(c) Tita Lilibeth
“If you still believe in magic, you’re subject to enchantment.” – Toba Beta
Captivated, in awe, tranced. Still can’t find the right word to explain what I felt when I was there. Just take a look at my face in the above photo and you’ll definitely agree with me. Thanks to Tita Lilibeth for capturing this “starstruck” moment though kinda awkward for my nganga (jaw-dropping) expression! Angkor Wat, oh, Angkor Wat! Bato ka lang (you’re only stone) but there’s something in you! “Bato lang ka!” – exclaimed Atsi Ann in our vernacular as we talked about our Angkor Wat experience when we got back to our hotel. So, what’s really in you, Angkor Wat?
Angkor Wat is of course, a temple! Wat means “temple” in Siam (old Thailand) and Angkor means “city” in Khmer (Cambodia) so that makes Angkor Wat as the “City of Temples”. Temples with the “s” now ‘coz it is not only Angkor Wat which is nestled in the complex but there are also other small temples, making Angkor as the world’s largest religious monument. Yes it is religious, one which is a big contrast to my faith again. However, something in me was stirred and I just can’t fathom the depth of my thoughts in this inner chamber.
Around 900 years old, Angkor Wat was built for the “god-kings”. It is a representation of Mt. Meru, the counterpart of Greek mythology’s Mt. Olympus in Hindu faith. Oh, so that explains it! If Mt. Olympus is home of the gods, then Angkor must be heaven on earth! I actually walked into the steps of a sacred place as I experienced divine intervention. It was sensing something extraordinary, conjuring any emotion of what might happened in the past right on that spot where I was sitting. Now I call that my “Angkor feels”! But apart from the feeling, apart from the emotion, I started to commune with God. With my God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. Just for a brief moment, His Spirit was on me, speaking to me that kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. Man, in his quest to have a god to look up to, make images and establish religions. But all these have an end. No matter how grand a kingdom is, it always comes to an end. As it is written: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”, says Jesus in Matthew 24:35.
So there I was capturing every corner of the ancient city temple. Point and shoot, point and shoot, that’s just how I do it (as always). But as I was checking my shots when I got home, I realized that I badly need a photography workshop. It’s about time to be serious in this stuff! However, no matter how badass shutterbabe I’d become, I could never get into the lenses what a place had gone through, all through the years. The revelries, the battle cries, the solemnities! I can still actually smell history all over the place, of old, mossy, pungent, rich, kumakausap (speaking right to you). It’s like poking you, telling you stories of the past, making you imagine of knights, princes, princesses, queens, and kings though Angkor Wat is not a palace. It is instead a holy ground where Buddhists come to worship (it transformed into Buddhism from Hinduism), a dedication to the Hindu gods (originally), and a grand display of Khmer architecture. If only I could capture the enchantment, I’d bring it to you but it is only God who can speak right to your heart. So let us take a quick look at the story of Daniel. Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days.” – Daniel 2:27-28.
Hay, Angkor Wat! You are only stone but it seems like you are alive! You’re more than an architecture, more than a piece of art! At first I thought that you’re comparable to Greece’s ruins and Egypt’s archaeology (only that you are affordable). That’s why you have every right to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But you are more than just a site, more than just a tourist attraction! Though you are not nature, a direct work of God’s hands but you are handmade, out from the talent, skills, and knowledge God endowed to His people. You’re a living testimony that there is really God, a God all-knowing, all-powerful, and always present.
Thank you, Lord for Angkor Wat. Thank you for letting me enjoy it with the company of my friends. And thank you for revealing more of Yourself that it is not magic to encounter You but it is the truth! As Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 With all these, Cambodia indeed is the Kingdom of Wonder!