In Cambodia: Exploring Angkor Wat

18By Lynn Strough
Travelynn Tales

 

This is the second installment chronicling the adventures of Lynn Strough, a local artist and writer who’s been traveling the world since November 2014. Lynn’s travels have (so far) taken her to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Slovenia, Croatia, Ireland, England, France, Italy… and I’m sure we’re forgetting a few destinations. To learn more about her journey, go here.

 

Angkor Wat. If it brings up visions of a long-ago faraway place, something you might have seen in a dream, this is an accurate picture. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia, built in the 12th century, and the complex covers miles of ground. It is the largest religious monument in the world. A wat is a temple, and the famous Angkor that you see in a lot of the photos is but one of many temples here, the best preserved of them all. Originally, Angkor Wat was a place of Hindu worship, however that changed to Buddhism long ago.

 

The nearby town is Siem Reap, and to get to Angkor Wat, you hire a tuk tuk driver, who shuttles you from temple to temple and waits in between. If you want to see something really special, you go at sunrise, which means meeting your driver at 5am, but it’s totally worth it.

 

I rode through the dark, cool morning in my tuk tuk, accompanied by others on the road doing the same thing, and arrived at the entrance gate to purchase my ticket (you can buy a one or three day pass). It turns out that just because you’re willing to get up at 4 am, doesn’t mean you’re the only one. I could show you just my photos with nobody in them, but I think it best to give you the full picture.

 

 

  • Angkor Wat. If it brings up visions of a long-ago faraway place, something you might have seen in a dream, this is an accurate picture.
  • It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia, built in the 12th century, and the complex covers miles of ground. It is the largest religious monument in the world. Originally, Angkor Wat was a place of Hindu worship, however that changed to Buddhism long ago.
  • The nearby town is Siem Reap, and to get to Angkor Wat, you hire a tuk tuk driver, who shuttles you from temple to temple and waits in between. If you want to see something really special, you go at sunrise, which means meeting your driver at 5am, but it’s totally worth it.
  • I rode through the dark, cool morning in my tuk tuk, accompanied by others on the road doing the same thing, and arrived at the entrance gate to purchase my ticket (you can buy a one or three day pass).
  • It turns out that just because you’re willing to get up at 4 am, doesn’t mean you’re the only one. I could show you just my photos with nobody in them, but I think it best to give you the full picture…
  • I waited with my feet sinking into the mud of the pond in front of the temple with all of the other tourists for that magic moment when the sun appears...
  • It wasn’t a brilliant orange sky, it was overcast and pearly gray, but the sun stood out big and bright and bold.
  • Sokha took me all over the temple, told me some of its history, and he described the stories the bas reliefs told.
  • Towards the back of the temple, my guide turned me loose to go climb to the top of the tower on my own. I had to get over my fear of heights, which I sort of did – I climbed more stairs in this one day than I have in years.
  • If you think you can get away without souvenir shopping, think again. There are booths set up everywhere, with people peddling books, clothes, jewelry and carvings, for giveaway prices.
  • Next, Mr. Yen, my driver, who’d been waiting in his tuk tuk across the street, drove me to Angkor Thom, the temple of the giant faces. I just happened to walk in behind a group of saffron robed monks – apparently the monks get to be tourists sometimes too.
  • And they were tech-savvy monks, taking pictures of each other with their iPads and phones. Apparently there was at least one who disapproved of me…
  • It was a super hot day, and the temple was full of tourists, but an amazing experience nonetheless. It was almost as much fun people watching as it was seeing the buildings.
  • And there were many, many photo ops! Here I’m at Angkor Thom, trying to blend…
  • Across the street was Ta Keo, where once again I got to test my acrophobia. (Note the thin rope for a guardrail!)
  • The grounds around the temple were beautiful as well, lush and green, with some incredibly tall trees.
  • And I wondered what exactly I was in danger of here…
  • There were lovely carvings everywhere you looked, like this walkway full of figures…
  • Getting up so early, I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and when I got back to the tuk tuk, Mr. Yen had bought me a fresh mango! It tasted so sweet and cool and delicious.
  • Next up was Ta Prohm, the temple where they filmed some scenes in Tomb Raider. Several of the temples had giant trees growing out of them.
  • The day went on like this, temple after temple.
  • A few more temples followed, but by now I’d lost track of the names and the details…
  • Restoration is in progress on many of the temples…
  • …and local artists sell their wares.
  • By the time we left the last temple, I’d gone through my phone battery and all but a few percent of my backup battery taking so many pictures.
  • It was an amazing day at an amazing place, and I highly recommend Siem Reap and Cambodia for your future travel adventure plans!

 

 

 

About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50-something-year-old woman whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa V21alley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.

 

“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”

 

travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission

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