Woke up at 4:30 to go see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Not much of a sunrise to be seen but a beautiful and massive temple took its place. At first, I was unimpressed and disappointed by what I came to see. Not until I was taken to other areas of this place did I realize how excruciatingly lovely it was.
Because this has been in my drafts for a while, it’s time to publicize this post. Also, it’s my 100th post. Well, not really since this post was supposed to be posted already. Guess it was meant to be, if that is true. Anyhow, I’m glad Angkor Wat is my 100th post, this day was quite a day out of all the days on my travels this summer.
I remember this day being one of the lows for me. It was a low because I was physically drained. I had a fever and a restless sleep. Because of my exhaustion, I kind of made the memory unappealing. On the other hand, I found silence here and the silence was something I discovered to be what I needed. This was the first time I really let the silence become part of the experience. I found it interesting that I was able to find silence in the most packed place among all the sites we visited. We came with the intention of finding that peace before the sunrise and the giant stream of tourists that will flood the temple. When we came, about a few hundred people beat us to it. Well, it didn’t really matter to me because my exhaustion allowed me to hone into my mind and into my surroundings. I sat at one corner of the temple by myself and just looked at the place and rested. It was weird to see the tourists walking around this place, like it was a museum. And I was sitting there, watching them as they examine the place.
All I could do was imagine the place empty, with a few monks living here. In my imagination, I saw them taking pride in this place and also being annoyed by how massive it is because they would have to walk so far and clean so much. I imagined each monk having their own space in their temple where they would sit and do whatever it is that monks should do. I imagined the monks having chats and playing with one another. I imagined lay people entering these temples on a daily basis to help these monks and pray for a better life or whatever hardships they have in their lives to ease. I imagined a community. It made the temple seem more magnificent and interesting this way. Honestly speaking, I got bored of the place quite quickly and my impression was that everything seemed to be the same. When I say the same, I mean architecturally.
Luckily our Tuk Tuk driver, Mr. Bun drove us and made us see more or my impression would have been, “this is it”. Contrary to my quickly and mistaken belief, Angkor Wat is not “this is it.” There is way more to be seen. Even though it all blends into the same sight after a while, it is just amazing to think about how it was built and how it was a home to actual people. It is a sacred place and a sanctuary. As tourists, we take pictures and amazement spill out of our eyes and often only last as long as we see it. I realized that now, I’m still amazed and just thinking about how this place came about and why it was created, it really amazes me more to imagine that life back then was simple and people were just as innovative and intelligent as they are now. I just wonder if they were happier that way.
The silence I was able to find here allowed my mind to produce many thoughts. One of which I shared with my friends and remember now. I remember thinking, “it’s okay if I die today”. I don’t really know why I thought that that day and I’m glad I shared it with my friends because at least one of them thought the same way. Usually when I share this, people give me a weird look and think I’m suicidal. This thought often comes across my mind because sometimes I feel like I have lived enough and I am happy seeing what I have been able to see. I feel like this thought really resonate with the feeling I got from this temple. This spiritual place allowed many people to find themselves, to find their peace, to find their fear and stay with it, to find that life is always going to be okay even if it ends.
Well, I don’t want to sound morbid or suicidal, I’m definitely not. So to end on a positive note, I’m so glad I went to Cambodia and got to experience this wondrous heritage site. I hope one day I can come back and the next time, physical exhaustion won’t come along and instead I get to experience the temple with much more enthusiasm and knowledge.
Happy hundredth post Lynn! Keep staying mindful and let your heart be as open as your mind.