|Entrance to Angkor|
Trudging down dusty lanes and thick stone roads to tread lightly through temples dating back to the 12th century is the simplest description of a day’s adventure in Angkor, in northern Cambodia. However, it doesn’t touch the majesty of the remnants of a powerful society and the enormous infrastructure that supported it.
I had no idea what I was in for when I took off that morning with my tuk-tuk driver. In fact, I told him he could just drop me off at Angkor Wat and I’d catch a ride back. He was very patient and pulled over explained that Angkor Wat wasn't just the biggest temple of Angkor and that it was a huge area that had been a city (encompassing an area of 15 miles by 5 miles I later discovered). Amazed, I settled in and let him be the tour guide.
I’m glad I did because it took about 4 hours to wind through the area and hit the three top attractions; Angkor Thom, another temple the locals refer to as the Tomb Raider (so nicknamed after the Laura Kroft movie but actually named Ta Prohm Temple) and finally Angkor Wat itself.
I thought Angkor Thom, with its many huge stone heads facing every which way, was the most beautiful and had the most serene feel to it. There were numerous nooks and twists and turns so that it was rather easy to get “lost” but it wasn’t terribly large so there was no danger of truly losing your way for long.
|Tomb Raider Temple|
My favorite for atmosphere was the Tomb Raider ruins with exotic trees growing from the great stone slabs. If ever there was a made-to-order movie set this is it. It was about a half mile walk to the ruins along a thickly wooded area which highlighted how hidden much of the more than 1,000 temple ruins are.
|Bridge to Angkor Wat|
Finally, the largest and most impressive on size alone was Angkor Wat. This involved another long walk but this time down a bridge comprised of big blocks about 2 feet by 4 feet each with an intricately carved balustrade along the way which leads to another entry and continued path to the imposing structure that was in fact a Hindu temple originally. In fact, Angkor has been both Hindu and Buddhist during different reigns.
Everything about this abandoned city is intricate, bold and beautiful including the peaceful river you ride alongside to get there. If it weren’t for being surrounded by chattering tourists beside you everywhere it would be like stepping back in time. Instead it feels like Disneyland for history buffs.
|A quiet corner of Angkor Wat|
How wonderful it would be to quietly explore this place alone at dawn or with the one you love!