They didn’t need to say it. I read it all over their faces. It was the day we sat down together to polish up the plans for our trip to SE Asia. “We are going to see Angkor Wat — a Hindu temple complex surrounded by a moat, built in the 12th Century by the King of Khmer. Early explorers had come back with great stories about it, but nobody could get there to verify it, so nobody much believed them.”
“How did it get lost?”somebody asked. “Swallowed up by the Jungles,” I said in my spooky voice. (I always like to dazzle them with scary historical embellishments.)
“Will we see Siamese cats in Siam?” they digressed. (I took a deep breath.) “Nope – Siam is no longer. It’s now called Thailand. But we’re talking about the lost temple complex of Angkor Wat, sometimes known as the Seventh Wonder of the World.” They weren’t dazzled yet, so I pulled out a few fun facts to try to get them in the mood for some AWE:
In 1860, Henri Mouhot, an explorer, had heard about a great Khmer temple lost in the jungles and was actually looking for beautiful birds when he came upon the temple. Before cameras, explorers had only three ways to convey their discoveries:
Bring ‘em home, draw them or tell about them.
Even though others had found this complex earlier, there was no way to ‘bring it home’ and if they didn’t have skills to draw the thing or tell about it, well, few would believe the discoverers’ stories about what they saw.
Henri took his time to etch drawings of the temple complex and once the Western world saw his drawings and read his descriptions, Henri was set for a page in Wikipedia as the ‘finder of the lost temple.’ Others had beaten him, but Henri brought skills to the party!”
“What about the Siamese Cats?” (I took another deep breath). “No cats here I don’t think – but lots of strange looking monkeys!”
The lesson here is about using what you’ve got: Drawings are good, but if you are trying to lure them to SE Asia, spooky temples and monkeys are a pretty sure bet.