Cambodia - Angkor wat

What can I tell you, in the 3d simulations on discovery channel it looks much more impressive. Beautiful reconstructions of the ancient structures, with animation and 3d and what not. and the fact the real deal is full to the rim with Korean tourists snapping pictures of themselves does not help.

But, and this is a huge but, like some of the American tourist who blocked my view when I tried to get some decent shots, if you manage to get away from the huddling masses, if you manage to squint and pretend the Chinese group with matching tourist hats are actually monks walking to their prayers, you start to feel it. It.

Angkor was is more than a monument. It is a living thing, and this is why people go there and are not satisfied with the pretty discovery channel films. You have to be there to understand it, to feel it, that energy of life, man and jungle, structure and living chaos, life. South asian style.

As I was walking through the different sections, stopping to admire a random decorative texture on a wall, peeking through a broken gate of old stone plates and just wandering aimlessly, I found that more than the structure itself, what captured my attention was the way the jungle reclaimed this temple city, the way nature won. This time.



It is a reminder to us all about our real place on this earth, and in Angkor it seems that the Buddhist acceptance of this passing glory is an anchor in their belief system, a basic concept which , at least for me, is much more evolved than anything the west has to offer.

You don’t have to go all the way to Angkor wat to understand these things, or to relate to the Buddhist concept of change and decay, but when you do go, when you do make the effort to witness it yourself, it is worth it. First hand experience is always better.

There are ofcourse a lot of other things to discover in the Angkor complex, and each part has its own history and own story, and I would recommend using a local guide who can shed light on some of the different structures, cedi's, faces carved in the stone or even the bizzar dinosaur that appears in one of the old engravings. Ha, I bet you didn’t expect that in a Buddhist temple in Cambodia. Now I dare you to find it…
(hint, its right next to the broken stone gate….right…like that is going to help you. Good luck anyway…)


One of the brightest moments of the visit was going to the top level overlooking the whole Angkor wat area, with a three hundred and sixty degrees view of nature and a clear blue sky. Now that is prime real estate, with a nice breeze even In the hottest of the dry season days, and the best thing? If you look out the windows at the jungle and the panoramic view, you don’t see the tourists around you…

My advice to anyone planning a trip to Angkor wat? Give it the respect it deserves in the most simple way – give it time. Don’t do an in-out sign-a-V-in-my-list visit. Sit down. Relax.  Listen to the heavy stones breath. You will find that the tourist move on, and sometimes you get just enough time until another group comes, just enough time to listen to the trees telling you ancient lore and stories of days when the canals were full, when the saffron robes were all around, flapping in the wind, chanting flowing in the air as a magical moment in time brought harmony and prosperity to this beautiful place amidst the jungle vibes.
It is worth it.


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