Angkor Wat and seeing hands massage

grey Angkor Wat and seeing hands massage

Circus. A total circus. That is the only way to describe Angkor Wat at sunset. It was an amazing show though! Winding through hoards of camera wielding Japanese tourists, gum chewing Americans (with bumbags) and British tourists with security belts poking out of polo shirts we found a lovely quiet spot and sat to view the sunset.

Angkor Wat is only part of this massive temple complex. It is the biggest part, built by a guy called Suryavaram II at around the same time as the Europeans were busily building the Notre Dam cathedral in Paris. Suryavaram II was something of a megalomaniac, he extended the Khmer influence right through Asia and it would seem when he built his temple was trying to compensate for something (like those guys who drive around in lowered Skyline cars with the lights under the wheels). Angkor Wat, unlike the other temples in the almost 20km square area dotted with temples of various vintage, has been in constant use since it was built. Every block was cut and dragged from a quarry 50km away.

grey Angkor Wat and seeing hands massage

Just as sunset began to light the clouds and just as I had the tripod set up to capture some photos of Jette and I a disagreeable little man wearing a sweaty green guards uniform came puffing up to tell us that we had to leave. The temple was closing. I looked at him in disbelief. We slowly packed up our things and dragged ourselves away, dawdling, we were the last to be shepherded out of the inner temple complex. Not before the guard offered to let us climb the currently-being-restored main temple, for $20US. We declined and slowly made our way out of the inner temple.

grey Angkor Wat and seeing hands massageInto a throng of other visitors, children selling bracelets, adults selling guidebooks, tuk-tuk men offering rides and Japanese watching it all through canon viewfinders. Phirun met us and took us away, efficiently and politely to our hotel.








grey Angkor Wat and seeing hands massagegrey Angkor Wat and seeing hands massage








The next thing I knew I was somewhere down a dark alley in a disused hotel, lying facedown on a hard bed with a man holding my hand. I had left Jette behind to return to the hotel alone. Sounds dodgy? ‘Seeing hands’ is not a charity but a business. Blind Cambodians are offered board, food and massage lessons free for three years. When they graduate from school they work at the massage parlour for one year to repay the loan, after that they get to keep the money they earn. Not only does this keep motivated blind people from needing to beg on the street but it also gives them dignity and a sense of accomplishment. As his thumbs tried to penetrate my lungs through my back, Dale, a short Cambodian man in his mid twenties, was excitedly telling all about his plans for the future now that he has paid back his loan, a future which now extends beyond one day to the next.


The name “Seeing hands” is so apt. Throughout the massage which Dale so deftly performed I was constantly thinking it is amazing how confident he was. The only indication that he was without two eyes, (literally, to empty sockets) was that he started by gently tapping over my back to get his bearings. At one stage for one particularly stubborn bus-seat knot Dale climbed onto the table and dug his heel into my left shoulder blade. I got up off the table one hour later feeling like he had taken my back completely apart, every nut and bolt, polished and oiled all the bits, then reassembled it. This was the first time since I started being assaulted by awkward bus seats three weeks ago that my back had been completely knot free. I gladly left a hefty tip on top of the $7 charge and walked away wondering how this knot-whisperer knows what the different dollar notes are.

grey Angkor Wat and seeing hands massage



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