Angkor Wat only recently came onto our list of things we wanted to do with our children. We needed to do a Visa run from Thailand. Airfares were expensive to everywhere we looked at so we narrowed it down to either Laos or Cambodia as these are easily reached overland from Thailand. We weren’t keen on Laos, not that we didn’t like it but because we have been there with the kids already. So the decision was Cambodia. We would bus it over from Bangkok and show the children the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat.
I am so glad we made this decision as it has become the highlight of our trip so far. We ended up buying a three day pass to the ruins for $40 per adult (kids under 12 are free). There was also an option to do a seven day pass but we felt like after three days (and possibly after one!) the kids would be totally templed out.
We had three full on days of exploring. Each day we spent between six and eight hours in the hot, hot, hot, sun. We clambered through ruins, climbed their steep stairways, and explored their dark corridors. Our kids surprised us with their sheer enthusiasm and energy. The only complaints we got were usually a the end of the day when they were so exhausted they just wanted to get back to the hotel to cool off in the pool.
We learned so much from our time at Angkor Wat. Much of what we learned we learned from reading our guidebook as we walked through each ruin. We also hired a guide to take us around the main temple (the one that is actually named Angkor Wat) and learned even more of the history and stories of the Hindu legends that inspired the building of these temples.
Our children were enthralled with the stories of the Angkor God-Kings, their wars, their drive to build bigger and better temples. They asked questions about the Hindu stories and loved to hear about Vishnu and Shiva, Naga and Garuda. They interpreted stories from the ancient carvings that line the walls and giggled at the beautiful half naked Apsara dancers who smiled at us everywhere we looked.
We walked through corridors and wondered what it would have been like to live here in its heyday when its inhabitants were said to number one million. We imagined what it would have looked like in all of its splendour. We touched the stones and felt the energy of this magical place. We marvelled at the power of mother nature in the places where she has not yet been pushed back from her slow assault on the temples.