It’s barely 4 am but I am wide awake and anticipating the arrival of my Tuk-Tuk transport to Angkor Wat. I am hoping for a clear day in order to see the magical sunrise at Angkor Wat. I can barely contain my excitement while chatting with the hotel receptionist about the ancient wonder. The friendly driver arrived punctually at 4.30 am and greeted the receptionist and me with a smile. He will be bringing me on a ‘small circuit’ route which covers some prominent temples in the massive Angkor Archaeological Park for the day.
The driver (I forgot his name…my bad) dropped me at the ticket office and there was already a queue. He mentioned that some tourists would be here as early as 4 am! Thankfully the queue moves fast even with picture-taking at the counter.
Angkor Wat during sunrise
The sandstone bridge across the moat is dark during the early morning and there are no railings. Hence, it’s best to bring along a torch or follow someone with one. It didn’t take me long to reach the reflecting pond near the main gate of Angkor Wat. But a large crowd has already planted themselves at the front edge of the pond, arguably the best seat in the house. So I settled down at far right and waited patiently for show time.
The orange morning sky finally turns up after a long wait. I was dying to capture the sunrise together with the reflection of Angkor Wat. Then for some reasons, a big group of people occupying the pond side decided they have seen enough and left. Hooray!! I wasted little time and went over immediately of course.
Thereafter, I move on to explore the interior of the ancient temple.
It’s then time for Tuk-Tuk hunting among the sea of identical ones at the agreed meetup point. Thank goodness my driver waved at me else it might take ages to spot him. And we are off to the city of Angkor Thom via the impressive South Gate. Leading to the narrow gate is a bridge lined with statues.
Bayon Temple looks to me like some ruins from afar until I notice the faces carved on the stone towers. And what an incredible sight it is! Most of the remaining 30-something towers contain four faces which mean there are quite a lot to look out for.
Getting to the top of the temple allows me to look closely at the enormous faces. The four faces are carved with such precision that they look identical.
Baphuon and Phimeanakas
The scorching weather is getting unbearable and the lovely egg yolk sun seen at Angkor Wat is now showing its might. Gosh, didn’t I choose the most cooling month? Anyhow, I soldier on under the immense heat towards Baphuon and Phimeanakas.
The Elephant Terrace that was used as a viewing platform for ceremonies. Here’s also where I will be doing my Tuk-Tuk hunt again.
Ta Prohm aka Tomb Raider Temple
The infamous Ta Prohm is the next temple, more commonly known as the Tomb Raider temple, even my driver called it as that. But I am sure this amazing ancient ruin does not need the movie to draw people here. The unusual merger of nature and architecture is already a surreal sight on its own. For nature has sort of ‘reclaimed’ the temple of a mighty civilisation where trees spread their roots around man-made structures.
I was supposed to head towards Banteay Kdei next, but the heat and fatigue got the best of me. Hence, I asked my driver to head back to the hotel instead. Those places which I have skipped would be made up during my next trip to Angkor Wat in the near future. I went out to have dinner at Pub Street in the evening after a long afternoon nap. I was told that this is the liveliest place in Siem Reap. Known for its nightlife scene, there’s a lot going on here with plenty of restaurants to bars to choose from.
The Angkor night market is another place to check out with lots of stalls selling anything from clothes, bags, jewellery, bags to Buddha statues. Shopping ain’t really my thing so I didn’t stay here for long. And that also concludes my super-short visit to Cambodia.