As early as it was (approximately 4am), nothing could’ve stopped us from experiencing a sunrise at the worldly famous monument Angkor Wat. The majestic village of Angkor near Siem Reap is an architectural, artistic, cultural and religious curiosity and it has gone through many changes, destruction and restoration since its first stone was laid in the 12th century. This UNESCO’s Heritage List’s architecture is a beautiful mixture between the primitive Cambodian beliefs in animism and spiritual forces, hinduism and buddhism.
As soon as we entered the gates of Angkor Wat, an intense feeling of happiness went through our bodies. We were there; at this magical place we’ve heard of and talked about for so long. Just like the day we went to Machu Picchu three years ago, the simple fact of walking through a monument that represents so much to so many souls made us feel small and child-like. This is how this special, although exhausting, day started.
In 9 hours, we chronologically went to Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Phrohm and Banteay Kdei and quickly stopped at a few gates and view points with a tuk-tuk driving us the whole time. Each temple had a unique vibe but they mirrored each others at the same time. The majestic statues of the multi-faces gods, the perfectly squared pieces of rocks, the huge buddhas, all the tiny details carved in stone; everything was there to amaze us by its beauty and precision.
Being surrounded by so much history was fascinating but also overwhelming at times. Knowing that there was so much more to this site than what we knew about it was a intellectual challenge and the intensity of the circuit was making it difficult to just sit back and take it all in. Although our driver was adorable and left us enough time in each temple, following a tour added an extra pressure to this already intense and oh so hot day. Josh went back a few days later with a scooter while I was at my yoga retreat and the freedom of rolling around at his own pace was an absolute pleasure for a temple-lover like him.
To me, one day to visit the village felt enough but I wish we would’ve done it on a motorcycle straight away. Angkor isn’t so far away from the city centre which makes it possible to have a micro afternoon nap and go back there for the sunset. I was that tired I fell asleep on the tuk-tuk on our way back to the hostel. And if you’ve ever been on a tuk-tuk, you know it’s no easy task.
Because we were fortunately out of the peak season, starting the day so early made it possible to avoid the horde of visitors in most of the temples. However by 11am, the sight of rich tourists riding elephants or pushing us to take photos was sickening. But at the end of the day, as our sore bodies were laying in bed, only the beautiful memories remained. Coz we were at Angkor village and there’s not much to complain about.