The Big Trip: Day 9: Angkor WatAfter a cloudly sunrise at Angkor Wat (which I blogged about), it was time for a quick breakfast before exploring the grounds. I joined the throngs of people leaving the premises and riding their tuk-tuks to one of the many restaurants in the area.

As I was wrapping up breakfast, the rain started to fall. It wasn’t your typical early morning drizzle; it was a full onslaught of water pouring from the heavens. Suddenly, tourists who were lucky enough to be inside the restaurants as it began to rain were stranded, while those just coming in dashed inside to avoid getting soaked. I had to switch tables because there was a hole in the roof right above the table I was seated at. The weather cooled a bit, and at that moment, the hot Vietnamese coffee I was sipping provided quite the comfort.

If you thought the rains would put a damper on the many street vendors and touts around Angkor Wat, then you would be wrong. Within mere minutes, maybe even seconds, from when it started to rain, the street vendors stopped selling their usual postcards and trinkets, and started hawking raincoats and waterproof ponchos (which they were helpfully wearing to show its effectivity). Thankfully, being used to Southeast Asian weather, I was already prepared with a rain jacket of my own, so I didn’t need to buy one from them. Still, it was interesting to watch these street vendors adapt so quickly to the weather conditions.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long until the rains stopped. I headed back to Angkor Wat, and I explored the grounds by myself at my own pace.

Angkor Wat After the RainIt was an amazing experience to be there; you could feel the historicity and importance of Angkor Wat. You definitely felt small inside the enormous complex.

Ren Robles at Angkor WatThere were some things that occasionally took you out of the moment, mainly because some maintenance and restoration work was being done at the time. The most famous relief, the Churning of the Sea of Milk, was undergoing some restoration, so I couldn’t view the actual relief, just a tarp rendition of it.

Churning of the Sea of Milk... on tarpThere were also workers going to and fro, and some sections of the temple were inaccessible.

workers at Angkor WatStill, it was incredible simply being there. The attention to detail put on the bas-reliefs was amazing.

bas-reliefs at Angkor WatJust walking around and getting lost within Angkor Wat was also a largely positive experience. Perhaps I was there a little earlier than everyone else – or maybe others were caught in the rain and headed back to their hotels or hostels for a change of clothes – but I didn’t bump into too many fellow tourists. Personally, that made the experience even better, because it allowed me to fully immerse myself in the place. And of course, Angkor Wat was incredibly picturesque; I was able to take quite a few photos, and even try out the panorama feature of my camera.

panoramic view of Angkor WatIt was one full morning of exploring Angkor Wat, which I followed with a trip to Angkor National Museum. (Personal tip: It probably would have been better if I went to the museum BEFORE touring the temples of Angkor. That way, you’d have a better understanding of the reasons behind the structures and the design, as well as be able to identify what you’d see. Instead, it became almost a little redundant because I’d already seen everything beforehand; at least I got to learn a few things after the tour.)

Angkor Wat was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Cambodia, and indeed throughout my entire Southeast Asian trip as well. I didn’t want to go into detail as to what I saw or what it was about, as I wouldn’t be able to do it justice at all; sites like Wikipedia and The Angkor Guide do a much better job at it. Instead, I’ll just present more pictures that I took while I was there. You can view the entire set at Flickr.

Angkor Watbas-reliefs at Angkor Watstatues inside Angkor Watinside Angkor WatAngkor Wat