The mesmerizing ruins of Angkor, one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia, attracts millions of visitors to Siem Reap every year. This is also the reason why I’m here.
On the day we arrived at our hotel in Siem Reap, the staff told us that the electricity source has been disrupted due to a storm a couple of days ago. We were shocked, I can not recall when was the last time I lived without electricity. “That means cold water showers, no air-con, and no internet?” “Yes”, the staff handed us two candles with an apologetic smile. So awesome, Cambodia! It’s just like camping!
This is my second time in Cambodia. The first time was 9 years ago, I stayed in Siem Reap for 3 days. I didn’t know anything about Angkor, but immediately I felt in love with these mysterious ancient ruins. This time I would like to stay for one week, instead of just bringing home some nice photos, I want to come here with respect and leave with more understanding.
The temples of Angkor, built by the Khmer civilization between 9th century to 13th century, is one of the mankind’s most astonishing architectural achievements. Some people said it was lost in the vast jungles for more than 500 years until a French explorer Henri Mouhot rediscovered it.
April is already very sultry in Cambodia. The temperature ranges 25-38 degree celsius. The early morning is the best time to see Angkor, when the crowds are low and the weather is still cool. We wake up at 4am for the sunrise almost everyday. After 9am, the popular temples are packed with people. Around 10am we would go back to the hotel to avoid the crowds and the heat, also do some reading and studying.
Angkor wat is the largest religious monument in the world. And the sunrise here is not to be missed. We were lucky that it didn’t rain for the whole week. Sometimes the sun would hide behind the clouds, but on an extremely lucky day the sun would illuminate the whole temple complex. The mesmerizing beauty of the changing sunlight is beyond words. We just need to come with a quiet mind to appreciate it. I’ve heard that only on the days of the spring and autumn equinox, the sun would rise from the middle tower of Angkor Wat. It’s amazing how accurately calculated were the architects a thousands years ago.
The beauty of sunrise here is not just about the architecture. The lotus ponds that reflect the whole thing make it magical. It’s also a reflection of a buddhist teaching - emptiness.
What is reality? What is illusion? How do we judge?