Vishnu Temple @ Angkor Wat, Cambodia – UNESCO Site

Angkor Wat? Petra? Machu Picchu? Pyramids of Giza? The debate has raged on: which is considered the best man-made structure? The argument centers around history, value, and of course, the wow factor! We got decked out in our Darwin naturalist jackets, Cambodia hats & loose clothing. Our attire was planned and orchestrated a year before our actual trip. Our Darwinian vests were bought in Machu Picchu. We were very excited when we laid eyes on these vests: we had looked everywhere for these specific vests to wear in Cambodia. A year planning was well worth it.

We hired the same taxi driver that took us from the airport to our hotel. Our driver name was Kim.  He is a very kind, humble and respectable driver.  Taxi for the day was USD $30 plus tip.  He arrived at our Hotel, Angkor Miracle Resort  & Spa,  half hour early as he wanted to ensured we arrived at the UNESCO Site early without crowd. Beautiful hotel, we would recommend this hotel for anyone traveling to Cambodia.  Angkor Wat is about 4 miles north of Siem Reap.  It took us about 15 minutes to get to Angkor Wat.

Decked out in our Darwinian attire, we were all ready for our adventure.  We joined the line to purchase our tickets. We had to take photos to be imprinted on the tickets. The ticket must have a photo of yourself or else you won’t be able to access any of the sites. If you lose your photo id/ticket you will not be able to enter any of the sites. (Unless you meet a really, really nice person at the gate.) Tickets cost were:  After we purchased our tickets we headed back into our car. Our driver took us to the parking area of the entrance to Angkor Wat.

Across the street from the main entrance to Angkor Wat is a large dirt parking area where the locals ply their trinkets and souvenirs along with snacks, soda, water and beers. We grabbed a couple bottles of water and a cup of coffee and headed back across the street to the steps that lead to the walkway across the moat and into the entrance. Before our very eyes, which we couldn’t believe, we were actually there, right in front of the entrance-way to Angkor Wat. There lies a long bridge of tales beyond our imaginations.  Hand-in-hand, we took the long walk into Angkor Wat.  With the sun in our face, it was extremely hot. The entire entrance-way including the bridge was lined with architectural stones of snakes sculpted into the stone rails with long snake bodies and faces.

7 Wonders of the World Finalist Site is Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List

The aged stones are still in great condition but could use a power wash LOL. Nevertheless, Angkor Wat is a great site for the historians and UNESCO Travelers. Words cannot describe this ancient site. So many stories were created right here where we stood. So many lives were impacted by the very place upon which we stood. The incredible wall of mosaic tales…. Pictures engraved in stone of Hindu gods on chariots.  An image of  Hanumanji graces the wall of stories.

Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century inYasodharapura, the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaivism tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors” (wiki).

You can hear all different languages being spoken by Tour Guides.  The diverse array of tourists from all walks of life, speaking in so many different languages, was unbelievable.  An amazing sound to our ears of the same stories being told in so many different languages.

As we ascended further into the grounds of Angkor Wat, there were huge statues of Buddha and Lord Vishnu, the Supreme God of Hinduism. Wrapped in bright yellow satin with lots of essence sticks lighting in front of them. We proceeded to join in the mid-day prayers and rituals. We lit our own Agarbatti and gave thanks to the gods for their blessings. We were then approached by holy caretakers of the deities, who tied a red thread on our hands. This they do to all tourist who grace their deities and participate in their rituals, as has been done in Hinduism for eons, highlighting the influences of Hinduism on Buddhism.

It was now lunch time.  We met our driver, Kim, back at the parking lot.  He took us to a very local restaurant, since we explained we wanted local food, not bland touristy foods.  We made sure we told Kim we did not want “fine dining” but local cuisine.  Kim, took us to “The Angkor Flower Restaurant.”  Shankar had fish curry soup, which turned out to be curry not really soup like we know it.  I had seafood, one of the restaurant’s specialty.  It was so delicious!  If we didn’t need to continue on with our tour of Angkor Wat, I would had loved to stay put and eat more.  We also had coconut water in the coconut, Guyanese style.  Lunch USD $15  for two adults.

Kim drove us back to Angkor Wat and we continued our tour of the world’s largest Hindu temple and largest religious monument in the world. As the sun started to blast us with its fiery rays, we took breaks and stood underneath a couple of ancient, long and strong tree branches for cool shade against the sun.  Words cannot describe the site of Angkor Wat. One has to be there in person to really value this ancient UNESCO site, and Cambodia’s biggest attraction.  Some of the lotus bud-shaped tower designs are destroyed by the passage of time and limited restoration and upkeep.

This magnificent temple is a powerful symbol of Cambodia.  It definitely took our breath away. We loved it so much we bought a ginormous oil-on-canvas painting of it. It was everything we expected it to be and more.  This UNESCO Site is absolutely a WOW factor!

Month of Travel:  Middle of April.
Weather:  Extremely hot in middle of April.  Wear  two layers of clothing when going out, as later in the evening it gets a bit cooler.
Food: Eat locally – menu of authentic food options is enormous!
Taxi: Hiring a taxi for a day will cost about USD $30, plus tip.

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