For our final day in Siem Reap we aroused ourselves from the lounge chairs at the Golden Temple Hotel and did a sunrise trip by tuk-tuk back to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. We were back to the hotel for a late breakfast, but only after a stunning three hours at those beautiful temples.
Seeing the sunrise at this time of the year requires a 5 a.m. departure from Siem Reap. It was still dark as we climbed into the tuk-tuk and made our way the several kilometers out to the temples. There were several other tuk-tuks going the same direction, but we were vastly outnumbered by the dozens of tour vans and buses heading to the same spot we were. Fortunately, we had purchased a 7-day ticket for the temples ($60 each) so we didn’t have to stop at the outer entrance to the complex to buy tickets. Take that, buses!
|Temple or Rorschach test?|
Many people had already gathered at the prime viewing spot across the pond from the temple itself, but we managed to slip into an open space for a great view. Just before sunrise there must have been at least a thousand people spread out along the pond. Of course the pond is the preferred place to watch because of the reflections it offers. (We tourists are never satisfied with just a good view—we want a great one!)
We didn’t get dramatic color in the sky that morning, just a beautiful light blue glow as the features of the temple went from solid black to nuanced stone. I imagine at least 20,000 pictures were taken within the space of the hour we waited for the sun to make its entry into the sky.
As soon as it peeked over the temple the massive crowd dispersed, most of the people heading back into their various means of transportation to be carried back to their hotels and guest houses for breakfast. That was great for us—it meant that we could have one last walk through Angkor Wat with only a smattering of other tourists around us. There were actually places where we were all alone! Aside from a particularly obnoxious older English woman who was pontificating to her group about the story behind the battle between the gods in the sea of milk, the aura of the temple was soothing and inspiring.
We ended the morning’s tour with a brief return to the Bayon (the temple with many heads) in Angkor Thom and a ride out to the Victory Gate. A beautiful morning.
Next: On to Battambang