• Brian D. Hinson

Khmer Ruins--Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Ruins are where you can hear the echos of the footsteps of civilizations long dead. In Cambodia, the stone remnants of the Khmer civilization, built in the 12th century, still astound in their grandeur and artistry.


Angkor Wat is the site that attracts the great herds of tourists, and for good reason: It’s immense and awe-inspiring. But the details, from delightful celestial divas to dark depictions of slavery, are well-worth examining. Although crumbling in spots, the stories of the divine and the earthly are told in the stone. For interpretation, a good guidebook is extremely helpful. next largest site is Angkor Thom. It’s quieter here, a better spot for lollygagging and drinking in the atmosphere and the art.

There are numerous temple sites in the surrounding jungle, some hardly reconstructed with trees clinging to temple walls with their roots. You may need to rent or hire a motorbike to reach these others—well worth it. Some days you might have an entire site to yourself. And this is truly divine for the traveler.


Kathleen and I made this trip back in 2002 with an adventure tour outfit. The only kind of tours that I hire are the ones that take a very hands-off approach and turn you loose to explore on your own quite a bit. That’s how we managed to squeeze in a lot of the smaller sites. Sorry, those photographs will have to wait for another post.

But, I’ll relate a common but humorous anecdote. Kathleen and I hired a taxi to hit another site, and en route, I was enduring a stench from the gas the driver had loosed. It was dreadful, but I refused to roll down my window out of politeness. (Incidentally, I am not so polite if a passenger does me so rude in the Uber.) When we reached the site, Kathleen leapt from the taxi and ran to the restrooms—a tent over holes in the ground. I laughed to myself as I paid the driver. It was my wife the whole time. I tipped the poor gentlemen well for what he had suffered. I had never expected the pretty girl to be guilty, and an important life lesson was learned.

People always ask about traveler safety in Cambodia. Yes, it’s safe. But wherever there is poverty, just don’t be stupid and flash your jewelry about. Just leave it at home and have a fantastic time in this scenic, friendly and wonderfully economical nation.

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