In the jungles of Cambodia, there is a temple complex that is the epitome of (in fact, probably the inspiration of) every Indiana Jones-type fantasy we've ever had.
Shrouded in mystery and danger; rich with history; ripe with treasures:
Death, Destruction, and War have been near-constant guests in Cambodia for the past 25 to 30 years, making Angkor Wat a risky venture for the average tourist.
Like the beckoning hand of a graceful Khmer dancer, Cambodia has been calling me to visit for a number of years.
However, the destructive political instability has prevented us from actually making the journey - until recently.
In late 1997 and early 1998, things have settled down quite a bit - though the US government still recommends against a visit, because no one knows how long the quiet will last.
|We'd been monitoring the situation for awhile, though, and decided the
time was right for a quick weekend tour of Siem Reap and the nearby temples.
While the area was pretty quiet during our visit, and we had no problems at all, there were visual reminders of the dangers of Cambodia.
Like the sight of men who still search for unexploded land mines (some say 10 million
remain in the Cambodian landscape).
Once you are in the temples, however, it's easy to forget about the problems of recent years, because you are immediately transported back to the 12th century.
There are dozens of these temples, situated 7 kilometers north of Siem Reap.
||Each site is stunning for its' architectural design, thought-provoking for
its' religious connotations, spectacular in its' carved detail, and steeped in mystery and
One event during our visit contributed, in a small way, to the enduring legend of Angkor Wat.
We were walking through the main courtyard, where tall steep staircases lead to the
He laid there, with one leg twitching towards the sky. Eventually, the motion stopped, with the paw still grasping at air.
|A guard walked over, grabbed the dog by the leg, and threw the limp body
into a corner.
We shook our heads at this graphic display of unsure footing, and slowly climbed to the top. After twenty minutes of viewing the tower, we came to the staircase from which the dog had fallen.
We looked down to see a dog sitting in the corner. The guard shouted to Chiven
Chiven turned and said, "That is the dog. He's better now."
I laughed and told Chiven that the guard was pulling his leg. That dog was clearly dead. This was a different dog.
Chiven called down to the guard and then turned to me,
"No. This is the dog that fell. The guard tried to clean the blood away from the dead
dog, but the water woke up the dog. This is the same one."
When we finished, I told Chiven I wanted to see the dog. He thought I was joking, but I
He could't walk well, but his walk was not the walk of a dog that had a broken back, or
a broken leg, or even serious internal damage.
A nun came up to Chiven and started speaking to him.
Kevin and I looked at the dog, looked at the stairs, looked at the nun, and slowly
shook our heads.
Continue to Angkor Wat 2