Grand Palace in Bangkok? Overblown.

One of the first things I did when I studied abroad at Thammasat University was visit the Grand Palace, or Phra Boromma Maha Ratcha Wang, in Bangkok.

So why haven’t I written about it until now?

I just wasn’t that impressed.

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Wat Maha That in Ayutthaya, Thailand

“Ok guys, go over and stand in front of the ruin.”

“Perfect, hold it, hold iiiiit,” I drew out the final word as my friends shuffled into position before the remains of the ancient Kingdom of Ayutthaya.

“Now be happy conquerors.”

The three Burmese before me broke into beaming grins and waved behind them.

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Nan, Nan, Thailand

Where were we? We weren’t sure, but something about a waterfall.

“The sign says the temple is this way,” shouted my Japanese friend pointing up a paved, steep winding road.

“Let’s go then,” was my response as I twisted the throttle and tapped the motorbike into gear.

We pulled ourselves to the top, but no peaked roof peaked through the trees, no paths lead to a temple entrance. We continued down the road and found ourselves looping right back to the entrance.

So we changed our objective.

“The sign says the market is this way,” my Japanese friend once more pointed the way.

“The sign says the waterfall is down that way.”

“The woman said we should go that way to find the waterfall.”

Before we knew it the road had faded into a dirt track.

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Angkor Complex, Cambodia (by bicycle)

Angkor, Angkor show me your wonders true,

I’m half crazy over the likes of you

It won’t be a speedy viewing

I can’t afford a tuk tuk

But you look sweet, from upon the seat of a bicycle borrowed for 2

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Angkor Complex, Cambodia

“One dollar, one dollar. Two magnets, one dollar. Ok, ten postcards one dollar. One dollar. One dollar. One dollar.”

The child looked up at me, her eyes wide and glimmering. Shuffling the objects in the plastic tray slung across her stomach she pulled up one item after another and repeated the mantra.

“One dollar, one dollar, one dollar. Lady, maybe later? One dollar.”

She looked hopeful, her eyes sparkling with calculations but a tired strain fed into her voice. I could only smile at her. I didn’t want to be rude but I wouldn’t be buying anything.

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Bayon Temple, Cambodia

Down in the labyrinth, beyond the soaring light, I found a place of contemplation. Dust particles danced on the one weak shaft of light that managed to pierce its way through. Settled in the nook of a once-window-in-the-wall or perhaps once-home-for-a-Buddha I looked across the small sheltered courtyard. This place at the centre of everything felt right. Far above me, in the heat of the afternoon amused entities observed the tourist traffic at the foot of their towers—their eyes ever open to the world, their lips cast in chuckles and half-smirks. Continue reading “Bayon Temple, Cambodia”

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

By the feeble light of our phone flashes we trudged on. It was pitch black. I hadn’t experienced that kind of darkness in a long time. It engulfed everything and seemed to eat at the little light we had at our disposal.

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