I decided rather than split my temple-ing into the different days I went, I thought it would be good to just group them by temple. Starting with the biggest, most well-known I went to – Angkor Wat.
One big “thing” to do is to get there to watch the sunrise over the back of the temple. It’s built up to be one of the most breathtaking sunrises in the world. I woke up at 4:00am, got into my tuk-tuk at 4:30am and was at the temple when it opened at 5am.
I got to watch the sun rise with about 1,000 of my new best friends, all crowding around the two reflecting pools in front of the temple. It was fun to shoot photos of the sunrise, especially because I was playing with long exposures (I’m happy I sucked it up and added the weight of a small tripod for my DSLR).
But alas… the sun never actually rose. It just essentially became day because the cloud cover was so thick. So it wasn’t as amazing as I think it’s built up to be. Especially given all of the people around – to me, the most wonderful sunrises are those you enjoy in an isolated place alone or with just a few close friends/family.
It was still an amazing experience, and one I’ll never forget, so I’m glad I went! But I have to say, after the first day, I was SO disappointed with the photos overall. The light was terrible – thanks to all of the clouds it was flat and just awful.
Because of the lack of space in my bag, I haven’t really been buying souvenirs – I’ve been focusing instead on making sure I have great, fun pictures that I can print and frame and then use that as my souvenir from this trip. So when my pictures don’t turn out, I get a bit sad.
The pictures up through now were my best from day 1 and from the sunrise. Your face right now should be just as unimpressed as mine was when I reviewed them.
But the temple complex itself is breathtaking! It is truly magnificent, and I can see why they put it up with the top wonders of the world. It’s so much bigger than you think it’s going to be – to get there, first you have to cross the outside moat. It’s pretty wide for a moat, and you cross on these floating blocks. It was frankly not easy in the pitch black of 5am.
Then you go through the main entrance, and go down the main aisle to the temple itself. The main aisle is very long! You can go about 2/3 of the way down it and you’ll arrive at the reflecting pool, and then when you get in the temple it’s giant! There are five asparas (apparently the word for the towers). The temple itself has a multitude of columns, engravings, and statues. Really, it’s pretty incredible.
The second day of temple-ing, I decided to end the day by going back to Angkor Wat. I felt a little silly because I knew I was going for photos, but I did actually want some good ones of it!
On my way in, I saw all of these monkeys playing on the temple. They were much happier than the ones at Caluit. 😉
There were even a few mothers with their children! You could tell they were having fun, even as the guards were trying to shoo them away. Eventually, they went back into the forest next to the temple.
And then I got what is maybe my favorite picture of the trip so far:
The whole time I was doing a photo shoot with myself down by the pond, I managed to get some pictures that will definitely be frame-able. (Both with me in them and not…)
And some fun shots that got better in black and white:
I have to admit to being slightly less awed by it than I was by Machu Picchu (gosh I’m spoiled…). The temple itself is far more magnificent, but I think there’s something about Machu Picchu’s hidden mountain location that makes it more mysterious and magical.
All in all, it was a fun place to visit (though exhausting!) and I’m glad I made time for it! It was nice to visit because it was close to other places on my route, though I’m not sure it’s worth the trip over from the states just for the temples.