Today was a very busy and interesting day. It was our final full day in Cambodia and it would be the longest day. We all woke up at 4 in the morning because today we are going to go to Angkor Wat to see the sun rise. This was something I have been waiting for since the start of the trip. It is one of the 7 wonders of the world so I am very excited to see it.
We arrived at the ticket office at around 4:30 and the booth hasn’t even opened yet. They needed to take a picture of us so that it can be printed on the paper card that they give us. For a days visit it is 20 dollars for all foreigners, but for the local people it is free for them whenever they go. After getting our bad looking pictures taken, we headed to Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was surrounded by water, which in the olden days were filled with crocodiles and big fishes. This protected the Wat from attackers that tried to destroy it. We got out of the vans and walked across the only bridge to the island around the water. We have officially reached Angkor Wat. From the pictures I have seen of the Wat, it looked really small, but now I have realized the massive size of it. It was truly amazing.
Our guide, Mr. Thay took us to sit at the right side, this place didn’t have a lot of people so it was nice and peaceful. The sky at this point is still dark so we can just barely see the outline of the Temple in the distance. As we waited for the sun to rise, Mr Thay explained some basic history of how Angkor Wat came to be. It was very complicated and there was lots of fighting between nations. Also the structure was influenced by mostly Hindu so there were lots of mythology. The sky started to become lighter but there the sun couldn’t be seen, the clouds have shaded it so it is impossible to see the sun rise. It was quite disappointing not to see the sun rise, but the experience was still very amazing.
After the sky started to brighten up, we went to the left side of the Temple where a small lake where the image of the Temple is reflected into it. The reflection of the Temple reflected perfectly onto the lake, it was like a real image of Temple. Since everything brightened up we started to walk into the Temple. The Temple itself had 3 stories. On all the walls there are different wall carvings. These wall carvings are from religious accounts. Each wall is one scene of a story and most of the carvings are about war between the Gods and the Demons. The carvings are so beautiful and nicely done that no flaws can be seen. It is also very well preserved that not a lot of rock have fallen off the wall.
Moving closer to the center of the Temple, the real size of the Temple can be seen. The third level of the Temple had steep steps leading up to it. Unfortunately it is only 7 o’clock in the morning and the third level only opens at 8, but just by standing underneath the stairs make you feel like you are a very small person. We walked around it and Mr. Thay told us the history of this ancient building. We were all very amazed by it knowing that it lasted more than 5000 years ago.
After our visit to Angkor Wat we went to have breakfast at a local restaurant across from the Temple. After breakfast, we went to visit an ancient city. There was another river that ran in front of the city walls, the bridge that connected it had Angels and Demons on the sides of it. Both are pulling a huge long snake, this creates a bridge. At the gate of the city, there are statues of a 3 headed elephant. This was the guard of heaven, so that means that the bridge we were walking on was connecting us to heaven. Going past the walls would bring you into heaven. The next Temple we visited was distorted quite badly. Rocks can be seen lying on the ground and most of the Temple’s first level’s roof has been distorted. Although the stone cravens are still in quite good condition. There are a total of around 54 Buddha face statues placed around the temple. Some were big and others were small. They were all looking at the 4 different directions, north, south, east and west.
The last temple we were going to visit was a Jungle Temple. This means that trees has grown over the Temple and has caused some of the sections to collapse, but the trees cannot be cut. This is because that the some of the trees are actually holding the bricks in place, so if the tree is cut than the temple would collapse. This Temple was truly amazing, there is this tree that grown on thing statue of a Buddha. The weird thing was that the tree grew around the face of the Buddha, showing the Buddha’s face so the Buddha can see everyone. The weather was nice and cloudy so it wasn’t hot at all, but the storm clouds can be seen in the distance so we ended the tour and went back to the vans. By this time the third level of Angkor Wat is opened, but it started to rain so we decided to go back to our hotels.
It is unbelievable after what feels like a day of touring Angkor Wat it is only 11 o’clock. We went back to the hotel and were given an hour to take a nap or freshen up, than we went out for lunch. Lunch was at a simple restaurant and after lunch some of us wanted to go back to the market to do some final shopping before we leave Cambodia. Shopping was still the same but we helped each other to bargain the price down. This was the day when everyone really started to get to know each other a lot better. We spent the rest of the afternoon in our rooms, everyone came to my room and we talked about everything. This was quite sad as it was our final day in Cambodia and together as a group and this was when we got to know each other better.
We had dinner at a International Buffet, it was quite a touristy place and had a Cambodian dance show too. The food wasn’t that good at all, but it had a good atmosphere. After dinner we were going to battle the night market. This was the time to but the bargaining skills to the test. I had the buffet ice cream and it made me feel very bad afterwards. I puked a little so I didn’t go with them to the market. That was a right decision because I later puked all of the buffet food out at the hotel and I felt much better afterwards. This is how I spent my last day in Cambodia. It was an amazing trip and one that I shall never forget. It was a truly a new experience for me and I will look back on it in the future.
Beef Loc Lak