Given the scores of camera-toting tourists lined up at the artificial lake in front of Angkor Wat waiting for the requisite dawn or dusk money shot, it continues to be a global tourism drawcard.
[caption id="attachment_2168" align="alignnone" width="448"] Angkor Wat in late morning sunlight.[/caption] Other temples such as Angkor Thom and Bayon attract similar sized crowds.
In the late 1960s, great swathes of countryside were fire-bombed, whole towns were reduced to rubble.
During the 1970s, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge murdered some three million people.
[caption id="attachment_2184" align="alignnone" width="336"] Strangler fig tree at Ta Prohm.[/caption] Gigantic fig vines twist around ancient stones recreating an alluring film set atmosphere.
In short, I’m not appreciating what I should be appreciating and need a break. [caption id="attachment_2181" align="alignnone" width="336"] Angkor Wat complex gateway arch.[/caption] Prepared for a week’s touring around Siem Reap to focus on Angkor Wat and to sample some of Cambodia’s intriguing cuisine, I am fortunate instead to be allowed a glimpse into present day realities, a privilege granted by the Hotel de la Paix.
I could have stayed at any one of numerous hotels in Siem Reap, the pickings are ripe.
[caption id="attachment_2187" align="alignnone" width="262"] Guide with Apsara statues at Angkor Wat.[/caption] Landmines scattered around this area have only recently been removed with the help of a German aid organisation.
[caption id="attachment_2179" align="alignnone" width="407"] Landmine clearing sign.[/caption] Carried away again by the tomb raiding atmosphere, I completely forget that it’s a jungle out here. [caption id="attachment_2170" align="alignnone" width="448"] Beng Melea is far from Angkor Wat's madding crowds.[/caption] At Bantey Srey, a lovely pink-hued sandstone temple, known also as the ‘Citadel of the Women’ for its delicately carved inlays of village women, we are also alone.