Ancient Ruins of Angkor
As the sun slowly crept up over the lotus-blossom towers of Angkor Wat, I thought I would never see anything more mind-blowingly beautiful. But upon climbing the stairs to enter the 12th century temple, I realized that every inch of its vast structure is just as awe-inspiring as the backdrop it creates across the pale orange morning.
Taking in the enormity of the largest religious monument in the world, it was hard to wrap our heads around the architectural wonders the ancients accomplished using only elephants and ropes & pulleys. And as if that wasn't impressive enough, virtually every surface of the entire temple is covered in intricate wall carvings depicting Hindu deities and extensive designs that must've taken years to complete.
We tried our best to avoid the crowds, pretending the temple was our own private palace to rule and run about freely. It was easy to get into character as ancient explorers with the harem-style pants we picked up at the local night market.
Although we could've spent the whole day at Angkor Wat alone, we tore ourselves away to discover the surrounding ruins that once made up the social and religious center of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries. It's hard to cover it all in one day as there are still over 1,000 temples scattered throughout the area ~ some that have decayed to mere piles of rubble and others that stand as majestically as when they were first built a thousand years ago.
To escape the heat of the open, forested farmland that Angkor rests on, we slipped inside the walls of Bayon Temple, whose famous stone faces looked as though they might open their mouths at any moment to share what they've seen over their centuries of existence.
We ended our day amidst the coiling roots of the sky-high trees that have slithered their way over the foundation of Ta Prohm to the point that they are now it's most distinctive feature.