For Day 17 of #BEDM, I’ve chosen to use the topic proposed here – Wanderlust/ Travel
I’ve always wanted to travel solo. Although I did have the opportunities when it was work-related, travelling solo for pleasure just never worked out. Until 2014.
For my birthday that year, I traveled to Siem Reap with the main purpose of exploring the temples at Angkor. I’d arrived the day before my birthday to settle in to the lovely hotel a friend found for me online and to gauge my surroundings.
The day of my birthday, I was up at 630 as the tour guide I’d booked would meet me at my hotel at 7am to start the tour. It was a warm day. Tuk tuk was the obvious mode of transportation as these versatile motor rickshaw type vehicles could weave in and out of traffic much too easily. I thought we were early but there were already busloads of tourists at the entrance to the Angkor temple complex.
The highlight of my excursion though was when the guide brought me to Phimeanakas, a temple which is located inside the walled enclosure of the Royal Palace of Angkor Thom. It was not the largest of the temples that I’d seen and was one of the most run down but somehow, I was drawn to it. The guide told me that according to legend, the kings of the time visited the temple every night to sleep with a woman who’s actually a Naga (serpent, snake, etc…). If the Naga did not show up, this meant that the kings days were numbered aka not good.
I remember walking up the crumbling steps to the top, using my hands and knees and when I arrived, I caught the smell of incense. I was alone at the temple and my heart started beating quicker. I peered around a fallen column and saw that there was incense being burnt by an old lady who greeted tourists and handed out blessed yellow strings to be tied around one’s wrists, in exchange for a small donation. Phew, no Naga.
It was truly special to be able to spend my birthday amongst such historical ruins. Like the yellow string around my left wrist, I felt blessed.