This is what the whole trip was planned around. Jess and I had learned about Angkor Wat in our History of Architecture class at the University of Kansas, and had wanted to see it ever since. Part of our fears was that if we waited any longer, the forests, tourism, or the decay of time would completely ruin the site.
Our driver from the day before had inquired about our plans to see the temples, and agreed to meet us at 7 am to get an early start at the temples. Many of the guide books suggest getting an early start to beat the crowds. The temples get an average of 2 million visitors every year – or around 5,500 people per day. However, the dry season is the most popular time, and we scheduled our trip on the border between wet and dry – as evidenced by the torrential downpour the day before.
Stepping into Angkor Wat was surreal. I had a hard time believing that I was actually standing in a temple constructed about a thousand years ago.
Angkor Wat can describe the complex as a whole, or this particular temple where we first started. While this temple is one of the largest religious monuments in the world, we were particularly interested in the detail of the carvings and construction.
We managed to see most of Angkor Wat, and Angkor Thom, which was created later as a new capitol and city center.
The crowds weren’t too bad until we got to our last stop – the “ideal sunset” temple overlooking a baray – or artificial reservoir. We stood in line for about an hour, as ASPARA, the archaeological preservation society running the park, only allows 300 people up to the top of the temple now.
By the end of the day, we were hot, exhausted, and dehydrated, even though we probably drank a whole gallon of water each. I’m pretty sure that white shirt will never be clean again. We rewarded ourselves and the 49 floors my Fitbit said we climbed with a hearty Khmer dinner.
I know there are a couple of temples that I missed in this day’s post, and some history and details that I would love to add in, but I’ll have to catch up on that later.