Edward explores the mysterious temples of Angkor Wat
"While looking through my travel diaries from our big trip to South East Asia, I’m transported back to the wonders of Angkor Wat." - Edward
In 2018, Maureen and I celebrated my retirement with a long-awaited tour of South East Asia. Our love of history meant that there were several UNESCO sites on our itinerary – but I was most excited to travel to Angkor Wat, the great Khmer temple. I recently pulled out my diary from our time there.
April 20th, 2018
We arrived in Cambodia late this afternoon after an easy flight from Hanoi to Siem Reap. On the drive to our hotel near Angkor Wat, my excitement for our next adventure was kindled by the sight of saffron-robed monks and grand, French colonial architecture sweeping past the window.
Because Angkor Wat has been at the top of my bucket list for a very long time, Maureen and I decided to make our visit extra special by using our Accor Plus discount to splash out on a room at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort. Having just enjoyed a fragrant lobster ragout at the hotel’s lakeside restaurant, I’m glad we did!
April 21st, 2018
We woke up this morning just after 4:30am and journeyed through the darkness to be amongst the first tourists through the gates of Angkor Wat. As the crowds gathered around us on the edge of the reflecting pool, a sense of shared anticipation began to build. Before sunrise, we had seen very little of our surroundings but then the sky began to lighten – to dusky rose, then peach, then brilliant gold and finally to clear turquoise – behind the iconic silhouette of the temple.
With the colours mirrored by the water and the heat of the day beginning to burn through the morning chill, and despite the throngs of people, Maureen and I felt a deep sense of calm. We’re still feeling it now, back at the hotel. It was actually quite romantic – not bad after nearly 40 years of marriage! We spent the rest of the morning admiring galleries lined with fabulous mythological reliefs before returning to our garden-view room for a siesta.
April 22nd, 2018
This morning saw another pre-dawn start, but this time we left Angkor Wat to the sunrise crowds and visited another of the park’s ancient temples, Ta Prohm. Partially reclaimed by the forest, everywhere you looked the pale roots of encroaching fig trees snaked their way through crumbling doorways and into sunken courtyards. I felt like the explorers I read about as a boy, discovering incredible lost kingdoms hidden deep in the jungle.
Unlike those explorers, though, we got to treat our aching bones to a traditional Khmer massage at the Sofitel spa afterwards – the perfect end to the perfect trip.