Walking through the Angkor Wat and experiencing its majestic nature felt like a lifelong ambition of mine had been completed. I arrived by tuk-tuk in the mid-day tropical sun, beating down upon me and the surrounding complex as if God himself relinquished all his power and energy to show me, in all its glory, the significance of this wonder.
I strolled slowly on the walkway leading towards the entrance of the temple, my head held high in an almost permanent state. The five ancient temple towers representing Hindu spiritualism drew me in as I became closer to the outer 12th century façade.
My surroundings transported me to a by-gone era, an ancient civilisation in the midst of religious power and might. Fellow travellers near me seemed to disappear into non-existence; it felt like I became one with the Khmer people and their beliefs.
The temple unhurriedly attained developing depth and complexity with every stride I took. What gazed upon me suggested Vishnu himself devised such an exquisite sanctuary. I brushed my hand upon the stone-cold exterior and instantly felt a rush of hope – of almighty grace and importance.
I stopped still and closed my eyes. My five senses were at maximum level, bringing alive the magical awe-inspiring feeling I had read so much about in previous journals and diaries documenting this area. I felt, for the only time I have felt during my travels, a sense of bewilderment and wonder.
This is the Angkor Wat, the land of enchantment.
I continued through the crumbled yet dignified main entrance, finding myself immersed in its interior. My head – constantly moving at all angles – absorbed every single fragment of its architecture; it was nothing I had ever seen before. The walls were a diminished grey colour, due to this I felt the temple had aged; bringing it into a higher level of wisdom with an impressive story to tell its pilgrims.
Like a living and breathing organism, the mysterious pull of the temple grabbed me further into its heart. I continued walking, constantly in awe around me as I touch and feel my way round. I found myself to be outside again, but within the internal structure of the site. The sunlight touched my skin to create a warm feeling, one of tranquillity and calm. I felt like the temple wanted me to be at peace.
One of the most striking elements of the Angkor Wat is the five towers that rise above the rest of the temple. I stopped, wiped my face with a cloth to freshen myself, and took a moment to gaze upon one of them. A rather steep flight of stairs seemed to lift into the air flowing into the mouth of one of the towers. My inquisitiveness got the better of me, so I started towards them.
The sense of elevation as I climbed the stairs gave me a feeling of undertaking a trial, that to truly understand and comprehend the beauty of this complex then a physical and mental challenge must be undertaken. I gladly accepted myself to participate in this, with most other tourists crowding around the base of the stairs taking photographs or idly sitting down drinking copious amounts of water.
I climbed higher and higher. The baking temperature was beginning to make my skin turn a pinkish hue and my forehead was trickling with beads of sweat. The magnificence and beauty of the Khmer civilisation propelled me into succeeding, I thought to myself. I had to see this.
Upon reaching the top I staggered and caught my breath. I took a big gulp of water, wiped my mouth and slowly turned around to see the view that I had reached. The view was astonishing. As far as the eye could see, lush green fields dotted with healthy tropical trees surrounded the vicinity. The moat surrounding the Angkor Wat could be seen, acting as its natural protector – but looking ever so tranquil and calm. Small families of monkeys could be seen relaxing in the natural playground the site had to offer. This is how the ancient Khmer would have felt, and wanted future generations to feel. I was seeing life at its most beautiful. I spent awhile staring wondrously at the Cambodian frontier, feeling awe-inspired and touched.
About the Author: I am interesting in travel and seeing the world, having been to South East Asia twice and seeing most of Europe. My next adventure see’s me exploring this Asia for the third time, including Australia and North America. Graduating with a Geography degree in 2013, this propels my interest even further and I am thinking of undertaking postgraduate study. I also very much enjoy writing.