Sunrise, Sunset, The Temples at Angkor

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Angkor Wat sunrise

It's 5AM and still pitch black when I walk across the bridge into Ankor's Wat's gates, the stars reflecting in the waterway below me. The outlines of the temple spires rise ominously over me as I step into the structure's shelter. Out of the darkness, a great Buddha statue appears, swathed in bright orange cloth.

I make my way down to the edge of a long square pool that leads all the way to the main temple, and sit down. Slowly, tourists straggle in and fill out the area. Locals are selling coffee, tea and renting chairs. We wait. The sun rises in 2 hours.

I had flown into Siem Reap the evening before, and moto-ed into town. Siem Reap is a gorgeous little town, calmer, cleaner and more genteel-feeling than Phnom Phen, if also more upscale and touristy.

On the back of the tiny motorcycle with my backpack tucked snugly between the moto driver's legs, we had raced across the roads along the river, past pretty french colonial style hotels extending their balconettes over the green riverside trees. We had dropped off my bag at the hostel and got to Bakheng Hill just in time for sunset.

Bakheng Hill is the temple from which everyone watches the sunset in Angkor. It's a truly beautiful sight, although incredibaly crowded. The temple is at the top of a hill, and though there is a gradual path leading up, security was waiving everyone up a steep shortcut to get us all there in time. It was pretty awesome sight to see my first Angkor temple, complete with elephant grazing in front, appearing in the distance after climbing up through the trees.

Angkor Wat sunrise
The sun glowed amazingly hot and red as it sank down into the treeline, illuminating everything in reds and oranges. A single hot air baloon floated over Angkor Wat in the distance.

Since I bought my one-day Angkor pass late in the afternoon on the 28th, it was still valid for the whole day on the 29th. So here I was, camped out and waiting for the sun to rise over Angkor Wat. Sunrise, I have found out, is much slower and less dramatic than sunset. I only realized this after doing this whole back-to-back sunset/sunrise thing. Sunrise over Angkor Wat is still incredibly beautiful, and yeilds really cool photos, but don't go expecting sunset in reverse. It doesn't really work that way. Nonetheless, the pretty morning light flitting through the temple walls is quite atmospheric, illuminating the temple carvings and intricate spires in a lovely way.

crocs!
High up, a monkey climbed the ancient walls, unaware of their significance.

Next, my moto dropped me off at Bayon, from where I explored Angkor Thom at leisure. Bayon is an crumbling complex known for the stone faces that gaze out from its spies. The Angkor Thom complex is emcompasses many temples, and I explored the area's many walkways, tree-lined gates, and intricatedly carved walls on foot. You can climb many of the temples, though some are so steep you climb the great crumbling stones like a giant ladder. As the sun rose high into the sky, I left Angkor Thom and we moto'ed on to several other temples, including the Ta Phrom, as overgrown with tourists asking about Angelina Jolie as it is with trees.

My moto was $13 for the whole day, including a dropoff at airport in the evening, but my moto driver pretty much just took me on the usual tourist route: no far temples, nothing he felt was out of the way.

After seven hours of templing around on the main circuit, it had stopped asking which temple I was at and was pretty ready to get some rest anyway. I requested that we make one last stop in town -- at the crocodile farm. The book says there's a crocodile farm at a restaurant in town, but my driver took me to a bigger one. The entrance fee was only a couple dollars, so I sent ahead and went in.

Crocs are huge! And there were so many of them, lying still next the the pool below me, slowly crawling around in the sun. They're sooo cute. And whenever I think a non-feline animal is cute, it usually ends up with me asking where I can eat said cute animal. So I had my moto driver drop me off at a french restaurant recommended by a tourist who was at the crocodile farm with her kids, where her son had eaten crocodile the day before (see review below).

Angkor Wat sunrise

Wish I had more time in Siem Reap, but that night I was off again, flying to Bangkok on the late night flight. It took forever and a day to get into town on the airport bus (150 baht), and I arrived sometime after 1AM to a part of town the Lonely Planet describes as being chock full of razor artists. Luckily, the placed seemed pretty safe to me, despite my almost being stumbled over by some drunk Thai kid. I got a decent hostel for $250 baht (giant though stiff bed, fan, shared but clean bathrooms, free breakfast, no-hassle and very honest/helpful people). Can't remember the name, but it's in an alley next to the Hualumphung (I can't spell) train station.

sheba124 says:
Beautiful shots!
Posted on: Jan 20, 2008
martinikitty13 says:
very cool pics. i'm going to angkor wat this april - can't wait! :)
Posted on: Jan 20, 2008
marloesetman says:
It's great to read your blog, I've been here too and the memories all coming back during reading! :D
Posted on: Jan 20, 2008
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Angkor Wat sunrise
Angkor Wat sunrise
Angkor Wat sunrise
Angkor Wat sunrise
crocs!
crocs!
Angkor Wat sunrise
Angkor Wat sunrise
Bayon
Bayon
sunrise, Angkor Wat
sunrise, Angkor Wat
Sunrise, Angkor Wat
Sunrise, Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
sunrise, Angkor Wat
sunrise, Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
tuk tuks at Angkor
tuk tuks at Angkor
Tha Prohm
Tha Prohm
Tha Prohm
Tha Prohm
Bangkok Air, Austrian edition
Bangkok Air, Austrian edition
Siem Reap Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
I went to Abacus just because I heard it served crocodile, but it actually has some awesome food. The menu is French with exotic touches, with lots of… read entire review
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling