I am a writer without thoughts and a traveler without destinations…
…until I saw Angkor Wat.
I know beforehand that Cambodia is a previously conflict-torn country lingering in a prolonged transition from the Pol Pot regime to UN-led democracy. Politics aside, during my stay in Cambodia, I saw how this country is being resuscitated by tourists like me who want to take a glimpse of the Khmer-renowned Angkor Wat.
On December 2008, I booked a 5-day package tour to Cambodia. Together with other tourists, I spent 3 days in Siem Reap and 2 days in Phnom Penh. I would say that 5 days are not enough to discover every square meter of the Angkor ruins. A local told me that some tourists spend 2 weeks in Siem Reap, rent a bike, and explore on their own every nook of the Angkor (those not included in the itineraries of travel packages).
It’s been almost 2 years and I have to admit that I find it difficult to remember exactly the temples I’ve been to. (They all look almost the same.) Good thing I bought a book back then for only 4USD (Yes, you can use US dollar currency freely in Cambodia) and now I have to compare its pages with pictures to match the names of the temples. (Still with difficulty, though.)
The Wonders of SIEM REAP. Siem Reap means the “defeat of Siam” (present-day Thailand), and according to wiki history, commemorates the bloody uprooting of Angkor from Siam territory and transfer to Cambodia in 1907. No wonder why these two (2) countries are in feud in recent years and have exchanged undiplomatic statements pertinent to who owns what in the Angkor ruins. Angkor literally means “Holy City” or “Capital City”, the center of Khmer civilization. Its major structure, the Angkor Wat, is only one of the many temples in the Angkor Archaelogical Park–a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For tourists, this site would be helpful.
The Angkor Wat – claims to be the world’s largest religious monument. It was built during the reign of Suryavarman (early 12th century) dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.
The vision of the Angkor Wat would satisfy any traveler’s thirst for discovery. I had to walk through a long dirt road embraced by huge bowing trees where locals hang out to sell souvenirs and perform Khmer songs. (This is not the main entrance to the Angkor though.) The grueling heat and dusty wind accompanied my tiresome trek. Then suddenly, the skies greeted me, the trees leaned back and the great Angkor Wat welcomed me with selflessness despite its magnificence.
Ta Prohm – was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII (late 12th to 13th centuries). It is a temple monastery with complex layout and offers a romantic atmosphere. One hour tour around this temple is needed to check its numerous hidden corners. The huge silk-cotton trees attract many travelers and photographers.
Preah Khan – was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII (12th century). Alterations were done by his successor, Jayavarman VIII. It used to be a Buddhist university and, on its own, considered a city.
The Bayon – is a complex temple, both in structure and meaning, of face towers built during the reigns of Jayavarman VII and Jayavarman VIII (late 12th to 13th centuries).
Ta Keo – is a giant temple mountain built entirely of sandstone. It was built during the reigns of Jayavarman V and Jayaviravarman (late 10th to early 11th century). It boasts 5 massive towers and a great view of the Angkor Wat from afar. We trekked for around 30minutes (you can opt to pay for an elephant ride to complete the experience) in order to reach the top and it was not easy to climb the stairs with chipping/falling stones. The steps are also built relatively small making it more exhausting and nerve-wracking. But it was all worth it. The Ankor Wat from afar glistens as the sunset overcasts its beauty. It was truly breathtaking.
I am a writer without thoughts and a traveler without destinations. The 3-day stay in Siem Reap may not be enough to see everything it has to offer but it was enough to make me restless…
Restless as I start searching for words and mapping destinations.