The next morning, my dexterous sweetheart rigged kneepads out of a pair of sweat socks, an ace bandage, and duct tape. We headed for the complex known as Angkor Thom, famous for the huge, mysterious faces carved into the crumbling stone. The first ruin, the Bayon, had no extended causeways. It was all stairs.
I went up on my hands and knees and slid down on my ass.
The other tourists gawked, as did the stone faces of Jayavarman VII, I am sure. I didn’t care. I crawled and slid all that day and the next. At Ta Prohm, where a few months prior, Angelina Jolie had filmed Tomb Raiders, 150-foot-tall trees grew right out of the dilapidation. I got to see that. At Banteay Srei, among the many buxom ladies carved into pink sandstone, we spotted a few super-studly male figures, similarly objectified. I saw that, too.
Our last afternoon, I returned to Angkor Wat and crawled to the top of the towers I hadn’t been able to climb the first afternoon. Stretched below, the temple’s design represented a scale model of the Hindu cosmos. Beyond, the weird, flat, often junglely terrain of Cambodia writhed in the heat. I wept for the umpteenth time that trip, but for the first time, wept with joy.