Angkor Wat is famous for a very good reason: it is stunning in its beauty as well as its mystery. The largest religious temple (Hindu) ever built almost a millennium ago and hidden from all until just recently. While photo opportunities lie everywhere, the ambiance of this vast piece of art is felt only by wandering through its amazing halls and structures.
While there is a peacefulness that surrounds the area, I cannot help but wonder about all the strife and tragedy that has occurred over the past thousand years…taking what was once a mecca of Khmer life and while never fully abandoned, fell silent as the forces of nature took over as regional politics and war ebbed and flowed.
In the jungle north of Angkor is one of my favorite spots, the Preah Khan temple, and unlike Angkor Wat, it has remained in ruins as there has been very little (if any) restoration. However, the lack of restoration actually creates more electricity for me. The temple is full of sacred images of Khmer women protecting the temple with their auspicious presence and as I sat down with my lunch (the fried cakes shown a couple posts earlier), I contemplate how vivid life must have been almost 1,000 years ago.
I admit to a certain naiveté, wishing that I could have been an explorer back in those days, understanding that it was a very hard life, for sure, but I imagine the unexpected delight that around every corner was possibly a new & vibrant culture to be experienced would have been worth the struggle.