Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The World wonder that did not make the 7

I know the 7 World wonders were chosen by a world-wide popularity context where everyone could vote. This system has large advantages but some disadvantages as well. And for me, it is highly unfair that Angkor Wat did not make the top 7! Beyond the fact that it is the largest religious complex of the world, it is also an awestrucking monument.

Angkor Wat at sunrise. It was worth it getting up at 4h30am
But the historical site near Siem Reap is way more than Angkor Wat, it is like the Himalayas where Angkor Wat is the Mount Everest. Most advice that we got told us that 3 days were the best amount of time to spend in here. However, we could not afford more than 2 nights in the area if we wanted to do everything else. So after a quick first look at Angkor Wat at sunset when it was just closing down, we asked the tuk-tuk driver to pick us up at 5am so we could catch the sunrise and make use of the first hours in the morning before the temperatures rise.

Witnessing the sunrise at Angkor Wat is not a lonely experience as there is a huge crowd sitting around with all cameras pointed to the same place. But is an amazing experience to have. Afterwards, walking around the centuries old corridors and looking at the images sculpted on the walls, is inspiring and peaceful at the same time.

Some monks still live in the area
Me and Bayon
Moving forward, to the old city of Angkor Thom, Bayon was the site that impressed us the most. The mystical - all similar, all different - faces that watch over the forest around, that watch over you, that seem to watch over all the ghosts in past, are something difficult to leave someone indifferent. The pagodas with burning incense sticks are still used by locals and monks. And Angkor Thom has an eerie feeling to it (specially as it was raining slightly when we walked around it) with the building still having an impact even if nature has been slowly conquering this place back, inch by inch, tree by tree.

To top all this, our tuk-tuk driver (the one that picked us up at 5am) was the best driver ever. With all communication being done by gestures and by words completely lost in translation, we did not get any kind of guided tour, but we got his kindess, two fresh bottles of water just when we needed them, fresh towels and even our phone music blasting from the tuk-tuk (he actually asked us to put our music and increase the volume, and it wasn't enough, he amplified the sound in the sound system itself to a disco-level!). He made this experience just a little more special! :)

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