Sunday, April 25, 2010

missing blogs from the weekend

April 25, 2010

It is 4:30 a.m. and we are up in attempt to possibly see Angkor the way Sean Flynn saw it when he was here in 1969…without the tourists. Two problems we may encounter; we can’t get into the Angkor park until after sunset; and there will still be thousands of tourists.

It is an amazing thing to see here in Siem Reap that ruins 700 and 800 years old are supporting a whole city, a whole area. There is an international airport, and literally dozens and dozens of luxury hotels every way you look, even a couple of fancy golf courses! Angkor Wat is the main industry, almost the only industry….and I kind of like that.

I don’t like trying to see something so overwhelmingly beautiful with thousands of chattering tourists all around me, but yesterday it didn’t seem to bother me. Yesterday, we started out by going to one of the temples [built to honor the king’s mother[ which was still in an overgrown state. It is really something to see….the enormous vines and roots of a banyan like tree wrapped around the ancient monuments, cracking them in half or in some cases completely shattering them.

After that we went on over to the more familiar towers of Angkor Wat itself. It was excruciatingly hot and like many others, I had stop and rest a few times. And drank a dozen diet cokes and plain soda waters.

These are amazing monuments. Whatever one’s feelings about the inhumanity of religions, nearly all religions, with the possible exception of Buddhism, it is an incredibly complex work of art. The carved reliefs along the interior of various scenes from the Hindu Ramayana—rama facing off the evil monkey king hanuman---are absolutely amazing. Weird wild contortions as the sides of good and evil fight it out and raise hands in delirious dances—of victory or defeat, I reckon. Most of the stonework appears to be sandstone, but so many people have rubbed some of the figures, they look like polished black marble. The main towers that appear on the Cambodian flag are quite extraordinary to behold. Like the pyramids in Egypt and the Acropolis in Athens, their very familiarity [from pictures] add to the stunning moment when you behold them in person. In Athens, I was struck by the Acropolis rising right in the middle of the city…and I walked up there, just to feel how it must have felt to the ancients….and in Cairo, there were the familiar pyramids rising up at the very edge of a tacky suburb of the city.

Ralph showed me where various parts of the main temple were used for the Angelina Jolie movie, Tomb Raiders, although I may have the title of that film wrong. It’s hard to imagine how we could ever get access to such a popular tourist site for our film, but he thinks it’s possible….also possible to juxtapose shots of empty ruins with other scenes less populated…..there are Hindu/buddhistic ruins all over the country, although none so magnificent as these.

With Siam on the west and Vietnam on the east, Cambodia is a country that has a deep, historic inferiority complex. The Buddhist teachers tell their students to learn their numbers or the Chinese and Vietnamese will take advantage of them. BUT, they all cling to the image of the magnificent Angkor wat as something so very grand their own people once built….so there is greatness within them if they can only find it again.

It had been 13 years since Ralph came to Chapel Hill to write the script for our movie, but we bonded so totally at that time, it doesn’t seem like any time has passed at all. He is in remarkable physical condition, and always razor sharp with a witty comeback if I get too smart, or too lax….lots of nice quality time alone for us to talk about The Movie and everything else under the sun. I’m waiting now for him to get his shower and come go watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat as our subject Flynn may once have done….

…..and so our wonderful tuk tuk driver was waiting for us in the dark and we puttered on out to Angkor Wat and the road was already crowded with people seeking the same quiet setting we were….hundreds of people were already at the main Angkor wat…..

2 Comments:

Blogger Charles said...

Great stuff, Perry. Reminds me of being similarly astonished by Mayan ruins in Honduras and Guatemala, though without the deep resonances of war and remembrance for me personally. But Guatemala had its own "civil" war, thanks to the CIA, and many techniques that were developed in Viet Name were used there. As a result, some 300,000 Mayans were murdered by the government. As in Viet Nam, troop actively supported by the US wiped out whole villages -- "And babies?" "And babies."

4:32 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Great stuff, Perry. Reminds me of being similarly astonished by Mayan ruins in Honduras and Guatemala, though without the deep resonances of war and remembrance for me personally. But Guatemala had its own "civil" war, thanks to the CIA, and many techniques that were developed in Viet Nam were used there. As a result, some 300,000 Mayans were murdered by the government. As in Viet Nam, troops actively supported by the US wiped out whole villages -- "And babies?" "And babies."

4:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home