I went to AW with my parents just after my mission. I don't remember much about it actually (that post-mission blur really was a...blur).
Angkor Wat is enormous. A stunning emblem of an ancient civilization. It's often considered to be added to one of those Wonders of the World lists. It has given Cambodia something grand to be proud of. A hefty million or more tourists agree and come in droves every year to see this semi-untouched relic of a civilization way ahead of its time (allegedly destroyed by over-expansion and exploitation of resources.)
Droves that came on my dayIt also was a symbol of the Pol Pot regime- he was obsessed with working backwards towards some agrarian collective ideal that Khmer in the time of Angkor's prime had perfected. That's why the Khmer Rouge killed (like mass genocide killed) all the intellectuals and forced everyone remaining to work out in the fields (malnourished and abused no less).
Today, Angkor Wat is a brighter symbol. Tourists (more Chinese than I've ever seen, in an oddly consistent uniform of a light, long-sleeved button-up shirt and umbrella or silly wicker hats/visors) employ a frenzy of sales and support jobs. Adorably sneaky (and fabulous...or dirty..) children sell postcards and magnets. Siem Reap (the city closest to AW) is an island of commerce in a comparatively slow countryside.
So we did Angkor Wat. Bigger, longer, hotter. We made our way with a timid Welshman who we coaxed out of his shell with a lot of Michael Jackson songs and jumping pictures.
I became strangely obsessed with stomping my dirty feet all over piles of rubble
This looks like a Mark Knudson job of keeping the ruins together. Sure, wood pillars will keep the 500 pound slabs of granite from falling! The clean-up crew also seems to be cleaning like I do when my mom comes to town (out of sight, out of mind)
Jumping pictures quickly get out of control (mostly faces). No one else seems to get how AWESOME it is that I POINT MY TOES without even thinking about it (see zoomed, beautiful leg, right). Ali, my drunken gymnastics coach from high school would be SO PROUD!
Little Otik flashback. This tree is TAKING OVER
How adorable am I, really?