Crusty Eyes and Magificent Sites: Angkor Wat

Hello friends!

Today I’m on a five-hour bus ride to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. A very loud Cambodian lady next to me has not stopped talking on her phone (on speaker, no less) for the three hours we’ve been in this bus so far. Fun times for an intrepid traveler!

This bus ride has been very uneventful since I have the gift of being able to sleep virtually anywhere (thanks dad!). Besides some country-side views and small fruit-sellers along the way, I’m really just thanking the man upstairs for the AC in this thing.

Uncle Darrel and I have spent the last three nights in Siem Reap, a provincial capital in northwestern Cambodia and I’ve got a lot to share about this place.

The first day we got in late. So we just checked into our hotel (which was amazing, you’ll read a review of it soon) and ventured into town for dinner. That night was nothing to blog about, though.

What is worth talking about was waking up at 4am the next morning and going to see the sun rise, crusty eyed and sleepy, over Angkor temple. People travel from all over the world to see this ancient city that used to house over 500,000 people. To any travelers out there planning on coming to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat, this early morning excursion is well worth the afternoon nap you’ll have to take. The view of Angkor silhouetted in front of the yellow sunrise is magnificent.

Uncle Darrel and I got to the temple around 5:30am and still had some time before the sun actually rose completely so we decided to explore the temple before it got crowded and (more) hot. The inside of the temple was even more magnificent than the outside. Walking through the old stone and carefully analyzing all of the carvings on the walls and the craftsmanship of the Angkor people really made me think. These people lugged insanely heavy stones from miles away via elephants and rivers and created these vast temples using their bare hands and very few tools.

Here’s some super fun facts for ya!

– Just to make the moats around the temples took thousands of people working at once.

– These temples were said to be built between A.D. 1113 and 1150.

– This complex is around 500 acres and is one of the largest religious monuments ever constructed.

These facts can go on forever but I do not remember them all so you’ll just have to do your own research if this interests you.

We visited three different temples that day; Angkor, Bayon, and Ta Prohm. Starting with the largest, most well-known one, I did not know what to expect going in. I figured it would look something along the lines of the White Temple from Thailand. Boy, was I wrong. Just walking up to the temple I was baffled. Not only was this temple huge, but it was also detailed all the way down to the carvings on the pillars in the windows. Uncle Darrel brought my attention to the floor in all of the temples. Most floors in the temples are not protected by wood or anything and since they are made from stone, they erode with time and wear. Throughout all of the temples I had seen, there were dips where modern day people walked throughout the years. In my opinion, something should be put down on top of the temple floors in order to preserve them and make sure they last as long as possible.

Going temple hopping gets very exhausting very fast. Three temples is considered a full day. Starting our day at 4am; we were pretty much done by about 9am. In that time we saw three different temples so I would call it a very successful day. Each temple is very unique in every aspect and it was interesting to see three different ones out of the hundreds. It’s almost impossible to see them all, though, I am sure some crazy temple fanatics have done it, this girl did not.

On top of Bayon Temple, a family of monkeys was just chillin’ and enjoying their morning playtime. Being an animal-obsessed crazy person, I spent a good ten minutes just staring at them, observing their every move. Some might call me the Peeping Tom of monkeys. I accept that. Here’s some pictures of my new monkey family.

During our walk through the last temple we saw, Ta Prohm, we got to see some reconstruction happening. Posters showed before and after pictures of reconstruction and conservation that had already happened and what they have done is remarkable. It is the ultimate puzzle. They take piles of broken stone walls and other parts of the temple, label all of them individually, and put them back together. My family loves puzzles so I suggest we take a trip to Cambodia and help with these restoration projects. We’ll see how they feel about going from an 1,000 piece puzzle in the comfort of our air conditioned living room to an 1,000 piece puzzle 100 times the size in the smothering heat of the Cambodian jungle. I’ll let you know!

That’s all the temple fever I have for today. I hope you enjoyed and stay tuned for more! I might even bring home some of my monkey friends. Getting them through customs will be a sight to see…

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Zoe Zbar

My name is Zoe and I'm a 22-year-old student at the University of South Florida. Join me as I document my journey through life. I'll write the good, the bad, the ugly, the pretty, the funny, the sad, and everything in between. Don't be afraid to let me know what you think. Enjoy!

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