CAMBODIA....the land of the great, magnificent temples and heart of steel of its people. And the land of the massacred millions. There is no place on earth quite like Cambodia. In the centre of worldwide reverence for all its glory and greatness of the past that are evident in the mighty Angkor Wat that stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, lies a darkened past that is just too bitter to swallow, too painful to forget and too sad to remember - the Killing Fields where millions died in the brutal hands of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.
If you're a sentimental person at heart, Cambodia will swallow all of your emotions and make you reflect on the many things that may have made you unhappy - an argument with loved ones, evil boss, nasty neighbor, cheating partner, rude waitress, or your sunken fruit cake. It will stir your thoughts and make your tolerance for pain higher than it was before as you walk down the streets and see a limbless victim of a landmine blast, or as you get mobbed by a crowd of thin and dirty-looking kids in shabby, torn clothes age 7 or younger pulling at your clothes, tailing and begging you to enter a purchase transaction for a handmade craft for US$1.
If you're on a mission to seek spiritual enhancement, Cambodia will fulfill that void in you and help you find calmness if you go to the right places.
If you're just there for fun, well, it won't be much of a fun as you will probably return to the comforts of your plush bed and pillows vowing to never waste money again for a place that's dusty, undeveloped, poor and no shopping but just boring temples to see.
If you're there for something else on the twisted side preying on the innocent, desperate and poor, well, let me remind you that your karma will come back to haunt you and it is your only possession that follows you after death in this life.
Mention Cambodia, one immediately identifies it with its national treasure, Angkor Wat.
Built during the early years of the 12th century by Suryavaram II, it honors the Hindu god Vishnu and is a symbolic representation of Hindu cosmology. Consisting of an enormous temple symbolizing the mythic Mt. Meru, its five inter-nested rectangular walls and moats represent chains of mountains and the cosmic ocean. The short dimensions of the vast compound are precisely aligned along a north-south axis, while the east-west axis has been deliberately diverted 0.75 degrees south of east and north of west, seemingly in order to give observers a three day anticipation of the spring equinox. (Info from www.sacredsites.com)
These are pictures of the world famous, magnificent and majestic colossal temple, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, taken while awaiting for sunrise at around 5.30am.
Be sure to get there early by booking a tuk-tuk (a local motor-trishaw) the day before. I made this trip (my 1st) there last year (please disregard the wrong year setting in the photos as it should be 2008) with a good friend and we were elated to capture these stunning views. You can see sunrise almost everywhere, but seeing it over Angkor, it brings a whole different meaning to it.
Angkor Wat represents one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. Today, it is one of the most visited historical sites in the world.