A MAGICAL MOMENT AT SIEM REAP | Sharon Henry
Angkor Wat sunrise! My alarm reminds me at my 4am wake up call. I contemplate ignoring it, but no, get up! This is the Angkor Wat Temple and an opportunity of a lifetime to experience and photograph sunrise over this magnificent UNESCO site. Plus, it’s considered THE thing to do at Siam Reap, Cambodia.
We bought our Angkor Wat ticket the day before and did a little recce, not wanting to be late we’re out the door by 5am.
Nak, our tuk tuk driver is waiting outside and within 30mins drives us to the Angkor Wat entrance.
The Classic Angkor Wat Images
Other excited sunrise watchers are arriving in droves; we can hardly believe how many people are already here. A long line of headlights trails away up the road set against the loud hum of tuk tuks competing with buzzing crickets in the surrounding trees.
We get approval from the line of Angkor Wat ticket inspectors and set off into the grounds to find a spot for ‘the’ shot. You know, the ‘classic pond shot’ showing a reflection of the temple towers and the sunrise.
Angkor Wat Sunrise Best Spot
Unfortunately, it’s the height of summer and the ‘classic pond’ on the left of the complex has virtually dried up. This fact doesn’t seem to deter others, however; the place is crowded. There are scores of tripods and serious looking photographers staking a coveted spot around the rim of what is now a patchy, muddy puddle, elbows out guarding their precious space. I wonder what ungodly hour they showed up.
We decide to leave the Angkor Wat photography buffs and relocate to the other side (right) of the complex where it’s less crowded and we should get a better angle of the pink-tinged sky, but without a reflecting pool. The selfie sticks are also out in full force.
Getting Those Angkor Wat Pictures
While Darrin sets up the camera, I can’t help eavesdropping on a conversation with an Angkor Wat tour guide. “There’s a hot air balloon ride near Angkor Wat, you can go up for $1, good price right?” asks the tour guide. “It costs $19 to come down. Deal or no deal?” he chuckles. The tourist is not amused. I have to swallow my chuckle.
We photographed that balloon yesterday under an Angkor Wat sunset. The balloon ascends 200m into the air then floats, anchored in place by a wire at the base station.
The Angkor Wat Weather Will Make You Sweat
Access inside the Angkor Wat temple itself is closed at this point, although I can see the orange cloth of a monk in the distance taking his position before the doors open.
Two tethered horses are grazing in a small field in front of us, heads down, oblivious of the spectacle soon to unfold. The sky is cloudless, albeit rather misty but it’s already a sticky 29C and the sun has yet to appear; it’s forecast to reach 38C later.
What It’s Like Watching An Angkor Wat Sunrise
Everyone is now quiet; waiting, watching and hungry. Stomachs are grumbling, including mine. We left the hotel before breakfast was served. There is a girl touting coffee to the crowds, it sounds tempting and we do fancy a caffeine fix but wary of the water origin. Yesterday we watched a woman dipping water from the unhealthy looking lake at the front of the temple – so we give the coffee a miss.
Now I start to hear yawns and a little girl behind us repeatedly asking her mum, “when is Mr Sun coming?”
Then the sun starts peeping through the lotus towers and cameras go wild. It looks like liquid gold spilling over one of the world’s most revered religious sites. A magnificent structure, built eons ago in the 12th century. It’s so overwhelming I feel we should applaud.
Then, just as quickly as ‘Mr Sun’ arrives the crowds disperse. But we hang around to savour the moment. We timed it perfectly, the planets aligned and the weather gods gave us perfect skies. A truly a magical moment that was so worth getting out of bed for.
Off course there’s more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat, click here for a 2 week backpacking Cambodia itinerary.
If you’d like to know of more UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit The Adventurous Feet has this great top ten list to help plan your next trip away.