Bicycling Angkor

King Jayavarman VII at the North Gate of Angkor Thom

King Jayavarman VII at the North Gate of Angkor Thom

The Angkor complex near Siem Reap, Cambodia is a massive collection of over 1,000 temples ranging in scale from the legendary Angkor Wat to non-descript piles of brick rubble being quickly being lost to the ages. At its peak over a thousand years ago Angkor was the largest pre-industrialized city in the world boasting over one million inhabitants. While Angkor Wat gets most of the attention Angkor Thom is my personal favorite.

Jonathan Look at Angkor Thom

Along the Wall at Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom (literally: “Great City”), was established by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. It was actually the longest lasting capital of the Khmer empire. These well preserved ruins lie on the Siem Reap River about a mile north of Angkor Wat. Surrounding Angkor Thom are walls, about three kilometers square which are over 25 feet high and about 20 feet wide. Inside the walls are wide tree lined boulevards, several ancient man-made lakes many temples including Bayon!

Visiting a Prasat Chrung

Visiting a Prasat Chrung

One of my favorite activities while I lived in Siem Reap was to take a day and ride a bicycle on the paths on top of the walls surrounding around Angkor Thom. There you can just sit and enjoy beautiful views of the river, unmolested by other visitors. Wander around the small outpost temples at the corners of the wall called Prasat Chrung or ride into the heart of Bayon and contemplate the massive stone faces of  King Jayavarman VII with his enigmatic smile.

King Jayavarman VII at Angkor Thom

King Jayavarman VII at the North Gate of Angkor Thom

I just love little daily adventures like this. I know it may seem entirely unconventional but this is exactly how I pictured retirement.

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn’t intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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