Call me “Pineapple”

Bayon temple at Angkor, Cambodia| Art by Todd Berman

Hi Ben and Brigitte –

Thank you for hosting us in Paris. We can’t wait to come back and eat more “saucisse la pine” with you. Here’s a postcard in thanks.

Biking through the temples of Angkor, the first sense assaulted is touch – the burn of grit in the eyes from dust kicked up by speeding tour vehicles, the tickle of trickling sweat from exerting ourselves in the tropical sun, and a thumping ass-centered soreness from bumping along on a rented junker bike on under-construction roads.

Throughout the day, our other senses are overstimulated to the point of system shutdown, leaving Todd and I teetering on the verge of temple burnout.

Visually, despite many missing Buddhas, stolen over the years by colonialists and capitalists, the temples at Angkor go beyond stunning to reach the status of sublime. The buildings are everywhere dramatically covered by carvings and relief sculptures, reverent mobs of tourists, and a riot of nature barely held in check.

Even the smells of this place provoke, whether noxious fumes from idling engines and garbage fires lit at sundown, or the earthy waft of an elephant walking by.

What we didn’t expect was the barrage of noise – Angkor’s not a place to follow your bliss unless you slip easily into obliviousness. Of course there’s the horns of tuk tuks, cars, motorbikes, and tour buses, the soundtrack of much of Asia. There’s the creepily mechanical, high-pitched scraping sound of the jungle cicadas, which we at first mistake for a siren. There’s the Cambodian women who hawk at every temple entrance screaming “Pineapple!” at me, as if it was my name.

I buy a pineapple, making sure the competition knows the sale went to the one tout that didn’t shout. With that, my last sense is taken care of.

Lauren + Todd

Photos from Angkor and Siem Reap, Cambodia

If you can’t see the photo slide show above, view the photo set on Flickr.