It’s been grey and rainy in northern Vietnam, so I feel no desire to do anything but read, watch TV, sip on chai (I wish), and laze around. But, here I am finally writing a new post, catching up on the last month of traveling.
After nearly 3 weeks in Laos, I was really excited to head to Cambodia. I needed a change of scenery as I was getting bored and restless, which is absurd to think can actually happen while traveling, but it does. While on the bus to the 4,000 islands in Laos, I made friends with this bubbly girl from New York (who is also coincidentally a Theta) who was headed all the way to Siem Reap. Last minute, I decide to instead go all the way to Siem Reap with her. Ultimately ended up on the road for more than 24 hours, going though the worst scammy border patrol, with little sitting space. Definitely one of my worst long-term travel and border-crossing experiences. At least I had a friend to commiserate with.
Immediately the next morning I got on a bike to explore Angkor Wat, which was a hundred times larger and grander than I had expected. Only three temples were most memorable to me.
This temple was beautiful, covered with Buddha faces. The whole thing smelled wonderfully of bat poop.
The first time I saw Angkor Wat it was crazy packed and unbearable. I skipped it, and then headed back for sunrise the next morning. Along with about 500 other people crowded around lake, we watched as the sun rose over the pillars. The sheer number of people and flashes that were going off definitely detracted from the experience, but it was still nice. My friends and I decided to head into the temple before the crowds rushed in, which was absolutely the right thing to do. It was so quiet and peaceful inside. We climbed around the temple watching the sun rise completely. Now I was actually in awe of its beauty. I was able to capture one of my favorite pictures of all time now, a trio of monks walking around the serene Angkor Wat.
Okay, the Tomb Raider temple was definitely my favorite. The trees growing over the complex made it feel like a true forest temple. A relic of the past. I got a lovely stranger to take a bunch of photos of me as I paraded around posing.
So, this might be an unpopular opinion, but…
I prefer Bagan to Angkor Wat.
I wasn’t as impressed with Angkor Wat as I expected to be. There! I said it. I think the number of people there just bothered me. I wondered what it must have been like 10 or 20 years ago, when no one was visiting Angkor Wat. However, it was still beautiful. During the two days I was there, I definitely wished my family had been there to also see it. This is something they would have loved, since it is an ancient Hindu temple. The dancers and other carvings in the architecture were enchanting. The level of detail in all of the temples were very impressive.