National Geographic : 1935 Oct
BY MOTOR TRAIL ACROSS FRENCH INDO-CHINA WASHING ONE'S DIRTY LINEN IN PUBLIC IS NO SHAME IN HUE Beside the busy waterway which divides the commercial section of the capital of Annam, women in wide candle-snuffer hats squat on the stone quays and gossip and wash, gossip and wash. A load of building sand is being rowed to its destination on this canal, which is the cargo highway of a city well supplied with rickshaws and automobiles. Not far from the splendid boulevard which connects the Angkor ruins we passed a shadowy village livened by a few points of light. Beside me, my barefoot chauffeur snored, his head against me like that of a child. No ready-made drama, yet that night ride to Angkor is a vivid, welcome memory. One rainy March day a year before, the Paris copy of Angkor Wat at the Colonial Exhibition carried me half around the world. The real thing carried me back from the tropics to the metropolis. The stupendous original, worthy of the greatest temple builders, is not impressive at long range. Well-read visitors, looking at it from the bungalow, find the reality dis appointing. No wonder! Manhattan's incomparable skyline as seen from Jersey City, across the Hudson River moat, is not much farther away, and man-made structures must com pete with those composing New York's glittering palisade of stone and steel-the modern Angkor Wats - "temples of the city." Set a 180-foot tower in the middle of a square mile of courtyards, corridors, and moat and it is flattened out. But the inner steps to the Bakan rise before one like a wall, and hot-weather visitors are tired out before they reach the topmost shrine. The mind must travel a longer road than the feet to appreciate this strange religious edi fice, shared by Brahmin and Buddhist dur ing 200 years. MONSTERS, SERPENTS, GODDESSES Pierre Loti, as always, adds the romantic touch to this vast expanse of the unfa miliar, this architectural story-book of a complex mythology! "Everywhere monsters at death grips. Everywhere the sacred serpent dragging its coils along the ramps and lifting its seven venomous heads like a scarecrow.