“Experience life in all possible ways —

good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light,
summer-winter. Experience all the dualities.
Don’t be afraid of experience, because
the more experience you have, the more
mature you become.” – Osho

Last Christmas I had a chance to visit Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is known in Hinduism to be the city of gods, the oldest temple ever built that is still standing today. Amazed by that, we went and saw this magnificent sight. What was even better is, the sunrise was meant to be one of the best in the world. The sky turns purple as the sun rises! How rare is that? This was one experience I definitely wanted to witness. Sadly, no such luck. I collapsed that every morning while we were there waiting for the sun to bless us with its radiance and bring this violet color to the glorious grayish sky.

With that experience in mind, we decided to do this again this Christmas. So off we went to Angkor Wat. I ensured I had my breakfast with me, snacks, water, shawl etc. I had everything set for the day. Should I say I was adamant that I was going to see this purple sunrise I had heard so much about it. But guess what, it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t faint this time. I was fine but the sky didn’t turn purple or pink or anything. The sun rose like it usually does in the rest of the world and it was pretty but not what I had been waiting for. Disappointed again. We decided to get our stuff and walk around the temples.

Did I mention as we left a monkey tried to attack me? Remember how I said I was all prepared, so I had food and everything in a shopping bag? There were many monkeys that morning (they must know that the sunrise is so popular and it becomes like a picnic so people throw away their leftovers) and these monkeys were rummaging through the bins for food. I was intrigued and was just observing. I know silly things intrigue me. I was lost in awe by what they were doing. Suddenly I felt a hand grab me. I leaped up only to see a monkey behind me, who had grabbed my shopping bag and now all the contents were on the floor. I screamed and then stood there frozen. I laughed at what I thought was so amusing. A guard quickly came to my rescue and together we laughed at the guile of this monkey.

My farewell to Angkor Wat was with this very peculiar experience. Talk about expectations. Because I had fallen ill for 4 days, there were so many more temples to see which I couldn’t. On the day we were departing, I felt a lot better and we decided to go see the temples my husband said I would really like. So off we went. By now, my experiences with temples in Angkor Wat had not been spectacular. Last Christmas, I collapsed. People around and many people, including my husband, thought I was dead. This Christmas, no purple sunrise then a monkey tried to take my food even though it gave me the giggles in return. I had no expectations of being awestruck. I also had a fear, fear that I would get sick given how my tummy was just recovering. Fear of what if I collapse again.

Because I had days of being bed-bound, I had the chance to read up about Angkor Wat and its history. As I was getting ready for this final visit of my trip, I had a chat with Lord Vishnu (who this temple was dedicated to) and told him what I’ve experienced in the past when visiting and how my husband tells me how amazing it is. I also told him about my fears of what could go wrong when I got there and at the end I said, “I want you to give me the strength to be healthy today so I can see what I am to see, experience what I am to experience and truly appreciate Angkor Wat for what it stands for. ” With that we left.

We reached Banteay Kdei at 7.15am and the gate doesn’t open till 7.30am so I decided to look at the gate. I know it sounds crazy but these aren’t normal gates. There are carvings everywhere of deities. I looked at it and was blown away at its intricacies. But more than anything I was stunned at the energy I could feel. Before I knew it, I was tearing. I was looking at this one beautiful devata, and I felt like she was there – alive. For that moment, time stood still. I was captivated by the energy and beauty of what was in front of me. After a few minutes, I realized there was so much more to see but because it was still early we went for a walk. We walked across to the stalls and I bought some alibaba pants. I can never have enough of them. Then we sat on the rocks (which I’m sure are the relics) that were overlooking the waters. Calmness personified the view.

At 7.30am we went in and I was transported to another time. I felt different from all the other times I have been to any of the other temples in Angkor Wat. I felt connected, a sense of calmness, but also vitalized. The visit was one that I will never forget.

This trip got me more into appreciating Hinduism given the history of Angkor Wat. But more than that, it got me reading more about life and death. You may wonder why life and death. Angkor Wat (the temple) for centuries was covered in the wild forest of Angkor Wat (the city) so for most people, it was death but really it was alive. It may not look like what it used to but the heart of what the people had put in it can still be felt.

I leave you with this thought: when you connect with life, get lost in the moment of what is, then you are truly living because living is being in the moment, being present and really connecting with that experience. When you do that, time and space vanishes. That’s the beauty of living.

“Take hold of your own life.
See that the whole existence is celebrating.
These trees are not serious, these birds are not serious.
The rivers and the oceans are wild,
and everywhere there is fun,
everywhere there is joy and delight.
Watch existence,
listen to the existence and become part of it.” ― Osho