On my first day in Siem Reap, I found myself looking out from the temples. I saw women selling coconuts and bracelets, children selling magnets, tuk tuk drivers madly avoiding one another, monkeys fighting over food, tourists being yelled at by guards to stop climbing. I sat on top of Baphoun and looked down on the crazy world, but felt an inner peace. Despite climbing 5 tiers of ancient temple and what felt like 500 of the steepest steps imaginable… yes, I really did feel peaceful from the top.
People had sat here since the 9th century. It makes you feel small again in the world, but in a different way than standing in the ocean or on top of a mountain. It gives you a sense of vastness in terms of historic perspective instead of geographic perspective.
On my second day in Siem Reap? I drove back past these temples after interviewing field clients for iDE. I spoke with a woman who supports her family by selling trinkets at the temples, and who is incredibly proud of the latrine she bought a year ago, because it stops her family from getting the flu after walking far through the rain to relieve themselves at night. Our drive back from “work” went the opposite direction from my drive just the previous day- I saw the Temples from a different view both figuratively and literally.
My favorite moments at Angkor Wat:
Rushing to make the end of sunrise, mostly because I felt like I’d accomplished something by seeing sunrise behind Angkor Wat. I felt particularly accomplished because I was riding on the coattails of just 4 hours of sleep on an overnight bus where I hadn’t expected us to arrive as early as we did.
Finding a simple, quiet place to sit at each temple and draw.
Walking out of Angkor Wat’s front gates and realizing noone was around, noone had found this hidden path through the forest.
Monkeys will never get old to a girl born in Connecticut.. they just won’t.
Ta Prohm. It’s actually a bit like our own Red Rocks Amphitheater back home, in the way it shocks you with its beauty. Everyone tells you it will be amazing, but you just can’t understand until you see it for yourself. It is different from anything else in the world.