You’ve seen that picture of Angkor Wat many times before: Five perfectly symmetrical lotus-shaped towers rising 65 meters across the pond.
It’s iconic. It’s beautiful. But it seems like few people actually bother to write or talk about what they saw once their shoes step on the great monument itself, which surprises me because it’s certainly no less impressive seeing Angkor Wat up close.
Knowing the historical background certainly helped me to enjoy Angkor Wat more. I saw other tourists too busy taking pictures, complacent to the information overload their guides are bombarding them with. I’m glad I made the decision not to go with a guide, which forced me to read up at my own pace.
The carvings on the Angkor Wat temple depict stories from Hindu mythology and the historical wars of Suryavarman II against the Cham. The revolutionary battle ushered the ancient Khmer civilization into its political and territorial apex, which led into prolific innovations in art and architecture.
And if history is not your cup of tea, well… just sit back and look at the fine carvings:
As I walked out of Angkor Wat to continue to other temples, I stopped and turned back for one last look. I saw memories of the great Khmer Empire frozen in time. A time when the then-reigning force conquered parts of central and southern Vietnam, as well as much of what would become modern Thailand.
What did you most about Angkor Wat? Have you ever been to a place that brings you back in time?