Climbing that goddamn mountain.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

I’m reminded of these words as I have continued to dwell on the ruins of Angkor. this trek is a week old as of today, and yet it feels as if I’ve been gone for at least a month. A brief stop in Bangkok, but with a delayed sense of anxiety, a rushed kind of mental fidget. Eye on the prize, time for Cambodia!

As a brief side note, I never intended for this writing project to be any kind of guide. I know those are super popular now, and there are some exhaustive ones already out there for damn near everywhere. These are written by people far exceeding my humble talents and budget. I’m more here to share my reactions and observations…out loud as it were.

Back to the temples! Climbing these stairs and exploring the walls of this civilization, I was struck again and again by the theme of time. How it felt that I’d been gone for weeks already, how the year 2017 is rapidly drawing to a close, etc. Then to the passing of time witnessed by these mighty walls and stone based efforts.

Time. Goes. On.

You find yourself here after the cost, and the planning, the logistics and the energy…and despite the Chinese tour groups (deserving of their own post) best efforts at maintaining ridiculously high levels of inane obnoxiousness…it’s eerily quiet. Finding your own corner to observe this massive tree separating a thousand year old wall and burying its stones under root it’s the passage of time and transition that hits you square in the frontal lobe.

All of us, we are born, we grow, mature (hopefully) and then we die. One of the twin pillars of guaranteed factors in this life. Death, and taxes. I believe that travel changes you, leaves it’s mark on you, by thumping you in the forehead and saying

“Hey stupid! Life! It’s happening right fucking now! Right here!”

It forces us to answer that call. You begin to question why you’re working a job you hate, in order to buy shit you don’t need. For me Angkor drove this home again, again, and again. There is the cycle. Do with it what you can.

Life is simply too damn short to be unhappy. That’s what I saw etched into these stones. Grab those dreams with both fucking hands and don’t let go.

Don’t live a life of quiet desperation. It doesn’t take dodging tourists in an abandoned temple 10,000 miles away to realize that there exists a bigger picture in play.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

Thank you.

Holy shit. Angkor Wat.

How do I even begin to write this? As a Bonafide disclaimer, the descriptions, stories, and especially pictures simply will never do this place justice. Let’s get that out of the way first and foremost.

I feel as if I’ve tempted fate almost too many times. I booked a bottom of the barrel cheap flight to Asia with the primary intention of getting to Cambodia to wander these temple ruins. The weather has been scary perfect, and the flight was better than expected.

Angkor is big. It’s monstrously huge. I decided on the two day pass. Back to back full day treks into the temples. The ticket comes in at $62.00 USD. I’ve racked my brain trying to think of anything better or more significant one can purchase for under 70.00. Hell, for plenty of people, that’s a tank of gas. You have two options to get out there from the city of Siem Reap, tuk tuk, or taxi.

Don’t be a wiener.

Tuk tuk all the way.

Load up at breakfast, and get stoked to hit the rickety road! Sunglasses, check. Sunscreen, check. Good pair of shoes, check.

Ready to roll.

Like so much of Asia, Angkor is going to come at you all at once. It can prove profoundly overwhelming, humbling, and inspiring. Look into the past. See what people have been capable of throughout the glorious centuries that preceded our own.

Angkor is a place that defies imagination, as there is no where else on earth quite like it. The city of Siem Reap (gateway to Angkor Wat) has watched its tourism number more than quadruple in just a few short years. Numbers like that begin to change a place, and Cambodia’s fifth largest city is no exception. One of the many reasons I wanted to…err needed to go as soon as possible.

Impossible to attempt to capture, but the real fun once inside the temples, is finding wee odd pieces the hordes of tour groups have ignored.

This post will be a short one as I’m still processing the utmost cultural overload. I’ll put up another post quite soon as I’m still Angkor drunk.

Episode 2 coming up shortly.

Please let know what you think!