Like many travelers, Angkor Wat has been on my travel bucket list for years and yet, I never expected to visit so soon. But of course life sometimes throws curve balls at you and after spending some time in Hong Kong, my husband surprised me with a weekend getaway to Siem Reap. While I took hundreds of photos during our short but sweet 48 hours away, I decided to only feature my Instagram shots for this post because they really reflect how I felt in the moment and boy, did I feel! Here are just 5 of the things that ran through my head (and heart).
1) I felt small but not insignificant
I think it’s easy to feel small when surrounded by nature, especially a big ocean or in this case, a mammoth temple of ruins. Usually, these feelings remind me that I’m powerless in the grand scheme of things and sometimes that leads me to believe that I can’t make a significant difference in the world. Yet, here I was, surrounded by ancient temples alters, squares and sculptures, and I felt like I mattered. More than that, I felt alive. Truly alive. It was as if no amount of air would satisfy my lungs.
2) I felt alone in the best of ways
If you’ve ever visited a castle or a historic monument, you might know what I’m talking about. I’ve always had a big imagination and that imagination really ran wild in Angkor Wat. Even though we were hardly the only tourists temple hopping that weekend, I barely noticed. In the case of Angkor Wat, the entire city is comprised of temples of every size and shape and although many of these sites have seen better days, it was easy to imagine that I lived during this period…at least, it gave me a little insight.
3) I felt wonder
I’d imagine it’s hard to visit Angkor Wat and not feel wonderstruck. My husband’s expressions often mimicked my own. We stood, frozen in place, staring up and all around with out mouths open. As a travel writer and blogger, sometimes I find myself going through the motions even though I’m ashamed to admit it. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with capturing a moment on film rather than enjoying it in that very moment. For whatever reason, I had no trouble disconnecting from technology here. It felt natural. It felt sane.
4) I felt lost and at the same time, I felt found
There were lots of things running through my head before, during and after our Cambodia getaway. Despite my best efforts, I’ve always been a worrier. Usually, these feelings overwhelm me to the point where I can’t think about anything else. As I wandered from temple to temple, I allowed my thoughts to flow freely and for the first time in a long time, they didn’t frighten me. I felt the emotional clarity I so craved. Surrounded by beautiful ruins, hands intertwined, I had everything I could possibly need.
5) I felt Bliss
On a slightly less sappy note, I couldn’t have asked for a better hotel experience than the one we had at the Sarai Resort & Spa. Drinks by the pool, coupled with a free 30-minute foot massage (complimentary for all guests BTW) and refreshing poolside lounge chairs were unexpected surprises. Even though we didn’t see every temple in Angkor Wat, I can’t express how much I needed “down time.” It was so rewarding to come back to the hotel after a jam-packed day and sip a cocktail. We all deserve a little pampering once in a while.