William Somerset Maugham: The Bayon Temple In Siem Reip
The allure of discovering the romance of yesteryear lies at the heart of the joy of travel. Explorers and backpackers alike seek to discover destinations ancient and historical, where the memories of decades, centuries, and millennia fill the air with tales of life, love and war gone by. Finding these physical testaments to human endurance though, is not the tough part. Tuning in to the echoes of the past radiating around them seems to take a certain mindset.
For travellers to Southeast Asia especially, true exploration, intended or accidental, becomes internal and personal. Confronted by the serenity depicted in the giant faces of the Bayon Temple in Siem Reap, one can only imagine the peace that existed in the hearts of the people for whom this was
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At the Metropole, the tale of a century – a story of power, love, conflict, and new strength – is fanned through the air, where it ceaselessly circles around the bars, rooms and patios that have inspired the world’s greatest to visit, ever since it opened in 1901.
It was here that William Somerset Maugham, one of the most successful writers of the early 20th Century, stayed with his lover Gerald Haxton. An author who dedicated many of his writings to the mythical quality of the Far East, Maugham was a master of the short story, and in April 1923 wrote his Indochina travel tale The Gentleman in the Parlour in one of Metropole’s famed suites.
It was here too, that after a secret marriage in Shanghai in 1936, one Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, the biggest star of the silent film era, spent his honeymoon with one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, Paulette Goddard. By then, stories of the romantic East enchanted Europeans and Americans alike, and the Metropole in Hanoi was a magnet that beckoned all who were great and influential in the world to come to