Monday, December 13, 2010

Still Angkor

North Kleang
I'm reworking my map of Angkor Thom and spent the whole day in the central Angkor Thom area, mostly in the Royal Palace enclosure (around Phimeanakas,) walking the walls through the jungle and marking obscure little prasats and half-buried pools. Ya know, for the millions tourists that visit Angkor every year, and the thousands that were probably there today, one only need walk a few steps off the guidebook trail to be completely alone. I worked the back of the palace area 150 meters from a well-touristed major temple for three hours and didn't see a soul. Later, for much of the afternoon I wandered the Preah Pithu Group and the Kleangs exploring a bit and taking photos, then sat reading and smoking at the back just 100 meters off the road, and it could have been 1994 for all the tourists I saw. Nary a sign of them save the occasional sound of passing tuk-tuks and tourist buses blowing in on the wind. People complain endlessly these days of the crowds and spoiled ambiance at Angkor, and more than one travel writer has moaned, 'there’s no escaping the crowds.'  Yet that lost Angkor lays hidden but a few meters off the path, still easily found if they could only get themselves to leave the path.

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