After a bouncy 20 minute tuk-tuk ride away from Siem Reap, I arrived at the world’s largest religious structure, Angkor Wat, while licking fresh wounds of a hurtful betrayal. However, one step inside these colossal remnants of Khmer Architecture, and I thought it best to put my tongue back inside my mouth.
Travel never fails to remind us that our battles pale in comparison to battles that came before us. Someone had to move these massive sandstone pieces of rock from quarries miles away, somehow manage to stack them on top of each other, and then carve thousands of devantas and stoic Buddha-esque faces that emerge from towering formations like faces pressed into a pin screen. Who was I to be moping around this incredible temple?
Angkor Wat and the surrounding temple complexes stand as symbols of endurance and strength; in the presence of ancient, commanding structures like this, we are called to see beauty, even in moments of pain. We are able to restore ourselves by opening our eyes to wonders of the past. We indulge our spirits in split seconds of awe and inspiration powerful enough to make us forget the rest of the world. I live for these poignant travel moments.
Like all great wonders of the world, my pictures fall short of capturing the grandeur of Angkor, but here are my favorite 24 pictures anyway.
After admiring several different complexes for 16 hours over 2 days, I understood that at one point in time, each stone had its exact, special place, like people in our lives, but as giant trees clung around these structures like vines and undermined the very foundation of it, Angkor let the shakiest of structures collapse in order to find space for new roots.
The beauty of Angkor matures with its slow demise; however, the focal point is not the fallen ruins, but the remarkable structures that are still standing tall enough to tickle the fiery orange sun as it rises over Cambodia.