has learned, the only living thing on Earth truly capable of being inhumane is Man. Or, to your ears at Angkor Wat, Woman. Especially the fruit-vending variety.
Any time we’d swing remotely close to one, she’d sound the call, giving us about five seconds to pedal off, lest we be surrounded by smiling little ladies blocking all signs of escape with their wide-brimmed hats and sweeping us to agony in an earsplitting avalanche of astronomically upper-registered, mostly citrus-related offers. On our last day, just for fun, we spotted a gaggle of them, produced the recorder, plugged our ears and cycled into the fray.
The man-touts peddled not succulent tree fruit but rather cowbells and weird bamboo Jew’s Harp type instruments. Accompanied by the drone of the cicadas, they sound like something we would have played on our respective college radio shows — which is to say, like nothing really.
Cambodian Amputee Orchestras
But if our thing happened to be ethnomusicology — or amputee fetishism — we’d come to the the right UNESCO World Heritage Site, for amputee orchestras did abound. Evidently, when a present-day Cambodian takes a leisurely stroll through the countryside, or simply walks by his house, he has an above-average chance of trodding upon an unexploded ordnance, often either a mine planted by the Khmer Rouge or one that sneakily managed to fall out of an American plane some time between 18 March 1969 and 26 May 1970, then waking up either much lighter than he was before or not at all.
For those who’ve realized a life of begging really blows, there’s another road: playing traditional Cambodian music — on xylophones, stringed instruments, tree leaves and more — to tourists at Angkor Wat. When we heard it, we’d usually stop for a bit. Both because it sounded pretty cool and so we didn’t feel like assholes.
This being a UNESCO-managed site, Angkor Wat’s countless temples, stone structures and other attractions are well marked with explanatory signs in English. Additionally, this being Asia, they are of course all phrased and spelled as ridiculously as possible. After much experimentation, we determined they sound silliest when read aloud in a bad Texas drawl.
Logan Tuk-Tuks it Back
There’s no way around it: tuk-tuk guys are annoying. “You want tuk-tuk?” they will slow up next to you and ceaselessly demand to know. No thank you, you reply. “Ok, tuk-tuk?” No, I’m walking, but thank you. “Yes! Tuk-tuk?” No! “But you need tuk-tuk.” Look, I’m on a bicycle, dickhead!” “Ok ok. The you waaaaan… tuk–?” FUCK OFF.
Or something like that.
Thus, tired at the end of our long days of riding shitty bikes and dealing with loud, annoying sounds, we felt both glad — and entitled — to sprint up alongside one, grab a hold and skitch the few kilometers back to town.
And when one tuk-tuk driver suddenly challenged Logan McCoy to an arm wrasslin’, we had more than our money riding on our boy. Obviously, despite some backwards Eastern wrist-to-wrist methodology, being a stalwart American stud, he won. Twice! Probably we could’ve got a free tuk-tuk ride out of it, but since we forgot to bet anything beforehand, the world may never know.
Alright, fine. Here are a couple…