Monday, May 13, 2024

Angkor Wat, Cambodia: Unearthing Timeless Treasures

Off to Cambodia, there's one place you can't miss: Angkor Wat. The excitement builds, even the night before, fresh from HO CHI MINH CITY. I couldn't sleep; I was eager for morning to come. Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the world's most famous landmarks. Our journey began with getting our passes, with choices from a day to a week of exploration. We chose a day. Walking into Angkor Wat, we followed a dusty road lined with towering stone pillars and sculptures. The temple's grandeur unfolded before us as we explored every corner.

Trust me, navigating Angkor Wat is a breeze if you follow the signs, allowing you to fully admire and capture its beauty. Continuing inside, you'll stumble upon Angkor Thom, the fortified inner royal city constructed by King Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. There's so much to admire until moving further can literally hold you back. Apart from posing and taking pictures for remembrance, it feels like you're in a lost city all by yourself. Thanks to my tour buddies for helping with my pictures; they were fascinated by my poses. Well, it's just me, but soon they were trying new poses too.

 





Here, iconic landmarks like the Bayon, Terrace of the Leper King, and Baphuon await your exploration. Fun fact: this is where scenes from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider were filmed! Experiencing it in real life surpasses any movie magic. It's like visualizing the movie.



After a fulfilling morning, feeling rather exhausted, sticky due to the scorching sun, and covered in dust, we indulged in a roadside Khmer lunch, rejuvenating ourselves with bold flavors and fresh ingredients. The Khmer Vegetarian Curry stole the show with its vibrant taste, while the Steamed Pumpkin Custard served as a heavenly dessert, energizing us for the rest of our Angkor Wat adventure.


Back on the long walk, surrounded by fellow travelers and guided by our friendly local tour guide, we made our way towards the heart of Angkor. Crossing the bridge and tackling the steep, uneven stone staircase to the top was a bit nerve-wracking. We were warned to watch our step, especially if we were afraid of heights. But reaching the summit was an entirely different experience. The symbolic stone walls and the religious history of Angkor Wat seemed to come alive before our eyes. Taking in the panoramic view, we bid farewell to Angkor Wat, feeling grateful for the opportunity to witness such beauty.


But our adventure wasn't over yet. The highlight? Sunset watching. It was chaos. The dusty uphill slope felt never-ending, and I admit, I almost wanted to turn back. As we reached the top of Bakheng Mountain, I felt like I had truly conquered something. The long queue to climb the stairs was daunting, but the breathtaking view from the summit made it all worth it. As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the ancient ruins, I felt a sense of peace wash over me, grateful for the experience despite the physical struggle.


Spending a day at Angkor Wat, followed by sunset gazing, is a quintessential Cambodian experience. But trust me, it's not all glamour - it can leave you tired and dusty, with a sun-kissed tan to boot.

 

Get ready to make the most of your Angkor Wat visit with these handy suggestions:

Keep cool in the heat by wearing light cotton clothing.

Navigate the temple complex comfortably with flat, supportive shoes.

Stay hydrated by carrying water with you.

Protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses, a hat, or a scarf, and apply plenty of sunscreen.

Stick together in tour groups or with whoever you are touring with, to avoid inconvenience and ensure everyone stays safe.

Respect Angkor Wat's rules and customs, including honoring the gods and being mindful of local prayers and rituals.

Decide for yourself whether to believe in the blessings of the prayers and tied wrist strings. 

Feel free to indulge in local products from traders, but remember to bargain and stay firm.

Consider your mobility before visiting; if walking is a struggle, Angkor Wat might not be the best choice for you.

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