Sunday, February 12, 2017

I didn't think I'd be amazed,...

...but Angkor Wat is amazing! Siem Reap is as I imagined it. Dusty. Hot. Jungle-like. But I never imagined Angkor Wat to be as majestic as it is.

Did you know that Angkor Wat was originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the God Vishnu for the Khmer Empire? Then it was transformed into a Buddhist temple in the 12th century. That should make it doubly holy, right?

Sunrise - we woke up with 1000s of others to be here at 4:30AM to secure a spot at the reflection pond's edge for the prized photo of sunrise over Angkor Wat. It was completely worth the wait.

Up until our arrival here, I thought I was just visiting another tourist attraction that needed to be seen, another check mark on the bucket list. Flying into Siem Reap on purpose, staying for 2 days, and then leaving for our next siteseeing adventure for 3 days and then onward was what I was looking forward to. I think partly because I'm so excited to see Vietnam, our next destination.

Buddhism is now the prominent religion here. But Hinduism is still around.

Locals ride anything with 2 wheels. Bicycles, tuk tuks, motorbikes, mopeds.
Our tuk tuk driver taking us through Angkor Archaeological Park's forestry and jungle like atmosphere.

Street food vendors around Pub Street in Siem Reap

Night life

But wow! Siem Reap is a great little town. And Angkor Wat is a magnificent "temple city." I haven't had this feeling about a place since we visited the Moai on Easter Island. I felt awestruck, disbelief, wonder, and amazement. The intricacy of the temples' design is unreal. The grandiose structures, the lack of modern tools to create, the layout, the imagination of the artists are all things that cannot be described by words nor detailed by photographs. Virtually any design or artwork on the stone was carved by hand. It's extraordinary!

Our first afternoon at Angkor Wat

Look at the color of the stone after all these years.

The detail and artistry of the temples are surreal.

Every corner, every angle, every visible space has design. 
It's all about the details.

And it's not just 2D. These are 3D.

Then you go around to see the other temples in the area (Ta Prohm, Ta Keo, Bayon, Angkor Thom - to name a few) and they're ALL different! It's not like the repetitive nature of, say, Egyptian pyramids or Thai temples or other religious structures. Each and every temple here has its own character. You have to see them all individually because seeing one certainly doesn't mean you've seen them all. You could be here for days or weeks.

The ruins at Ta Prohm

Trees have taken over the temple. 

This is the tree in the Tomb Raider Temple or Ta Prohm.

Trees grow when seeds fall into the cracks of the temple and sprout from there. The roots then begin to grow downward as they normally would. 

One of the statues looks so real. 

Bayon Temple - has smiling faces on every tower of the temple.

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