There is something about ruins such as Angkor Wat, a place that must have once been so majestic and inaccessible to the common people, that evoke feelings of awe and commiseration. Awe because what was once inhabited by the royal family almost a thousand years ago is now open to tourists from all over the world. To be in the presence of the largest religious monument in the planet is a spectacle one does not experience everyday.
Commiseration because what was once so sacred in its time, only frequented by those who worshipped it, has now been reduced to a world heritage site. Mind you, I do not mean this in a negative way. What I mean is that, despite the many stories the tour guides may tell us of what happened within these walls, we can never relive what it was like back in the days. That’s what makes its entire magnificence impossible to encompass with our cameras and its beauty ever elusive.
Angkor means ‘city’ and Wat means ‘temple’. Angkor Wat was the capital city and temple of the Khmer people and was an influential Hindu-Buddhist empire. When my mind wanders, I think of practicing zen buddhism even if I am not buddhist and wonder if this way of life can achieve some sort of self-actualisation. The people of Siem Reap seem to live such a simple and quiet life despite their town being a popular tourist destination.
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