We woke up at 4.30am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat one morning. Groggy and slightly disoriented, we were introduced to the minivan driver and Mr. Meng, our tour guide, who good-naturedly attempted to engage us on the site’s historical significance in a thick accent, which considering the time of the day, rendered as a whole different language altogether. Pity. After a stop at the ticketing booth to get our photos taken for our entry pass, we proceeded to join the trickle of lights emanating from torchlights and phones, as like-minded tourists trekked towards the lotus pond, the spot from where we would experience the iconic moment at Angkor Wat.
Unfortunately, that day was not the day. I did however manage to plant my tripod at the edge of the pond (after a couple in front of me vacated; lucky!), and spent the next hour or so steadfastly making long exposure shots of the beautiful Angkor Wat silhouette in twilight. 6.30am eventually came and went, leaving behind disappointed tourists and still no sign of a fiery red ball of gas. I actually wanted to wait another hour more, hoping to sight the sun at a higher angle when it’d get less cloudy, but the rest of the group was ready to move on and, with the exception of Ottie, I wasn’t on familiar enough terms with them to selfishly impose on them like I did on my trip to Japan. XD
Presenting to you, Eight Views of Angkor Wat:
Believe me, I originally had way more than eight photos of the famous silhouette. In addition, the sights we saw while exploring the massive compound was so awe-inspiring; nothing could have prepared me for the sheer majesty of the temple, not even those torturous semesters of Asian Art History. It was just so beautiful. Here are some of the sights in and around the compound:
The morning sun shines on a damaged bas-relief of an Apsara.
Me in my temple outfit, sitting in the window of the interior building. It is a sign of respect to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the temples. Discouraging mosquitos may also have been a factor in being covered up despite the heat.
Photo taken by Ottie.
Group photo! From left to right: Mr. Meng on his erhu, Ross, Chris, Dar, Ant, Ottie, and me.
Mr. Meng was one heck of a guide. We may have had a hard time understanding his English at first, but when he played his erhu, he spoke the universal language of music; it was so surreal. He even became part of the attraction for some tourists throughout our tour! This was the guy who took me by the arm to capture a picturesque view of one of the Angkor Wat silhouettes while the rest were still exploring one of the buildings… which was quite amusing after I got over my initial alarm. Not to mention that he brought us through shortcuts and may have lead us in trespassing into certain sites that were inaccessible to the public. I would have this unorthodox tour guide over any perfect English-speaking guide anytime.
Thank you Mr. Meng!
To hear Mr. Meng and his repertoire of musical talents, head over to my video compilation post for the video on Siem Reap!