So today we were checking off another big bucket list item, see the sunrise at Angor Wat (which means “Temple City” or “City of Temples” in Khme)r. Angor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It was cool to see something that was made by hand in the 12th Century stand the test of time.
We got up at 5am and took a bus from our hotel to the Angor Wat parking lot. From there we walked in pitch black (no stars, no city light air pollution) with only our flashlights to guide us. We got our passes checked by a security guard 2 (once to get into the parking lot once to get into the grounds). The we started walking towards blackness. It was really quiet. At one point we could hear water splashing. Under the beam of our flashing we could see we were on a stone bridge crossing a moat – but there was no railings – we didn’t know when we were on the bridge – it was un-nerving that we could have fallen in.
Our guide set us up at the left side of the pond that is front of Angor Wat. And we were lucky we cam early enough to get a front row seat. Tour groups who came 10 minuets later had to stand behind us. Those of us who were smart, brought bags to sit on. As it is by a pond the ground is VERY muddy. Those of us who were smarter brought breakfast with us. Canned coffee and muffins makes the wait more fun. And those who are thinking ahead bring mini tripods with them so that they can get lots of fun photos in the dark. – Also if you are bored – be creative with the back lighting (I made a heart)
The funny thing was – as soon as the sun peaked over the tower of Angor Wat (aka I took the top photo) Our guide rushed us all to stand up and get moving. I wasn’t prepared for that. I wanted to enjoy the sunrise. Oh well. As our guide let us know – we would have two hours to see the temple (from 6-8 am) then go back to our hotel for breakfast. This way we beat the heat, and have less tourists in our way, as most tourists see the sunrise leave to get some sleep then come back. It was defiantly the right way to do it. But the 2 hours flew by. This temple it gorgeous. And tranquil. You could sit here all day enjoying the silence and the people watching.
Next temple we went to was Bayon Angkor Thom, known for the 216 giant faces that are on the outside of it. We only got 45 minuets at this temple which we sent a lot of it posing for the camera, and making a impromptu Tomb Raider video. We found that on the lower level there are lots of hallways and twists and turns. Also there are a lot of bats living in the vaulted ceilings. So watch out for that.
We discovered too late that the coolest stuff is upstairs, where you can see all the big faces (like the one pictured above). We had to to rush through exploring the upper level. Which is a shame. I would have loved more time. We still had a great time though. And this temple should be on everyones must see list.
Last but not least we visited the Tomb Raider temple, officially known as Ta Prohm, and a big check on my bucket list. This temple is unlike other temples in the Angkor complex, because it is in the state of slowly becoming ruins. The trees in the jungle have grown over this temple to the point of if they were to remove the trees, the whole complex would collapse. However the trees are destroying the temple so preservation authorities are trying to keep the temple in the beautiful state it is in by replacing the stones where they can.
However this place is magical. With its green moss walls, and trees that you know have been there for centuries there is no wonder why this site has inspired more writers and painters then any other Angkor temple. The photos I have posted definitely do not do this place any justice.
To end off the night we had a white shirt party. Everyone had some laughs and were able to dance the night away.