Did you know that there is more than Angkor Wat in Angkor Archaeological Park? My favourites temples were Banteay Srei and Ta Phrom. Many people would be familiar with Ta Phrom because of Tomb Raider and the famous tree growing through on the roof of the temple. Many would not be familiar with Banteay Srei and maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much, the quietness and solitude. And of course, many visitors want that iconic sunrise photo of Angkor Wat.
I debated with myself (because I’m a solo traveller so that’s how conversations and debates happen – with myself) whether or not to wake up a few hours before sunrise to try recreate that iconic sunrise photo many photographers over the years have captured. My photography teacher has famously advised us to take a different perspective and not just repeat that famous shot everyone has done before, just google that famous shot and embrace it. I thought the sunrise experience regardless of the photography would still be an incredible experience so I did it.
I didn’t bring my DSLR as I was travelling with a carry-on only and this was especially important because the first half of my Cambodian trip was in the jungle of Mondulkiri and I was told I’d be carrying my bag/s for about 10min down the hill.
I’m glad I went with a tour despite my utter dislike of being told what to do but it seems to be the simplest thing to do early in the morning. The other easy option is to hire a tuk-tuk but do not ride a bike by yourself during the twilight hour/s, in the early morning’s darkness, unless you’re in a group of 4 or you know the way around Siem Reap. The entrance tickets are bought from a location not at the front of the park and definitely not at the front of Angkor Wat, and it wasn’t a you won’t miss it straight street of point A to point B route.
We were right next to the Rainbow Bridge and there were steps we could sit on while waiting for the sun to rise but what people didn’t realise was there were about 8 steps and we were only sitting on the first 3 steps – darkness and all. We were sitting too much to the north and my view of the five towers were blocked by tall palm trees. I slowly shuffled to the south and managed to avoid those palms trees, and had a shot of the five towers. Most of the times, I can only see three towers (front left, front right, middle) while two of them (back left and back right) were hiding.
Once people got the sunrising photos, they all quickly make their way out of the area but this is when it was so soothing just to sit until the sun is a little higher. Alas, I was on a tour and we have to go have our breakfast and continue our exploration before midday when the sun would be extremely hot. We were aiming to be in air conditioned room for lunch by the time our blazing sun is above us.
At that sunrise, I saw more than Angkor Wat, the sunrise or the water reflections, I saw the changing colours of the sky, the clouds, the lotus flowers, the ducks and the birds above.
This was sunrise at Angkor Wat.