I recently travelled to Siem Reap and explored Angkor Wat for the second time. The first time I went I was a teenager and after being robbed of all my money on the first day, the 50 cent beers on pub street were mostly all that I could (not) remember. With this in mind, I was a bit worried to travel back to Siem Reap with my family, but was also excited to give Cambodia another try in hopes that I had a more pleasant experience the second time around. The good news is that Cambodia made a comeback in the mind of Elise and now she has a slight obsession. Why am I talking in third person?
It took me about 4 years to get the guts to forgive Cambodia and go back for another try, but I am so glad I did. Upon return I found a country full of people that have love for each other and the world around them, even though they struggle with a high level of poverty. The genuine smiles and kindness of the people meant that I was always taken care of and welcomed. From our taxi driver who ended up being our tour guide, to the hotel staff or random servers where we ate, everyone pretty much become my friend and I loved it!
Although I wanted to walk around taking pictures of all the special smiling faces, I didn’t want to be one of those tourists who just takes weird photos of people in every day life. In my mind I would reverse the situation and imagine if someone I sold a coffee too asked me for a photo, which would definitely creep me out. Anyways, what I ended up with were endless photos of temples.
Although these photos look empty and tranquil, I promise you that Angkor Wat is not. The tour groups were out of control! However, the human chaos didn’t manage to overtake the magic that this ancient kingdom possesses. Walking through the corridors and imagining the people that built this or what it looked like when it was all painted are things that really, really make you feel small. I type away on my laptop as a creative release, meanwhile these people move giant stone slabs across miles and then built huge, intricately carved stone temples out of their bare hands. Awkward.
In terms of my outfit, my temple looks were some of the most random of my life. Trying to stay cool in 40 degrees, while covering every inch of your body so your buddhist appropriate is quite a skill. Mostly I wore very random things, but really, when you are as hot and sweaty as I was those days, you really don’t care what you look like.