Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Sunrise

You can’t think of Cambodia without thinking of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat including the Angkor complex. The very name stirs up romantic images of 19th-century explorers hacking their way through thick jungle and stumbling upon an ancient lost city or perhaps more contemporarily Angelina Jolie swinging through the vine-covered edifices in the movie “Tomb Raider”. The silhouette of the main complex is one of the most recognizable symbols of ancient architecture and a visit there is a must do. But, while you are there, don’t forget to visit other Siem Reap temples such as Wat Bo.

For many centuries the Angkor complex was the center of the Khmer kingdom. At its peak during the 9th to 14th centuries Angkor was by far the largest city on earth boasting of over one million inhabitants and far outclassing such upstarts like Paris and London. The entire Angkor complex, of which Angkor Wat is only a small part covers over 400 square kilometers. Some of the temples are being restored while others remain delightfully ramshackle.

It is surreal moving through ancient hallways and chambers where once only ancient kings were allowed to roam. In many places, there are still remnants of gold leaf left on the magnificently well-preserved frescoes. Access to many areas access is still wide open, and you have to scramble up uneven and steep ancient stairways to the inner spaces. Although tourism at Angkor Wat has dramatically increased over the last decade, there are still places and times where you can wander the wonder blissfully alone. It is impossible to visit here and not appreciate the ingenuity of the builders. It is also impossible to visit here and not feel a bit humbled.

Shiva Angkor Wat-0216

Shiva at Angkor Wat

Apsaras Angkor Wat-1

Photo of Apsara Dancers at Angkor Wat

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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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