January 15, 2006
Today has been one of my favorite days of the entire trip. Not only was it a day of incredible sightseeing, it was also one of personal accomplishment.
We spent the entire day visiting some of the temples of Angkor. We started with Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex in the world. Built before 1150, most of the bas-reliefs still remain. They depicted Hindu mythology and were probably the most intricate pieces of art I had ever seen. The temple was later converted to a Buddhist temple and we saw several active shrines to Buddha. I was offered incense and asked to pray to Buddha on several occasions.
The view from the top terrace of Angkor Wat was one that I am so glad I overcame my fear of heights to see. I almost didn't climb the 17 degree flight of steps, but I knew if I didn't I would regret it. After finding a flight of stairs whose steps I thought were barely wide enough, I began to scale up that side of the temple. I made it just over halfway and began to panic, so I pulled off on a ledge to try and compose myself. I ended up climbing up some large boulders alongside the staircase and commemorated making it to the top with a photo. I was better on the climb back down (mainly because I didn't want to spend the remainder of my trip atop Angkor
Wat) and felt a bit silly afterward for being so scared.
Next, we visited the Temple of Bayon, which our guide, Bros, referred to as the temple with the four faces. Bros said that there were over 50 columns inside the temple, each of which was carved with four faces, one on each side. I didn't spend much time there, as I wanted to visit the vendors for souvenirs and gifts. I snapped a few photos and headed for the shops.
Cambodia practices siesta since it gets so hot during the midday hours, so we went back to the hotel. I napped for a while and ate lunch by the pool as some of my travelmates swam.