Angkor Wat - I had not heard of this place until a couple of weeks ago when looking for a shorter virtual challenge that I could complete in the matter of a few weeks; this one was only 32 kilometres so I chose it.
I had not done any research nor looked at anything about Angkor Wat until this evening. I have been too busy with life and trying to become more physically fit. It didn’t help that I had taken on three challenges - for different activities - at one time.
Knowing I am about to cross this particular finish line shortly, it was time I took a look at it so began plugging the name into the search engine.
Wow! Wow! Wow! I may not be Buddhist but I can appreciate this architecture. Even if I don’t understand anything about the materials involved in such elaborate architectural designs, as a photographer, I can appreciate every angle.
Angkor Wat started off at the Victory Gate. I’ve chosen to provide a link to Angkor Temples in Cambodia, a site which provides a little history about the place in case you would like to read about this fascinating area of Asia.
There are so many temples around the starting point of the virtual challenge and it is interesting to see how some of the people get from one point to another. It looks like a bike with a carriage attached to the back of it, though there are definitely vehicles in the area. I can imagine, unless it was windy, this would provide adequate transportation during rainy and hotter sunny days, even if it may be a trifle slow compared to what I am used to any given day.
I came across an area with outdoor vendors selling their wares, similar to what you might see on movies.
The Srah Srang was definitely a place that caught my eye. It wasn’t exactly along the trail but I was more than willing to check this body of water out, especially the terrace with the statues looking out over the water. It was a most breathtaking sight. I can’t even come up with the words to describe it but the area is as entrancing as the temples I’ve encountered.
It took a while but I ventured to see the Pre Rup temple, essentially Hindu temple ruins with panoramic views. They might be ruins but they certainly captivated my attention. Look at that stone staircase; wouldn't you want to climb it? I know I definitely would if given an opportunity.
I could go on: the Eastern Mebon being temple ruins with carvings and statues, the East Baray appearing so grandiose. I wish I could have met the people who created these enormous works of art.
I crossed the Siem Reap River and came upon the Ta Som, an elaborate temple with statues of people carved within its walls.
I crossed the boardwalk to check out yet another temple but this one on a man made island, Neak Poan: see photo below. Many trees further out in the water were bereft of leaves while those on dry land were lush.
I continued looking at structures which captivated every ounce of my attention while others walked about as though it was nothing new, enjoying their picnics, focused on conversations. I suppose it was nothing new to them.
The Preah Khan Temple was a spectacular sight to behold with people meandering the hallways. People sat across from the ruins of another temple on concrete slabs which seemed to be constructed for that purpose.
The World Monuments Funds Center definitely needs to have some work done on replacing the heads which are missing off some of the statues but, nevertheless, it is such a fascinating spot to have seen, even virtually.
I walked quite a ways and decided to shake things up a little. I turned on my tunes and continued walking, happy to be where I was. Something was sure to grab my attention soon but, until then, I was content enough to walk - and, occasionally, bop - down the street.
I wondered how these ruins looked in the glory of their prime; they would have been a magnificent sight to behold. I wish I could have touched the stones, climbed the stairs, walked inside the interior chambers, even stroked the faces and hands of the human-looking statues carved into the walls.
The Baphuon Temple stopped me in my tracks. People were climbing the stairs and I was going to be one of them, but something prevented me from going inside. Not far from where I was standing, I looked and thought I saw a human skull. I didn’t think it really was but I decided to continue on my way.
The Bayon Temple was absoloutely amazing with all of the faces carved within the stones. (Photos to the right and immediately below.)
Wouldn’t you know I happened to, of all things, come across a shrine? There was a statue surrounded by so much gold, various ornaments and what appeared to be candles. It was a very unexpected, yet interesting, thing to see and broke up the sightings of various ruins.
I knew there was a funeral monument somewhere but didn’t expect it to be more stone; this didn’t seem to be ruins either.
I walked for what seemed like forever but was actually a short distance to get to the southern gate. It was a nice area with a short bridge to cross to the other side of the water.
There were several places to eat so I popped my head in and sat down for a while to get off my weary feet. I had been in sensory overload from everything I had seen and just wanted to relax my mind and body. I noticed a few clothing stores within a stone’s throw and thought I might see if they have any souvenirs.
Like everything around here, the Rainbow Bridge was fascinating - not so much the bridge, I suppose, but the sights surrounding it. The few people I saw in this particular spot weren’t dressed any differently than at home in Canada.
I enjoyed walking along the water, seeing a few people with their kids. Some were fascinated with the sights around them, pointing at one thing or another; other parents were trying to reign their kids in because they had so much energy. It was an enjoyable walk though I didn’t say it was a quiet one - not here.
Within the columns of the Ta Loek Gopura, I saw a set up similar to that of the shrine, but much smaller and no sculpture of a person.
I passed the Southern Library area and saw a young lady sitting in the would-be window of one of the structures. I saw a rider with her horse going at a fast pace, the horse wearing some type of uniform which made me wonder if there was a competition taking place.
The one thing I really love about the area is the palm trees; they have always held my attention and being surrounded by so many of them feels like a gift.
I am so close to the end of my tour now. The walking tour I had embarked upon didn’t account for all of the extra walking I completed getting a closer look at these locations. For example, some of the galleries added several kilometres of distance, but it was worth it. I would look at people on the opposite side of where I stood and they looked so tiny in comparison to me. We were ALL the size of insects compared to the height of the massive structures surrounding us.
The Churning of the Sea of Milk Gallery blew my mind away; it was ivory, a stark contrast to all the dark stones of the temples and ruins I had seen. It was like a breath of fresh air.
The design on the wall compelled me to take a closer look. There appeared to be the same figure of a human but I am conflicted as to which way it faced because it looked like it faced both. It sent a ripple of shivers through my spine as if the being is going in one direction but looking back.
At long last, I have reached the Terrace of Honor and what an honour it is to have arrived. I am richer than I was when I embarked upon this journey.
There are stones which shall forever be etched upon my memory, sights I cannot unsee and laughter which shall forever ring through the corridor of my soul.
Angkor Wat - a place I travelled virtually and, now, a place I would love to see in reality.
In reality, the 32 km of this challenge were reached through time spent swimming and on the elliptical, plus one session on the indoor cycle. If you would like to explore these virtual challenges yourself, sign up here through my referral link and receive 10% off your first virtual challenge. I would also invite you to visit my Conqueror Virtual Challenges page, from time to time, to learn about the other challenges I've finished.
If you have been here, please feel free to share highlights of your experience at Angkor Wat.