This was a big item on my bucketlist. The experience itself? On a scale of “Sign me up for another 4.30 wake-up” to “I should have just pressed that snooze button”, it leaned more towards the former (due to a few nice and unexpected perks!) … but could have easily gone both ways.  If I were to return to Angkor Wat, it’d be purely with a better camera to take nicer snaps. But here were the highlights of my visit.

Personal space…

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… is a foreign concept. To me, this was an expected disappointment. There were TONS of people vying for that amazing place to see the new day dawn. Still, this also had its’ small benefits. Why? Well, because of the…

Guides/Drivers and Touts

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The first (drivers) – a necessity. We hired a driver from Siem Reap and as it turns out, he knew the ticket sellers so we got to skip the queue. Later, we learnt that lots of people buy their tickets the day before, but hey – we were still on a plane then! Our driver knew exactly where to bring us and even took really good shot of us.

The second (touts) – not so much a necessity. Although a daily sight in Southeast Asia, it was still pretty sad to see kids going up to travellers to ask them to buy kerchiefs, handicrafts, etc. However, some enterprising locals had set up coffee stands which possibly saved my sanity that early in the morning. Love!

Sunrise views not to be missed

Yeah that’s right. I had to resist the urge to say something like “Everything the light touches, Simba…”(If you didn’t get this reference, please go watch some Lion King!).

The moment itself was amazing – I do so love my sunrises, more than sunsets. Beautiful sunsets take hardly any effort to catch in my opinion. A cloudless evening, cocktail in hand, beachfront views – that’s my idea of a perfect sunset. Sunrises however – they’re the stuff you climb volcanoes or mountains for – and for some people, waking up at 4.30am takes no less effort than that. Unless you’re still out from an all night bender…

Our driver gestured us to leave after the sunlight had advanced past the peak of the temple – although I thought it would have made for a great timelapse. But, oh well – moar temples to see!

Did someone say temples?

Because there are temples galore. At one point, we got templed out. One of my favourite was the Bayon Temple, with 216 duplications of King Jayavarman VII’s face. With that many, are they called duplications? Either way, there are other interpretations of who the faces might resemble – but well, I totally buy the idea of a narcissistic king. Way back when, Khmer kings used to think of themselves as devarajas, kind of a combination god-king.

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Besides the Bayon Temple, I liked the Elephant terrace of Angkor Thom.

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Some other photos with the sky making a pretty backdrop –

After I was templed out, I did pretty silly things (not advised! I was younger and a little dumber back then)…

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All in all… I really regretted missing the sunset, but don’t try to cram it all in one day. The heat and hordes of tourists ended up getting to us and we left. We visited a few ruins as well – and liked them – but my photos aren’t worth uploading because of tons of (not on purpose i.e. not so nice) photobombs. ;(

Strike one off the bucketlist, though!

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