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Cambodia: Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat | Cambodia | Asia

[Visited: January 1998]

One of the places which had been on my "to see-list" for years, without getting even close to it, was the temple complex of Angkor Wat. For a long time because it was almost impossible, or at least dangerous, to travel there. Then I decided to visit a friend of my university period who was at the time working in Phnom Penh, and as I arrived from Kuala Lumpur, she took me into the city and over lunch proposed that I should go to Siem Reap to visit the temples. Because I had been thinking about them for such a long time, for some reason it seemed almost impossible that I would ever end up actually seeing them.

Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Central structure of Angkor Wat

Before I knew it, I was on the back of a Cambodian motor cyclist, tightly holding the few grips where I could hold the vehicle, as we sailed through the crazy traffic. Nothing seemed easier than buying the ticket, and within one hour I was already confronted with a huge crowd of guides shouting at me - I was the only one of the passengers not arriving on a group tour. I picked one, and off we went, directly to one of the temples from where a beautiful sunset could be seen.

Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): One of the many Angkor Wat temples

The next day left me in amazement at the incredible beauty of the temples, the very delicate carvings, statues, which had withstood so many centuries and so much struggle. Some were even used as practice shooting areas for rebels. I was amazed by the way in which nature and temples live together, trees apparently hugging temple walls with their enormous roots all around them, and the trunk just on top. Sitting on the roof of the boat to Phnom Penh and enjoying the sun, I had a rare sensation of complete freedom, of happiness, of privilege that I had finally seen what I consider one of the most impressive human-built structures.

Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Angkor Wat temple: corridor with sun shining inside
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Statues flanking stairs leading to a temple at Angkor Wat
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Faces of Buddha sculpted from the stone of a temple at Angkor Wat
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Temple partly covered by roots of a tree
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Path leading to the main temple of Angkor Wat
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Face of statue of Angkor Wat blown away by gunfire
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): One of the many small temples scattered around the extensive area of Angkor Wat
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Detail of a decorated temple of Angkor Wat
Picture of Angkor Wat (Cambodia): Temple of Angkor Wat

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