Angkor Wat and stuff
Holy hells bells. Friggin’ Fantastic!!! I took 627 pictures in 3 days, and that’s an actual figure not the usual Jess exaggeration. Even after deleting out all the bad ones I have about 500. And to think – I didn’t even have Angkor Wat high on my priority list. What a mistake that was! Unfortunately we Masons aren’t very coordinated because within a one month time span my parents visited Angkor, followed by my brother a few weeks later, then me, and Luis sadly didn’t get here at all. It would have been really wonderful had we all come together, but timing and tricky schedules won over logic. On the upside, their visits inspired me to make a last minute change to my route and steer myself over to the Kingdom of Wonders: Cambodia.
There is nothing that I could write about Angkor Wat that hasn’t already been written. All I can do is share a few photos and random thoughts. Every second that was spent touring the archeological complex was an overload. With every glance in a new direction there was something to catch my eye. Every nook & cranny was filled with wonder. I only spent 2.5 days touring some of the sites…leaving a lot more for a future visit.
Snipets and highlights: Day One
I joined a few hundred others in trekking out to Angkor Wat at 5 am for the sunrise. Walking in the pitch dark, stumbling over steps and feeling my way without knowing what was around me, yet I could sense how grand of a place it was. 5 am was a bit extreme as there was quite a long time to wait before even the faintest signs of dawn came. Probably works that way so that the tuk tuk driver can charge his extra $5 for the off hour pickup time. But all of a sudden, things began to take form in front of us and the silhouette of the magical towers of Angkor Wat started to come into focus. Wow! As soon as there was enough faint light to see where I was walking, I left the crowd waiting for their perfect sunrise picture and made my way into the temple. Still quite dark, it was only me and 3 or 4 other people and what an impression that left on me. What a feeling to be in such a space basically all by myself. Every room, hall and chamber opened up before me in complete silence. 20-30 minutes went by before the crowds started trickling in.
The area within the moat is huge and my first visit to Angkor Wat left me in absolute fascination by the grand scale and size of the place, as well as with a vivid imagination running wild with thoughts of what it might have been like when it was the center of an empire. After about 2 hours, I was only satisfied to leave after I promised myself to make another visit in the following days.
Bayon is impressive for its 32 remaining towers and for all of the narrow hallways and passageways to meander through. And bats. Lots of bats can be heard up above as you snake your way through the temple and their droppings leave a bit of an, hmmm, let’s say aroma. I loved temple so much that I returned on the third day for another look.
The Tomb Raider temple. Having been left untouched and unrestored, as much as possible, this temple serves as a reminder of what nature is capable of. The jungle is slowly and steadily reclaiming its territory and is reviving in, around, and on top of the temple. Giant trees and roots have become a part of the walls many of the stones, doorways and pillars have become a part of a tree. This one brought out the kid in me!
My feet, eyes and camera were weary after 10 hours on the go but this final temple from day one did not disappoint. Although still on the classic tour, it’s less visited and therefore less crowded and I enjoyed the quiet space to reflect back on the day and jot down a few notes before everything started to blur together.