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ANGKOR, CAMBODIA

Angkor Wat at dawn

I first studied the brutal genocide that took place in Cambodia. Then I read ‘First they killed my father’ by Loung Ung and other related books. Finally, I heard so many wonderful stories about Cambodia, some of their landmarks and super friendly people, that I decided not to skip this country in my last visit to Asia.

It turns out this country has way more to offer than a history  of a fairly recent genocide and wars. Among others, it has the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest archeological site in the world : Angkor. It’s so large, that I will just focus on my vivid experiences here.

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Used to wonder and explored Mayan and Aztecs ruins in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, I knew ruins much larger than usual awaited this time. Most guide books cited from one day visits to a full one week visits, offering from bikes to rickshaws to air-conditioned vehicles.

Nature is savvy and takes back what we dont' use

If you believe that the four pillars of human foundation are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (like I do), folks you will find them all at Ankgor.

 
With temperatures soaring above 40° Celsius (May), stretching over some 1000 km2 including forested area, it’s a physical challenge to walk around the large compound. Further challenging is to cycle around them, like I did. You can’t miss sunrise at Angkor Wat, viewed from across the moat. Early bird catches the rise.

Stare at sunrise after you have managed to cycle into the temples compound from Siem Reap town, and begin you long and physical challenging day.

Chasing sunlight inside the ruins

Mental observation on details and historical information of each temple is overwhelming. Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple has countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging program to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

Mind-boggling sculptural details are everywhere to be seen! 

It is emotional; the ruins have a truly outstanding universal value.

Angkor complex represents the entire range of Khmer art from the 9th to the 14th centuries, and includes a number of indisputable artistic masterpieces such as the mentioned Angkor Wat,  Bayon, and Banteay Srei. The Khmer Empire of the 9th-14th centuries encompassed much of South-east Asia and played a formative role in the political and cultural development of the region. All that remains of that civilization is its rich heritage of cult structures in brick and stone.

Great place to read Lonely Planet

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It is spiritual. I suggest you try to check out why for yourself. My own spirit feels happy about all those days I spent cycling around the ruins. Did I forget to talk about the young Cambodians making a living selling goods to tourist around the ruins? Oh yes, I did. Well, let me simply mentioned I found a young and humble lady with a wonderful smile. She reminded me that war and genocide, are already in the past. She has a bright future ahead, and we can help them a little bit by supporting their country by discovering their wonders.

A young entrepreneurial example, she has such a strong spirit!

Facial features... and nice hats!

I snapped this shot, then had no chance but to run away! 

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WBR