Once upon a time, Sandy and Sarah were two unmarried kids who’d never been to Cambodia and played with baboons. Now, none of these things are true.
We don’t have a cameraphone shot of the baboons, because, holy shit, here we were just inches away from the cutest batch of baboons you’d ever seen. We had just left the majestic palace of Angkor Wat, arguably one of the most wonderous places on earth, when our guide off-handedly asked if we wanted to see the monkeys, which came down from the trees at this time of day. Angkor What? We had monkeys to see. Suddenly we were feeding bananas to baby baboons, hopping around from branch to branch, squeaking with joy (the baboons, not us, though we just about could). New rule: every vacation from here on out is required to have some monkey time.
Oh yeah, the temples. Really are as stunning as we were lead to believe. They say Angkor Wat took took several hundred thousand men 40 years to build and another 70 after that to carve out all the details. That’s what, three generations? And these were workers standing upright (they’d lay the bricks first, then make the carvings across the entire wall), using eleventh century tools. We later visited an artisan shop where modern-day carvers had the luxury of a workbench and machine-crafted picks and hammers, and it still took them months to finish one panel. As our guide liked to say: simple unbelievable.
I wish I had more time right now to tell the Ladies and the Gentlemens about our guide, Sohpear, whose knack for snort-worthy neologisms was simple remarkable, but I don’t. We’re in the Bangkok train station, about to board an overnight train down to Surat Thani, where we start phase three of the trip: Tropical Adventure. We’ve just met Hannah and Grant, the Australian couple who are doing the tour with us and who we’ll be getting to know really well over the coming five days, and we’re relieved to find that they are as pleasant as punch, with delightful Austrailian accents to boot. I expect to learn a lot about them, and Australia, on this trip, if only to get to hear them speak.
Here’s a parting shot, from lunch today — our last meal in Bangkok. This well sums up our trip so far: hot noodle soup, overwhelming heat, Scrabble, and big smiles.