After making our way through China and Vietnam, we landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the gateway to Angkor and the mystical Khmer ruins. We ensconced ourselves at La Résidence d’Angkor, an intimate hotel that felt like an immensely glamorous tropical campout, as it might have been circa 1910. White mosquito nets swept over our bed and enormous palm fronds enveloped us from every direction, as if we were sleeping in a Swiss Family Robinson-style treehouse. Lush vegetation exploded out of every crevice, and a friendly pack of geckos guarded our balcony by night. |BELOW| Apsara dancers, encountered one evening over dinner Aside from strolls to the local market, we spent our days exploring the ancient temples decaying quietly across the surrounding countryside, majestic totems of the ancients’ religious veneration. Incredibly, most were built between the 9th and 13th centuries, and their crumbling but largely still-standing, moss-covered remains offer a glimpse into the sacred skeleton of what was once the social and religious center of the Khmer Empire. The humidity of the day disappears as you walk through the darkened halls of the temples, that steaming heat replaced with cool quietude, a mood that inspires as heavy a sense of reverence today as it must have a millenia ago. The intricate carvings on the stone combined with the incredible patina lent by centuries of moss and rot collide to create the most painterly palette imaginable. |ABOVE| nature runs amok at Ta Prohm temple |BELOW| the mysterious faces of the Bayon Temple Like a sort of Southeast Asian Versailles, many of these structures were built upon impressive acreage, surrounded by heavenly meadows and enormous moats. As the afternoon sun beats down, it’s impossible to resist the tantalizing retreat of a boat ride through the quiet countryside. We wore the clothes and shoes we’d had made in Hoi An, our own interpretations of the Vietnamese locals’ ubiquitous style of pajama dressing. As in that dear little town, fragrant offerings burned wherever we turned. Up to that point, we’d visited cities large and small, but nothing could compare to the profound sight of late afternoon light trickling through the overgrown stone walls of an incense-filled Cambodian temple, still nobly, calmly standing its ground as the world around it hurls furiously forward. |PHOTOGRAPHY| by Zachary Lynd and Kelly Framel |CLICK HERE| for more adventures!