I got the three day pass to that little temple complex in Cambodia, you know the one. The UNESCO World Heritage Site? Angkor Wat? Oh yeah, that one.
The great thing about Angkor Wat—besides the architectural beauty of the temples and the natural splendor of the Cambodian jungle, of course—is that it doesn’t really matter what you look like because you will be a mess of dripping sweat in about two minutes.
I thought that the only thing to keep in mind when getting dressed for a day of temple touring was whether or not my knees and shoulders were covered (modesty dress code, for respect and deference and all that good stuff). However, not all loose-fitting, modest clothing is created equal when it comes to extreme heat in the humid jungle. I had a steep outfit learning curve during my three days of temples. Please learn from my (uncomfortable) mistakes and find some inspiration in the ridiculous photos below.
I purchased all of the skirts and pants at the market in Siem Reap, while the shirts came with me from home. The shoes I brought with me as well.
My brief advice to men: wear clothes? The same modesty standards apply to you, but that pretty much just means you should wear whatever you would normally wear in that temperature. And, as with everywhere else, no speedos please. You’ll be fine. Follow any Rick Steves packing list, just zip off the bottom your convertible trousers. Bing, bang, boom.
Day 1: Disaster
Ahhhhh the day of my ill-fated, heat-induced panic attack at the end of a long, hot afternoon. I credit the fact that I started crying and mildly hyperventilating in public to my poorly chosen ensemble.
The good things: loose fitting pants, light colored shirt, Chacos (how do I love thee)
The bad things: Black. No black. Black is bad, very very bad. The pants also were tight at the ankles, so I could never escape fabric touching my legs. While they are extremely comfortable, they are by no means 100 percent cotton. So that’s a negative. And although my shirt was white and loose, it was actually very heavy material. Instead of promoting a nice breeze, it clung weightily to me all day.
Outfit grade: F
Day 2: Getting Better
One word: Chafing. That’s all you really need to know about wearing a skirt all day while walking around in the heat and humidity. The breeze was very nice though, and I was much more comfortable when I was sitting. It was a bit restrictive when climbing up crazy stairs at the temples, but I managed just fine.
The good thing was my shirt, which was a lot lighter than the one from the day before. However, it left a lot of my chest and back exposed to the sun. I draped a scarf over my shoulders for a bit, and that helped. I didn’t have a lot of T-shirts with me, which is the main reason I wore it two days in a row. When I return, I will be keeping sun protection in mind and bringing more loose-fitting clothing with sleeves.
Outfit Grade: B-
Day 3: Why Wasn’t This Day 1?
This final day, I hit the jackpot. I bought my new favorite pants and my life changed forever. They’re a traditional style of Cambodian wrap pants, of course mass-produced for tourists. They tie at the front and the back, but are open at the sides to let in a nice breeze while preventing chafing. Cause they’re pants. I fully intend to make my own in a solid color and wear them all the time this summer.
They give great freedom of movement, are light and airy, and just generally feel stylish and flattering. The only drawback is that they can flow open at the sides in a breeze or when walking up steep stairs, leaving me a bit more exposed than I necessarily wanted to be in a temple. Fine for the beach, though. I just held them closed.
Same shirt, so same drawbacks as day 2, with the added bonus of smelling like I’d spent all day sweating in it already (which I had).
Outfit Grade: A-
Hi! This is part three in my month of March daily blogging. Click here to see yesterday’s post, a guide to arriving in Cambodia through the Phnom Penh airport, click here. To join the betting pool on how long it will take me to miss a day of posting this month click here! Just kidding. That’s my Instagram account, which you should absolutely follow if you enjoy travel porn.