A Travellerspoint blog

June 2015

An Astrologers day at Ankor Wat

Siam Reap Cambodia

sunny 30 °C
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The Cambodia Angkor Air flight landed at Siem Reap airport around midnight from Manila. The airport, 7 km from the city, was small but well maintained. I availed of the Visa on Arrival facility and walked over to the immigration officer.
  “This visa permits me to stay for only 15 days but I might like to stay longer. Couldn’t you extend my visa to one month?” I said making the unmistakable sign that I was ready to pay, whatever the so-called “fee.” It was a quick bargain and both parties parted happily. Lightfooted, I bounced out of the airport to the tuk tuk stand to head for my next destination, a hotel, to catch up on my sleep.
 The tuk tuks are motorcycle-rickshaws, the main mode of transport in Cambodia. A good night’s sleep, a hearty breakfast, a walk around the former Frecnh colonial oupost and I was prepared to hire a tuk tuk to visit Angkor Wat. Originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman in the early 12th century. Later converted into a Buddhist monastery, it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors and is significantly and symbolically portrayed on the country’s national flag.
 The inner walls of the temple depict carvings from battle scenes of the Ramayana and the samudra manthan. Large statues of the snake-god Shesh Nag and the Apsaras are positioned at various ends of the temple. There were some unusual sights too, such as statutes of the Buddha meditating under the hood of Shesh Nag. Prospering from the 9th to the 15th centuries, this was a remarkable medley of Hinduis amd Buddhism.
 A UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat is 5.5 km north of the modern town of Siem Reap which is about 300 km from the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. According to legend, the construction of Angkor Wat, or "City of Temples" in Khmer, was ordered by Lord Indira for his son Precha Ket Mealea. According to the 13th century Chinese traveller Daguan Zhou, it was believed that the temple was constructed in a single night by a divine architect. Angkor Wat';s rising series of five towers culminates in an impressive central tower that symbolizes mythical Mount Meru. Thousands of feet of wall space are covered with intricate carving depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.
 The temple complex is so huge that it takes at least three days to see the entire complex. Outside the complex compound flock the usual hordes of tour guides, hawkers selling books on the history of Angkor Wat, picture postcards, T-shirts, handicrafts, soft drinks, snacks and anything a visitor might want to take home as a souvenir.
 I was not interested in purchasing any knickknacks as a memory of my visit. I sat outside the complex, shooing away the occasional hawker who came to pester me. The heat of the day was making me feel thirsty. I planned to return to my hotel for a quick shower and a stroll down to the nearest pub for a chilled beer. Then I saw, sitting on the ground in the shade of a nearby tree, a man in a white sarong and an orange-coloured vest. He was ruffling a bunch of pages and humming to himself.
 “Why isn’t he hassling the tourists? Why does he look so content?” I asked myself. To get a reply, I ambled across to where he was sitting. He looked up at me. “Sir, I am an astrologer and I can read your future from this collection of ancient Pali scriptures.” He told me to pick up one of the pages before him. I followed his command and handed the page back. “Sir, you have a great future, and for the next five years will keep on travelling and seeing the world.” He revealed some more facts that made me feel content. I dived into my pocket and pulled out a bunch of Cambodian riel notes and handed them over. I no longer needed the chilled beer for now I was a cool, content guy.

Posted by Anuj Tikku 11:41 Archived in Cambodia Tagged temple Comments (0)

Searching for Love in Boracay

Island of Boracay

sunny 28 °C
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It was late in the evening and I had seen all that I had to see in the pristine and utopian Philippines island of Boracay. I had done hours of jet skiing and taken water scooter rides in the sea. The whole day I had the company of Lucilla, my local guide on the island.

She took me island hopping in the morning. We took a boat from one island to the other. She video-filmed me while I took a 30 metre dive into the light blue sea. Lucilla was a darling, short in stature and dark in complexion. She made up for her ordinary looks by her enthusiasm for work and zest for making her guests happy at the island.

”I have to fend for my mother and family that is way I work from morning to noon. I have a boat in which I take my guests island hopping and then I make sure they have enjoyed themselves thoroughly,” said my guide, dressed in a short skirt and brief top.

We ate a spicy meal of chicken and chilly squid at one of the island and then I jumped from the boat into the sea to do some snorkeling. For the first time I was exposed to the world under the sea. It was like being in Wonderland, with the colourful fish, corals, vegetation, rocks. All colour and so much of it.

In the evening I told Lucilla ”I had a great time, saw the great pearls and jewels of the sea, ate the best food on the island, drank the best rum and shopped for a snakebone necklace. But I still feel empty inside. I need the touch and warmth of a woman. I need love on the island. I need a woman.”

Lucilla was taken aback. Then, reconciled, she said ”It is not my job. But I will get you a woman as Boracay is full of ladies of the night.” I sat on her scooter and we went off, looking for love.

We visited one bar, then another, haggling with the ladies of the night. Some quoted 4000 peso for the night some 5000 peso for four hours. The rates varied according to the looks and availability. I kept rejecting the women, all of whom were disappointing.

Lucilla was a bit frustrated as we moved from high class bars to the dingy alleys of Boracay. “I know how you feel Anzu. “ That was how she pronounced my name. ” But these are all whores and if you are looking for love then that is not possible as this is not the right time or place.” I said OK let’s return to the hotel. I realized that one cannot find love. It had to find you. Lucilla was right.

The moment I stop looking for it, it will happen to me. “Thank you Lucilla. You are a good friend. I will go to sleep alone today but, trust me, one day I will find true love.” And we parted ways.

Posted by Anuj Tikku 11:36 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches Comments (0)

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