Every month or so we select a reader of www.inspiredwomen.co.za who have amazing travel stories/experiences to share. This month Sherise Vos shares her amazing journey to Cambodia.
For history buffs and archeologists, this is the perfect destination. Although, it became rather popular after Angelina Jolie swung through the ruins of Ta Prom during the shooting of Tomb raider.
Armed with sunscreen, a hat and camera we headed to Angkor, a UNESCO world heritage site, sprawled across 400 square kilometers of lush jungle, telling the story of the rise and fall of the Kmer Empire. The artwork carved into each temple provides a historical account of the powerful empire that ruled most of South East Asia for centuries. This was after all the reason why we came to Cambodia.
After managing not to fall out of our Tuk Tuk – which happens to be the best way to get around – we arrived at Angkor Wat, an unmissable stop on our trip. It is the most iconic and largest religious monument ever constructed, and a truly magnificent sight.
Next we made our way to Angkor Tom, beautiful Bayon which is the temple with 216 smiling Buddha faces, Ta Prom, now also named Tomb Raider, and Praeh Khan which is as beautiful as Ta Prom minus the Lara Croft fans.
We soon realized that following the well-trodden tourist route was not a good idea, unless you really like crowds and dodging the occasional selfie stick.
So we got ourselves a local guide who literally took us on the road less travelled. We had the opportunity to see a couple of temples hidden in dense jungle, with no one around but the resident monks who were happy to give us a blessing.
We visited the ruins of another secluded temple, and decided to watch the sunset from there. Surrounded by the rich, but heartbreaking history we had just discovered, it was a truly magical experience.
Temple hunting, as the locals refer to it, does work up an appetite, which is why we frequented ‘Pub street’ (a very original choice of name) and the local night markets in Siem Reap. With temperatures cooling down at nightfall, it was the perfect time to enjoy the bustling streets, sample street food and discover Cambodian delicacies like fried crickets and red ants.
I realized on my way home, that I did not know how to describe the beautiful temple city filled with countless ruins and carvings, each with their own story to tell.
Spiritual. Magical. Stunning. Inspiring. These words simply cannot do it justice.
As one of the most fascinating and mysterious places on earth, Cambodia is still a very poor place. It has suffered the effects of war and the disastrous Khmer Rouge for years. Angkor Wat is its jewel, glorious and majestic, and the Khmer people are justly proud of it.