Excerpt from Henri Marchal's
Archeological Guide to Angkor

Trips & Rambles

(Note: Henri Marchal is one of the early conservators of Angkor Wat. He was a French archeologist who were devoted to the research of Angkor Wat and its art.)

The succeeding visits to so many monuments and the accumulation of so many architectures found in a relatively limited space is not without provoking weariness in persons who are not versed in archeology, and visitors disposing of some spare hours will be able to take some walks, either in Angkor itself, or in the neighborhood. At the same time this will be an agreeable change while it will enable them to get acquainted with tropical landscapes under varied aspects. I have already mentioned that within the old town of Angkor-Thom the Forest Service has opened up pathways (particularly in the South-West). These offer an excursion under a green canopy, agreeably filtering the sunbeams. During the rains, I advise taking a horse or an elephant because of the numerous pools or marshes on the way.

In the neighbourhood of Angkor-Wat, the native villages with their dwellings built on stakes to avoid the flood at high-water time, will furnish a rustic pictures amusing to contemplate for lovers of exotic spectacles.

But, above all, I should like to draw attention to a delicious landscape that has always been admired by numerous artists who have seen it : it is the river crossing Siemreap village and along which the road leading to the Phnom Krom and the Great Lake runs for nearly ten kilometers. This river with capricious bends, sheltered by fine bamboo tufts, with ever green bands, offers an unrivalled charm; I do not think it is possible to remain unconcerned when one follows it, either in the morning hours, when the sun begins to pierce the forest, or at twilight when shadows spread mystery over the palm or at twilight when shadows spread mystery over the palm-trees and the water gathers the last rays of the sun. This is an unmatched landscape in Cambodia, I believe, which can complete with the finest ones in Ceylon.

Since the Route Coloniale brings from Phnom Penh the majority of tourists, and the old road of the Great Lake has naturally been given up, it seens to me that it is not useless to point out this promenade. One may take the opportunity to go and visit the ancient monuments already indicated, at Phnom Krom or at Wat Athvea; on the way one will see some samples of Khmer pagodas where, unfortunately, modernism by introducing cement in the art of building, has modified the elegant and picturesque aspect of yore.

All along the banks it is refreshing to see native life in the gardens hidden by foliage, with the <norias> or paddle wheels carrying water from the river into bamboo pipes used for irrigating orchards.

Henri Marchal, (Conservator of Monuments at Angkor), Archeological Guide to Angkor,, Saigon, 1932

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