Angkor Wat
Cambodia South East Asia Travels

The Angkor Wat Regret

We were only 2 days into what was going to be a 4-month-long Southeast Asia trip. After a slow start of trying to figure out SIM cards, handling Riel and Dollars and learning to say ‘no meat’ to the street food vendors, we were ready for the first and most awaited destination of the trip…

ANGKOR WAT!!! The largest religious structure in the world!

We visited the ticketing centre the day before to get our passes so we could catch the sunrise the next day. Thanks to the special offer due to the off-season, we got an additional day with our one-day pass. The plan was to document the entire journey and start creating travel content. And what better place to start doing this than the Angkor Wat?

At 4 am the next day, we were out of our guest house and on our way in a tuk-tuk. The cool early morning breeze added to the shiver of excitement we were already feeling. As the golden hue hit the horizon, I reached for my phone in my pocket to capture the first light hitting the majestic structure of the main temple. Except, it wasn’t there! Or in any of our bags. After a few moments of panic, I realised that I left it in the guesthouse itself. Uff, first mess up.

I tried my best to shake it off. My travel partner had a phone and I had a GoPro – we could still document our experience. After a beautiful sunrise, we headed into the temple complex. It was like a journey into the past with the contrast adjusted to perfection! Structures of dark grey stones stood grand and proud with bright green vegetation complementing its grandeur.

What a sight!

Angkor Wat temples

The next two hours went in awe and in trying to capture this greatness as much as possible. So much so that by the time we were at our third spot (around 9 am), my partner’s phone battery almost ran out! He asked for the power bank. I handed it over. Then he asked for the cable.

Oops… Mess-up number two!

No one around us had one either. If his phone’s battery runs out, forget pictures, we won’t even be able to contact our tuk-tuk driver for our pickups. After an hour of anger, frustration, and considering a hundred ways to sort this, we found a cable that charged his phone at the rate of 1% in 5 minutes – just enough to keep it from dying.

The mood was completely off for the rest of the day. I was sulking more than seeing and we could barely afford to take any pictures.

We hired a two-wheeler for the next day. Geared up with our phones and power banks – double-checked, determined to make up for all the pictures we missed out on the day before. We were the first to enter the most famous Instagram spot, Ta Prohm which became popular after being the backdrop of the movie Tomb Raider.

And boy did we take AMAZING pictures here and for the rest of the day… for people who don’t know photography at least. To this day, of my many trips, those are the best pictures!

Angkor Wat temples

For the next two days, we obsessed over it. Now that we had the visuals, I took my journal to write the Angkor Wat story. And I sat there, staring at the blank page, my mind just as blank. How could I have nothing to say about the place at all? NOTHING.

Four months into the journey, we met a family in Chiang Mai, Thailand, who had visited the Angkor Wat. They went on and on about the history and details. We sat quietly with absolutely nothing to add and in complete regret of what we had done.

I’ve been travelling since I was 19 and never have I left the place with so little knowledge about it. There we were amid this ancient marvel of the lost city and we had ended up treating it like a photo op in the name of documenting! What is the point of great pictures if we have no real understanding of the place and never look beyond a good frame?

It’s ironic that we identify ancient and medieval civilisations as mere Instagram spots rather than from their cultural, political and social history. Although the regret of succumbing to this shallow approach to travel is still fresh in our hearts, it has left us with a burning desire to revisit the Angkor Wat – this time, with all the respect, love and attention it deserves.

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Author

  • Nivetha Kannan

    Nivetha Kannan is a joyous soul who loves to follow the flow of life with a open and curious heart. With 5 years of writing experience and a useless law degree under her belt, she hopes to inspire and encourage people to live a life of simple curiosity. As a passionate writer, dancer and traveller, she loves to tell stories through her words, moves and journeys.

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Nivetha Kannan

Nivetha Kannan is a joyous soul who loves to follow the flow of life with a open and curious heart. With 5 years of writing experience and a useless law degree under her belt, she hopes to inspire and encourage people to live a life of simple curiosity. As a passionate writer, dancer and traveller, she loves to tell stories through her words, moves and journeys.

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18 Comments

  1. Pooja says:

    You make me want to visit these places too, these places are so on my bucket list. Beautifully explained your journey
    Congratulations ✨

    1. Thank you! You should start visiting places!

  2. What a fantastic title to an incredible experience. It’s what attracted me to this article when I first came across this website. Lovely writing and great pictures to accompany them.

    Keep writing – my husband and I are travel-crazy, too.. We can learn from your writings and prepare ourselves.

    1. Thank you! This means a lot! Lot of stories from many destinations I have been to are on the way… stay tuned 🙂

  3. Amutha Kannan says:

    I wish your desires come true asap.
    Well picked words explained the true feeling. And the thirst of traveling seems all over the story.
    Kudos

    1. Akhil harikumar says:

      I guess I am going to go book my ticket now. It’s so well written that I an getting heavy FOMO. waiting for more such writeups to make mu soul happy.

      1. Haha, thanks! I would definitely recommend a visit to Angkor Wat for anyone interested in History.

    2. Thank you! I’m living my desires right now 🙂

  4. R Kannan says:

    Superb

    1. Thank you!

  5. Neha says:

    Just by reading these i so badly want to visit these places, and not to forget the sunrise part, i get it we mess up stuff but I’m glad that didn’t stop you guys from enjoying the sunrise!! And yes sometimes for documentation and other stuff we might forget the main essence that we have to know about the place but just you being there also justifies coz when someone else is telling about it you’ll have a clear visual too!! But frankly loved reading this one!!

    1. Yea absolutely! I did try reading up on the place once I got back and because I had already been there a lot of information made more sense.
      I’m glad you enjoyed reading this!

  6. Shreyashi says:

    Im so intrigued by the way you describe even the simplest of things. I can make out by this, how much you love writing, making new experiences and living your life to the fullest. Waiting for more. Keep writing!!.. You are magic ✨

    1. Thank you so much! Like you said, my driving factor is that I want to live my life to the fullest! ❤️✨

  7. Jahnavi Kumar says:

    Nivetha, the way you’ve expressed each and every moment made me feel like I was a part of it. This felt like my cute little trip to Angkor Wat with all those goofy mess ups. Eagerly waiting for the next trip ❤️😌.

    1. So happy to hear this! ❤️✨

  8. Preksha Jain says:

    Your love for writing is so evident here!!
    The way u explained how the joy of our trips are now more abt getting pictures for insta rather than exploring & knowing more abt the place tht we visit..just love it!!

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed reading it!

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