Sunrise and evening at Angkor Wat

“Timeless yet timeworn, grand but intimate, oblivious to the passing centuries even as the jungle devours its huge stone walls, Angkor Wat and the scores of temples that surround it hint at eternity, only to remind us that nothing is eternal.” – Seth Mydans, NYT

Sunrise and Evening at Angkor 1

Angkor Wat (nickname City of Temples).
A 12th century temple built by King Suryavarman II. The height of classical Khmer architecture. A symbol of Cambodia, appearing on her national flag.

Amazing.
Extensive bas-reliefs and devatas (divine nymphs; celestial dancing girls) adorning its wall. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers.

Astonishing.
Forming a rectangle area of about 1,500 by 1,300 metres, covers an area – including its 190 metre wide moats – of nearly 200 hectares. The quincunx of towers rising 65 m from the ground. Water moat surrounding the temple has a perimeter of 5.5 km.

Unmissable.
Take several days. If you only have one day, it’s a must to visit Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

Angkor Temple Map

Angkor Temple map. Credit to Tourism Cambodia

We stayed at Mekong Angkor Palace (RM80 for a room inclusive of air-conditioning, wifi, hot shower, complimentary breakfast and pickup from bus station) and hired Mr. San Borin as our tuk-tuk driver who customised the day tour for us. San Borin’s price of $20 for a day was a steal for the four of us. You may contact him here, according to him the website was setup by a passenger who admires his friendly service.

Sunrise and Evening at Angkor 2

The best time to visit Angkor Wat is perhaps sunrise, the sun rises over the ancient temple.

He picked us before dawn, at 5 a.m., to shuttle us to the entry gate to buy the 1-Day ticket ($20) and came prepared with a cooler filled with bottles of ice-cold water to keep us hydrated and wet tissue.

Sunrise and Evening at Angkor 3

The Naga (a semi-deity, a serpent-god of the waters, depicted with several heads) greeted us at the entrance.

Pick up any guide book, read any online resources, any visitors recommendation on Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor, and your head will be spinning. Thankfully San Borin suggested us a route for us to conquer the significant sites and enjoy our day in Angkor.

The Angkor Wat Temple Complex for Sunrise
* Breakfast and a cup of Cambodian coffee

The “Great City” of Angkor Thom for Morning
(including Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Leper King, Terrace of Elephants, and Preah Palilay)
* Water, cap, small change for donations

Thommanon, Chao Say Tevada, and Ta Prohm for the Afternoon
* Lunch break and beer, water

Angkor Wat again for the Evening
* Plastic raincoat and umbrella

shutterstock_110917883

Aerial view of Angkor Wat, showing the moat and causeway and the central tower surrounded by four smaller towers. Credit to Shutterstock @ Alexey Stiop.

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In the rear view mirror of 2013

Most would have written a good old post of the memories of 2013 on the New Year’s Eve by now, but I was greeted with fever on the day itself thus just spending the hours before midnight struck snuggling in bed.

It’s funny how time passes and how we choose to keep track.

In 2013, most of the 365 days passed at a much different tempo. While life in Kuala Lumpur has been a constant records of highs and lows, my pilgrimage plan to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day was put off for some personal reasons, but overall life was great. Jaunts east and west in Peninsular Malaysia in search for islands and sandy beaches from the Straits of Malacca to the beautiful South China Sea. Managed to realise my travel plans to Indochina where tales and legends live.

In 2013, a friend invited me to join the church choir team which I accepted with an open heart. It has been a year in the choir and I have so much to gain than to lose, our choir master is a great teacher. In a year my singing has improved considerably and was given the opportunity to sing the gospel acclamation in mass. Last month, we sang for the Christmas mass and the reception was welcoming.

Christmas Choir

Family. We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

No man is an island. “Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods”, said the philosopher Aristotle. We live in a world where many of us have a lot of friends on Facebook or Twitter but yet we have lost human connection. Indeed I am truly thankful that I have my family and friends who are ever supportive and understanding, and fun to be with. But if you ask me personally, I prefer having few friends around rather than hanging out with a big bunch of friends. Having few friends allows me to put more value into each of those relationships. Also I’m never stuck having to juggle plans with multiple people. Just ask me out for coffee, I’m more than gladly to show up.

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Finding balance

Just read Robin Sharma’s The Greatness Guide, currently on Chapter 32 “Getting What You Want While Loving What You Have”.

For quite some time now I have been struggling with my personal philosophy – of finding balance. Balance between being contented with what I have and the striving to achieve more. Balance between living in the present and pushing for the future. Balance between the now and the then. The constant struggle to achieve a balance between the two extending pans of the scale is not easy.

I’ve been told by some gurus (from self-help books) that we need to enjoy the moment and appreciate what we have. And that constantly striving for more is unhealthy and is the primary source of discontentment. Others also said to me (through self-help books) that as human beings we were built to push beyond our comfort zones and reach for something higher, something greater. And that we ought not to complacent with what we already have.

“I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not yet ended.” – Nelson Mandela

The late Nelson Mandela has this to say in his reflection, “After climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not yet ended.”

To me, Mandela suggest truly what we call balance. Enjoy the view, savour the moment, be grateful that I have come this far in this life journey and the gifts and grace that I’ve received. And then be reminded of my responsibilities as a citizen, a community, a son, a brother. Look back at the lemons life has presented but linger not on past failure nor success for this journey has not yet ended. Most of all not to lose sight of that goal – to make more of this life.

I’m grateful that this chapter serves as a self-reminder in my struggle to find a balance. Love what I have, go for what I want. Enjoy the climb up the mountain but never take my eyes off the summit.