We did a quick visit through Cambodia, stopping only in Siem Reap to see the formidable ancient temples of Angkor. Some prefer to take their time and visit over the course of a few days, but we decided to hustle in and out. Like many ruins, the sheer size of these complexes alone is enough to overwhelm, but consider the details and the history behind them and it becomes quite a humbling experience.
We made the effort to wake up before dawn to catch the sun awakening over the majestic sites, but, alas, the clouds cast a thick shroud of gloom over the skies and thwarted our endeavors. Exploring the grounds was like losing oneself in a labyrinth of deities and mythological beings congregated for the spiritual festival of the century. At Angkor Thom, the only thing breaking them up was overgrown trees whose exposed roots encrusted themselves over, under, and around the intricately carved, laid, and aged sandstone, nature's clever way of erasing history.
The day before, we made our way to Kulen Mountain. I had had this vision of motorbiking through villages across colorful dirt paths, leaving dust in our wake, a throwback to an afternoon shared with dad several years ago. Instead, we were whisked away by a van running at breakneck speed on long stretches of bumpy, muddy, winding roads - something about having to make it past a section that would be closed for oncoming traffic. Once there, a familiar sight was unveiled: a massive, gilded reclining Buddha, fresh lotus flowers accompanied by the unmistakable scent of burning incense, monks clad in bright orange robes, and a grand waterfall, much grander than I remembered.