Wasn’t 5:30 am early enough? Nope! We would have to wake up at 4:45 am to leave by 5 am. So we stumble to our feet in the dark and I wonder if this pain I feel waking up so early will be worth it.
We already had purchased our temple ticket the day before (around 5 pm) since we were curious to see sunset at the temple complex. We followed the driver’s suggestion and hiked up a mountain to have a view of the sun setting into the jungle behind one of the smaller temples on a peak. However, the line was so long and the maximum number of people allowed to ascend the ladder had been reached well before we were even close to the front of the line. So we settled for staring at the jungle at the base of the temple, and frankly, I was unimpressed. The jungle was quite pathetic and looked for like a simple forest compared to the jungle in say Tikal, Guatemala.
Needless to say, I didn’t really know what to expect for sunrise. So we hopped on the back of the tuk-tuk, and he drove away into the dark. Since we had our tickets with our photos in hand, the driver took a shortcut and avoided the main entrance area. We entered through the quiet side entrance and didn’t see any other tuk-tuks or people until we entered the temple complex. Our driver parked and we were told to make our way towards the main temple.
Before crossing the bridge in pitch black since we forgot to bring our flashlight, we decided to purchase a $1 flashlight from a local lady carrying enough flashlights for a small village. With light in hand, we marched onwards in the dark. We looked left and saw a crowd of people standing at the side of the temple, some sitting in the front row, facing the temple and a pond-like body of water in front of them. And then it clicked. This must be be the best view of Angkor Wat at sunrise because the sunshine behind the temple creates a reflection of the temple in the water.
We took our places in the second row behind some individuals sitting in front, and pulled out our camera. Little did we know it would be at least another hour until sunrise, yet there were already over a hundred people there. It really blew my mind that so many people were awake at this hour ready for sunrise, yet I wondered how many people would ever watch the sun rise in their hometown.
Regardless, we stood and stood and took photo after photo after photo. It was one breathtaking shot after another. And we were addicted. We didn’t want to miss the perfect moment! So we took photos well before sunrise when the sky started to brighten and change color to purplish blue, and then lighter purple to pink, orange, and finally the yellow sun stuck its head out. We took over 200 hundred photos!!
And just for the record, I’m really happy that I struggled out of bed and made it to this amazing site at this hour. By the time the sun was rising, there were only a few hundred tourists and it was neat to be one of the first ones to enter the temple when it opened. We were told that there would be many more tourists by midday!!