A strange thing happens as we leave our guest house in Siem Reap.
A woman (kiwi, I think) rushes up and says ‘Excuse me, are you Al Franken?’
We’re only vaguely aware of who Al Franken is. The name is familiar in connection with the rogue’s gallery of outed Men Behaving Badly.
I noticed this woman staring intently the evening before. Turns out she thought I might have been Al Franken, escaping to the other side of the world to get away from bad publicity.
(I doubt a senator – even an ex-senator – would stay in a US$12.00 guest house. More like the Four Seasons. On the taxpayer’s dime, of course.)
Al Franken looks like this.
I don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted.
When I was younger, people would ask if I was Bruce Cockburn. Bruce Cockburn looked like this at the time.
From introspective poet to sleazebag politician. That’s progress.
But I digress. We spend the next two days ambling around Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat.
It features lots of these Apocalypse Now– style stone faces.
Among other things, Bayon is known for its extensive bas-reliefs. They even include rabbits, thus proving how enlightened they were.
Another view of Bayon.
This is Bapuon, another building in the Angkor Thom complex.
An arched corridor at the top.
In the neighbourhood is Angkor Wat itself.
As everywhere in Angkor, the stone carving is superb.
Last stop of the day is Ta Prohm. Angelina Jolie filmed a Tomb Raider movie here. I’m sure the original builder (King Jayavarman VII, in 1186 A.D.) is well pleased.
Me and a really big tree.
Site or Insight of the Day – Siem Reap
While cycling back from Angkor, we pass the office of APOPO and slam on the brakes for a visit.
This is an organization that trains rats to detect mines. I recently saw an article somewhere about using rats to detect mines (probably in The Economist), so coming across this office is pure serendipity.
The rats are very good at it. And they’re too light to set the mine off. We get a demonstration.
Adrian is put through his paces.
Two handlers slowly guide Adrian on a line between them as he goes back and forth. He hits pay dirt with a small TNT-scented object and is rewarded with a piece of banana.
These are giant pouched rats (from Africa) – a different animal from the mangy urban vermin variety – so they have more of a cuteness factor.
We leave a donation and head back to town.