I am too close to my trip to Angkor Wat to say anything of substance other than this:

1. There is value in visiting a place of scale when coming up to a major life transition. I know that going to Angkor Wat might not work for everyone, but there are plenty of options. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, different ruins around Europe, and if you are blessed, yes, come to Angkor Wat. Being in real ruins (and not the metaphorical ones we can make our lives to be) or some where so VAST words escape helps to put one’s life in a healthy perspective.

2. Um, Ankgor Wat has blown all sense of scale OUT. THE. WINDOW. Seriously.

Let me give you a short run down on Angkor Wat and then on to some pictures. Angkor Wat is technically one gigantic temple (first Hindu, started in the 1100’s and then became Buddhist), but it has become synonymous for the area and the many, many wats/temples.  Riddle me this, when it was excavated, archaeologists found no signs of human dwellings, utensils, weapons, or other signs of human life.

Chunmei and I did two days of touring. On the first day we did the short loop and saw about seven wats. On the second day we got up before dawn to see the sunrise and then did the long loop, also seeing around seven wats. And there were more we could have seen, as in plenty.

Though not technically Angkor Wat, this give an over arching view

Though not technically Angkor Wat, this gives an over arching view

This is at Angkor Wat and is deceptively devoid of people

This is at Angkor Wat and is deceptively devoid of people

At Angkor Wat there are three levels: hell, earth, and heaven. The size of the stairs up to hell are large, smaller ones up to earth, and smallest to heaven. While easy to grasp, it just made me sad to think of all the people striving to get up to heaven when there is Someone ready and willing to carry them up there on his scarred feet.

Between earth and heaven with Chunmei

Between ‘hell’ and ‘earth’ with Chunmei. We are on a wooden staircase that’s been made larger then the original (and now ruined) staircase

Many statutes had their heads cut off by the Khmer Rouge and sold on the black market

Many statutes had their heads cut off by the Khmer Rouge and sold on the black market

You can see why this was an ideal place to be reflective

You can see why this was an ideal place to be reflective

One wat had untold amount of these "face pillars" -- each side had a face

One wat had untold amount of these “face pillars” — each side had a face
Thanks for the suggestions to see it at sunrise!

Thanks for the suggestions to see it at sunrise!


It was staggering to consider the amount of material used

It was staggering to consider the amount of material used

At one stop our Tuk-Tuk driver dropped us off and told us to walk to the right. We walked for a bit and came up to a stone gateway and thought “that’s it?!” having grown accustomed to IMPRESSIVE structures. But we passed on through it and kept walking through the woods. In the distance we saw this …

Had C.S. Lewis been to Angkor Wat?

Had C.S. Lewis been to Angkor Wat?

We became Lucy, Susan, Peter and Edmund when they stumbled on the ruins of Cair Paravel in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. If you kept walking straight and went through that small gate you’d enter on arm of a gigantic “+” with a stupa in the middle, where the two arms cross. From the doorway, the stuppa is a good eight minute walk.

And for the last photo in this brief tour …

This is at one of the so-called smaller wats

This is at one of the so-called smaller wats

This place, I tell you, it’s messed with my sense of scale from amount of languages heard, to size of one temple, to the number of temples, to the number of stairs climbed in day. Thanks for your prayers as the next leg has begun — being in Chiang Mai, Thailand for two weeks, complete with many tears, goodbyes, and jolly remembering.


Leave A Comment

  1. LeAnne January 28, 2013 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Tickled pink to read this! One, that you had such an amazing trip! Two, I’m now really pumped up for our trip to Siem Reap after Thailand!

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      Amy January 28, 2013 at 10:18 am - Reply

      Oh you will!! I highly, highly recommend it!

  2. Erin H January 28, 2013 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I just realized 10 years ago this very minth I too was completely (unprepared for) sideswiped and emotionally & spiritually enamored by Cambodia when 4 of us took looooong trains from Beijing to Vietnam, Cambodia & en route to mid-year in Thailand. Thank you for attempting to put into words the way that place & people tug at the heart. Reminds me of how I so quickly decided tomove there upon finishing my MA & work in the social justice arena. Alas, I met a Mexican man that semester…and Father led my life down a much different path than I would have written but OH SO GOOD. And now in smalltown USA I am applying my intercultural, ministry, social justice, ESL & bilingual skills both in my household & community daily. WOW. Am I in Kansas for reals? Here’s to your next steps and the “mysterious but intimately designed gor you plans” He has prepared in advance!

    • Connie Gibson January 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      This was wonderful to read and see with photos. I realize that the pictures probably don’t do it justice but for someone who probably won’t make it there, I appreciate your sharing this with your readers with me being one of them. Thank you Amy. Love, Connie

  3. Mark Allman January 29, 2013 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing all of those pictures and about your trip. I wonder sometimes in heaven is God will say do you want to see how this place looked in all its splendor? Maybe we will get to see that one day.

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      Amy January 29, 2013 at 8:11 am - Reply

      I have wondered similar things! I’m not good at picturing things in my mind (like what a room will look like redone) — there was one room where there were so many holes in the walls that had once held diamonds! I’d love to see what Angkor Wat would have looked like!

  4. Karin P January 29, 2013 at 4:05 am - Reply


    This is a super-awesome post. :) Thank you for the wonderful vicarious traveling. ♥


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      Amy January 29, 2013 at 8:12 am - Reply

      and I **LIKE** back that you like traveling! Isn’t the world a marvelous place?

  5. Margaret Feinberg January 29, 2013 at 4:23 am - Reply

    Amy, these pictures are incredible!

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      Amy January 29, 2013 at 8:11 am - Reply

      Aren’t they?! I feel so blessed to have visited!

  6. Bobbye January 30, 2013 at 12:25 am - Reply

    I have never envied anyone, but I do envy you this trip. Thanks for the pictures.

  7. JoDee January 30, 2013 at 1:14 am - Reply

    I can so relate as I remember well my days of wandering around Angor and sweating like no tomorrow! I think we did a four day tour and I kept waiting to slip down those completely vertical staircases and break my neck. I have a photo of one of the doorways that was so small I filled the entire thing and was even bent at the knees a bit. Then you find things so massive it is hard to imagine how they could have possibly moved such enormous pieces of rock and stone…and yet all in vain as they were seeking their own salvation. On another note, I am sad that I am not in CM to say good-bye to you there…but will certainly look forward to saying hello to you in my new place someday soon!!! :) Blessings to you as you say good-bye to a place you have loved well.

  8. Bethany ~ twoOregonians February 15, 2013 at 7:54 am - Reply

    I loved reading your description of experiencing the scale and atmosphere at the Angkor Complex! My husband and I just visited in October, and I’m working right now on putting together photos to share on my blog. Your insight about visiting places that mess with sense of scale is so poignant. I’m a landscape architect (and a Christian!), and there is possibility for such profound revelation when we experience our size in relationship to the natural and built world. You’ve given me some good food for thought as I reflect on my own visit… Thanks again!

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      Amy February 15, 2013 at 8:00 am - Reply

      Bethany, how fun to hear from others who have visited Angkor as well! Let me know when you get your post up, I’d love to see your photos.

  9. […] Angkor Wat in the cool of the day… Beat the heat, beat the crowds, feel the size and scale… Choice A: a mixed-review balloon ride above Angkor Wat, or Choice B: all alone in the ancient courtyards? We’re glad we went with the second option. Side Note: A post I appreciated from Amy at The Messy Middle: How Angkor Wat Messed with my Sense of Scale […]

  10. […] I left China I visited the ancient ruins of Ankor Wat. Afterwards I recommended anyone going through a significant life transition visit a place so much […]

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