Off The Path Adventure in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Off The Path Adventure in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Off The Path Adventure in Angkor Wat, Cambodia
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Off The Path Adventure in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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Like many people, I dreamt of visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia to see the Khmer temples of Angkor Wat. Ever since I saw the movie Tomb Raider, the temples of Angkor quickly became my romanticized destination and I vowed to visit it. In October of 2013, after traveling through Taiwan and Thailand with my friends, I decided to make a quick side trip out to Siem Reap by myself. There is no place like Angkor Wat, to have the greatest off the path adventure, so I jumped right in.

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“Without the need to follow a set schedule or to accommodate the needs of a larger group, this was my nirvana…”

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On many of my prior trips, I preferred the freedom that comes with solo travel and the excitement of getting lost in an unknown land. Rarely do I hire tour guides. Instead, I prefer to wander around on my own pace, take in the local sights and let my eyes do the exploring around me. Without the need to follow a set schedule or to accommodate the needs of a larger group, this was my nirvana. For me, solo travel was the only way I wanted to experience Ta Prohm, a temple within Angkor Wat. That was my intention until I arrived.

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Off The Path Adventure in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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With my trusty Nikon camera in tow, I arrived at the ancient ruins in Angkor. Instantaneously, a local approached me and beckoned me to follow him. Traveling in Southeast Asia for the last two weeks, I had become numb to hawkers and touts, learning to completely zone them out. But for some reason, I decided to accept his offer. It was easily the best decision I could have made on the entire trip.

He led me through me through mazes of tiny corridors and rubble, stopping me at every photo opportunity and pointing out the best angles for amazing shots. He led me through small crevices and into places that regular tour groups don’t go through. With my heart pounding, I felt like an explorer, experiencing things for the very first time and eagerly taking it all in. As we climbed out of the backside of the temple, the guide told me to climb onto the top of the crumbled ruins to get a magnificent view of Ta Proh. I felt like Angelina Jolie from Tomb Raider; minus the nice body, hot shorts and blazing guns. But otherwise, I can now call myself a Tomb Raider!

Off The Path Adventure in Angkor Wat, CambodiaThe vantage point from the top was absolutely stunning. Getting to see the entirety of the famous Ta Prohm from a view where only a handful can say they have experienced is a once in a lifetime opportunity. After snapping a few photos, I climbed back down and the guide led me back to the center of the temple where the majority of tourists were.

Could I have seen all this on my own without hiring a guide? Sure. But would I been able to safely navigate the complex maze of corridors without his guidance? No. With so many jutting stones and slippery steps, I didn’t know if it was safe or not or if regular tourists were even allowed to enter those areas. While I don’t condone trespassing, the experience was memorable. Lastly, was it worth the $10 USD? Absolutely! The photos and memories I was able to capture was worth every penny, and more…

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andy blake Off The Path Adventure in Angkor Wat, CambodiaAndy Blake is the co-founder of Tripque.com, an online travel guide that writes down his traveling experiences. He is a self-taught photographer from San Francisco, Bay Area. Andy quit his job to chase his passion as a jetsetter and full-time photographer specializing in concert, glamour, fashion and landscape. You can also follow Andy on Twitter and Instagram.
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