It seemed to me that where ever I heard about Angkor Wat it mentions the wonder that was Angkor Wat during sunrise. Even a good friend of mine (an expat living in Vietnam) made a point to describe how the world’s largest religious structure appeared to him as he witnessed the first morning rays reflect on Angkor Wat.
My little velcro wristwatch began to beep at five in the morning. I tumble my way into some clothes and then tumble out of my hostel room. I manage to make my way to the lobby. Outside, I find Ratanan already waiting for with his motorbike puttering.
Ratanan, a clean-cut Cambodian in his mid twenties, is my driver and guide. I met Ratanan by chance. When traveling, everyone you meet is “by chance”. As a moto-taxi driver, it was Ratanan’s turn for a customer when I stepped out of the airport. It did not take the exchange of too many words to settle on a price for him to drive me to and within the temples Angkor Wat.
The ride to Angkor Wat takes us through the quiet ghost-town of what will be the city of Siem Reap once the sun rises. The darkness is creepy. My eyes try hard to make sense of all of the turns through town. We arrive at the temple complex where the chatter of tourists began to replace the quietness of the early morning.
Ratanan pulls up to the steps leading up the main temple at Angkor Wat. I pull out my little key-chain flashlight and begin to walk down the stone path towards the darkness of the temple. I find myself an almost perfect spot by one of the pools. I can sit down to watch the great spectacle and snap some good-enough-to-frame photos. I begin to see the darkness of the sky fade away and I wait. I wait.
The rainy season of Southeast Asia brings, well, rain. The rain is accompanied by large dark clouds and overcast skies. Unfortunately, this morning was no different. The beautiful scenery I have heard about like a legend will remain that way for me, or at least until next time I visit the temples of Angkor Wat. Nevertheless, watching the early morning mist fade over Angkor Wat has been an experience I will never forget.
This entry is part of a series of posts on my trip to Southeast Asia in August of 2008. You can see all of the posts in this series the post: A look back to my trip to Southeast Asia.