Postcard from Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Morning dew drifts through the empty roads. The Earth is still colored only in shadows. A cool breeze gently winds it’s way through the area. The birds chirp and coo. It's almost that time.
The roar of Mr. Saren’s tuk tuk pierces the noises of the jungle consumed temples. As he weaves through the old dirt roads, the stone craved faces of guard gates whoosh by. They stare into the distance, smiling slightly, hinting they know a secret that I don't know.
The engine suddenly putters, and comes to a slow stop. In the far distance, the chatter of monkeys can be heard. 'We're here,' our newly be found friend says. He points to a bridge, and nods his head in the general direction. 'Find a spot by the pool. It's the prettiest from there.' As my mother and I walk away, Mr. Saren strings a hammock between the poles of a canvas covering the tuk tuk. Guess somebody was still a little tired.
The clouds are turning from a grey to a pale, yellowy, pink. A subtle outline of a tower can just be seen. The old stone bridge spans over a still moat. As my mom and I cross it, we jump over areas where the stone is missing altogether. On the other side, we climb a short staircase, and pass through the first building of the massive complex. A trio of monks wander by. It's just the first of many we would come to see that morning.
We meander down a long stone promenade, marveling at the grandeur of the temple, and surrounding landscape. A few scattered buildings are erected here and there. Looking around, it’s hard to imagine that a place like this temple was abandoned and forgotten to the world for centuries.
My mom and I find a place at the foot of the reflection pool. The Lotus flowers are open, grasping the last of the crisp dawn air. A hazy reflection of the temple can just be seen. The crowd grows larger and larger as the sun begins its daily crawl into the sky.
The first rays of light suddenly burst over the top of the sanctum, sending warmth across the land. The temple itself is silhouetted; above it, a stunning array of reds, yellows, pinks and peaches paint the sky. The aura is spine tingling. A strange warmth and happiness can be felt. As I breathe in a breath of the fresh morning air, I can only wonder what forgotten secrets teem within the walls of mysterious Angkor Wat.
Austin Weihmiller is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program