Sometimes we pick up travel magazines and they paint these wondrous images in our minds of far off exotic places all drenched in mysticism and light. So for instance, while on my way to meet D* tonight in Halifax, I pick up the Travel & Leisure magazine and I read about one of the trips that they describe as one of the 20 trips you will never forget.
It described the Kbal Spean, commonly known as the valley of a 1000 Lingams, as this wondrous place set deep in the jungle to the north east of Angkor. Well it took us about an hour (very steep walk by the way) in the rain to get to the river and waterfalls where hundreds of phalluses are carved on the riverbed.
Now the thing is that described this journey and the carvings in great detail .. so that there are:
Shiva and Parvati on Nandi. The lingas are carved underwater in front of them.
Reclining Vishnu with lingams in front
River of a thousand lingams.
Reverse reclining Vishnu with Shiva-linga in front.
Now I think to myself.. as someone who is educated and somewhat worldly, I should appreciate these carvings and what they are and blah blah… but like going to the Sistine Chapel, I was seriously underwhelmed. As much as I was overwhelmed by Angkor Wat and all the temples, I guess by the time I got to Kbal Spean, I was completely templed-out, hence it might not have made the impression it should have. However, other place have completely underwhelmed me, when you think about the glowing articles and pictures you see of certain places, while other places have actually surprised me with how much they affected me. The prime example of this would be the Leaning Tower of Pisa; it really is just a Tower with columns around it, that started to sink. However, getting there and seeing the Tower in its 3-D magnificence really was a highlight of my Italian trips, go figure.
Point is that the more I see, the more jaded I become about these “recommendations” and “reviews”, but it does take some travelling to come to this type of conclusion. So tonight, as I head to Halifax, I’m going to hope that the weather is great and I get some great shots, but more importantly I have a good sociable time, eat some great lobster and not be underwhelmed. I think, I won’t be disappointed though, since there was no goddamn Travel & Leisure article to spoil my trip.