For those of you who have never ridden an elephant, getting into the basket is about as tricky as it sounds like it would be. Of course, the natives crawl out on the head or shoulders with ease. But, not for me. I’ve ridden an elephant before in Cambodia, the last time we were here about a year and a half ago. That ride was a more authentic experience. Some Cambodian boys we met took us out to the forest and we paid $5 for these guys to let us ride their elephants. Then, after we rode the elephants, we had to pay for them to let us out of the compound. Sounds authentic, right? That experience was daunting because you basically climbed this rickety structure that was constructed in who knows what year and precariously stepped out to balance yourself on the shoulders of the elephant, then sat down and hoped you didn’t fall. They also took us out into the forest in some pretty rough terrain. This was not exactly like that, but a little scary nonetheless, seeing as how I don’t ride elephants every day.
We are quite a spectacle in this part of the world. My hair and skin color gets me noticed pretty much everywhere anyway. But, put me on an elephant and it takes it to a whole new level. We just rode in a big circle around the temple, and there were tourists everywhere taking pictures of us on this elephant. It probably didn’t help that Jake had his “selfie stick” out trying to capture the experience. So, tourists from around the world now have a picture of us riding an elephant in their photo albums from their temple visits.
I’m pretty much convinced that trees can grow anywhere and the temples prove my point. These were constructed nearly a thousand years ago and have been used for Hindu and Buddhist practices. Angkor Wat, the most famous of the temples, was used as a palace for the king of the Angkor dynasty. You can still see remnants of their luxurious life here, including the remains of an indoor pool. But, back to the trees. They have basically taken over part of the temples, growing up through the stone and not only growing but thriving.
Did I mention we’re traveling with a professional photographer at this point? Well, not exactly professional, but she’s definitely not an amateur. She sees the opportunity for a great picture and takes it. Literally.