Sunday, November 08, 2015

Temple Running (with slippers and a 60 year old)

That disclaimer needs to come first because the idea of temple running is often associated with the impossibility for someone older (like my mum in this case) and it's often so overwhelmed with the idea of being young, tough and rough, having the right kits and the right shoes (unless you're in a huge tour group). Whoever invented this image?

Well, we did it with me on slippers (although I must say, not recommended though) and mum joining in.

Of course we didn't do ALL the temples in the Angkor Wat Central, in fact we only chose 4 from the selection. We wanted to be very honest with ourselves, do we really want to do temple running THE WHOLE 4 DAYS?

No, we wanted to do other local things, eat, meet local people, tuk tuk around and basically enjoy Siem Reap as we honestly would. Also, it was very impractical for mum to painfully follow us temple running throughout the trip.

So in a day we went to;

1) Angkor Wat
2) Bayon Temple
3) Angkor Thom
4) Ta Phrom (the Tomb Raider temple)

We booked our tickets the day before, because everyone else was doing the same thing, and decided to catch the sunset from the highest peak of Phnom Bakheng. My mum joined us hike halfway through the hill but couldn't continue, so my sister and I ran towards the peak where we saw a million more people in front of us.

RIGHT. We decided we were gonna que like the good people that we are, and eventually reached the highest peak - when the sun was already down :( :( :(


I should have been disapointed, but there was something about hiking with the world's most beautiful sunset with your sister and the rush and the crap talk we had like while hiking up that made me the happiest. We took lots of photos of the panoramic view of Siem Reap, and took it all in, that we are .. in Siem Reap!!






Angkor Wat
The world comes to visit Siem Reap for this extraordinary beauty. Stood through times and weather and changing of people, the Angkor Wat Central is a complex of the most beautiful temples in the world dating back to the 12th Century. Built by King Suryavarman and Jayavarman continously, this temple was made fit for a prince (son).


What really surprised me was how tame she was as supposed to most of my friend's description of how gigantic and impossible she was. Maybe because we didn't have a guide with us.... to describe to us how magnificent she really is, or maybe because we don't know how exactly huge she really is, or maybe simply because we were still too sleepy from waking up at 4.30am, whatever it was, we were so at peace and calm and there was no sense of rush.



Bottomline was, we didn't overwhelmed ourselves with how to conquer Angkor Wat or exactly how one should explore this beauty, there was no strategy, we had so much fun seating at one corner catching the sunrise and eventually follow the flock of people into the temple. We took our time exploring the temple, while looking out for mum who had trouble walking up and down the stairs. We listened to stories from other tour guides, we greeted other tourists and took photos for keeps.



By the time we were ready to leave, we were "done". Not because we were done exploring Angkor Wat because, maybe one never will, but we were happy to be there. Sun was up, almost 3 hours later  we're ready to head to The Bayon.

The Bayon
I kept telling my sister this is the temple that looks like the Temple Running in Nickelodeon, like GOT FACES!! GOT FACES!!

Simple minds like me, that's how I remember Bayon by. 

And true enough, I learned that these intricate carvings of these were of stone faces carvings which were dedicated to Buddha, and eventually some of the local deities and heroes of the time.

By the time we neared the Bayon Complex, people stopped at the entrance to take photos of these crazy beautiful architecture. Seriously, this is magical! Again, by now my sister and I were already running around looking at these magical architectures, wander at them in awe, while mum comfortably busy chatting away with a boy aptly named Boy, our tuk tuk driver.


One of the best breakfast we've had in Siem Reap was at the Bayon Complex nearing to the Angkor Thom stretch. This is a tourist dent, and every other tuk tuk driver would bring their guests to this stretch. Which was fine by me, I am practical, I needed breakfast and they gave me breakfast! Price was affordable enough, I was happy. I kept preaching about the MAMA Noodles to my sister and mum (when it's really just instant noodle) they eventually got one each while I devoured fried rice.

Food makes me so happy.


Jessy and I did most exploration in the Bayon. We literally went in and out of temple doors, hiked different stairs and reach different sections, and stumbled upon different but same tourists every now and then. We found secret corners, eavesdrop to other people's tour guides, took a million photos of secret corners, got stopped by guards, got lost in the flock of tourists.  By the time we were done, we were beat, and it was just so much fun.

I never felt so happy exploring different sides of the temples like that before.




I was happy exploring Borobudur alone in Jakarta, but this was another kind of happy exploring with a company, my little sister. I kept thinking to myself -- I've always wondered whether this day would come (traveling with my little sister), and now when it does, it's all inch perfect.

Angkor Thom Stretch 
Mum joined us halfway through after Bayon but couldn't continue because it was just too hot and her legs were giving way. Jessy and I continued through, but going through temple running in slippers WAS NOT (like I said) a recommended idea (although the point was to tell you that I did it). I tripped, and slipped so many times that it wasn't funny anymore. The fact that the whole stretch was an uneven stretch of rocks and stones, made the walk even tougher. And it was a long walk.

It was such a good morning workout.

Like all the temples I explored with my sister, I felt no pain, no (not much) heat hiking with my sister next to me. Maybe it's the stupid things we talked about or maybe it's just having a company, but the walk became fun, if anything else. We laughed at mum (hahahah.. we always do), we laugh about our adorable tuk tuk driver, Boy, we laughed about picking up the Cambodian slang, we argued about the temples, conversation was endless. It was just so much fun!

I really thought it was good bonding time with sister.

Ta Phrom
And last but not least, is the beautiful Ta Phrom. She was particularly so beautiful because of the living breathing chemistry she has with the barks of trees surrounding and living together with her. My sister describes the relationship they have with their holy places is that they actually try to live in one with the nature, as opposed to most on clearing the nature to make way for the holy places (or developments >:( ) I think that's on fleek with I thought too.

And the story was, the gifted this beautiful temple to his mum :)


At one point I just stood there and think to myself, are these even real?

We ended the day just before evening and decided that we could use A SWIM, which was why I choose a villa with a pool !!

So we swam the evening away -- enough to cool myself and Jessy down for the night :))))



SO AWESOME.

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

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