In third grade I picked a book up off the school library shelf about Archeology and instantly fell in love with the topic. From then on – or at least for the next few months – I wanted to dig for buried treasures, explore like Indian Jones (hat included) and visit ancient ruins and temples. It look exciting, adventurous. The dream stuck with me through college, where I minored in Anthropology, but instead of digging I turned my mind toward travel…and Cambodia.
Fulfilling that scrolled out prophecy of intrigue, the first stop on my southeast Asia tour with G Adventures this past spring was poetically my dream destination – Angkor Wat.
Watching the sunrise over the sandstone, lotus roof – hues of tangerine, rose and Tiger Lilly sweeping the clouds behind the silhouetted temple – , I swelled with excitement as if each added ray of light was filling an empty cup. In a few hours time, I would set foot on this centuries old Hindu Temple and give photographic-praise to its hidden details.
As the hot, Cambodia sun rose fully, my group took to the Jungle Temple (Ta Prohm), Angkor Wat and then the Water Temple (Bayon) with its Buddha faces. Banyun trees overwhelmed the temple stones, crushing their stability but also sheltering them from further weather deterioration.
Constructed by early kings of the Khmer, the temples are holy places built to praise a single god. Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu, the supreme god and all-prevading essence of all beings – and it’s stood up to its namesake. Even in the high humidity and blistering sun, the temple stands on – though the weather, as a tourist, is pretty exhausting!
With the help of several reconstructions and preservation projects funded by India, Japan and Germany, this UNESCO site will continue to mystify, enchant and inspire new generations of children – and adults – around the globe.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? It’s never too late!