The Wonders of Angkor: Afternoon at Angkor Wat

Me at Angkor Wat

Me at Angkor Wat

The layout of Angkor Wat itself is very symbolic, not surprisingly. It has three levels, representing Hell, Earth and Heaven. Pools abound. And nothing quite prepares you for the scale of the thing – it is enormous!

The first level of the temple has four different series of bas-reliefs, primarily covering a variety of Hindu stories. Sadly, you can see where people keep touching the stone, as it has changed color. (Granted, it can make it a little easier to see the contrasts!) Some of my favorite carvings were of the monkeys.

While that first level may be the most interesting artistically, there are breath-taking views everywhere.

Level three – Heaven – is at the top of the temple, and you can walk around the base of the five towers that make up Angkor Wat’s iconic silhouette. It’s no mean feat going up there, however, and while I made it up just fine, I had some difficulty going down. Let me put this in perspective. One “level” is many stories high, and the stairs, once again, are at about a 90 degree angle.

I made it up and down these crazy high stairs!

I made it up and down these crazy high stairs!

I wasn’t going to let something like a severe fear of heights prevent me from seeing something I’ve wanted to see for years! And thank goodness for my friend’s help – a travel buddy is a must when you need to face your fear.

We headed out of Angkor Wat, admiring more vistas as we left to kill some time with a beer at the foot of Phnom Bakeng, where we planned to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, several hundred other people planned on watching the sunset with us, so I didn’t get a very good photo of the sunset itself. But some friendly young monks posed for me, and I had a great view of Angkor Wat in the setting sun, so it was still worthwhile!

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