Temples of Angkor

By 5th July 2016Cambodia

It was 5am and I was cycling in the pitch black darkness and using my phones light in one hand to lead the way. I was half way down the road heading for Angkor Wat to get a good spot for the sunrise.
I arrived a little late, as the gates had already opened so I took up a spot by the wall near the entrance. It was a really cloudy day so there weren’t many colours in the sky, so I waited for a while and made my way through. The grounds of Angkor Wat were beautiful and although walking through the gates was an amazing experience. The building itself is impressive but the grand walkway and the surrounding structures and grounds in combination really create the atmosphere. I made my way to the two other most well-known temples including Bayon, the temple of many faces, and Ta Prohm, made famous by the movie Tomb Raider. Bayon was teeming with coach loads of tourists at the time so I aimed to come back the next day when it was quieter.
Ta Prohm was definitely the coolest of the temples. The roots had entangled themselves in the worn away nooks and crannies of the temple desperately trying to find soil from which to find nutrients. Nature had truly taken over here in a most spectacular way and the huge tree roots had completely engulfed the temple.
I took a tour of the highlights that same day so not to get templed out too quick and planned to come back the next day for the smaller ones.
Again charging down the road to Angkor, this time, a little earlier, at 4.30am. I was first into the grounds of Angkor Wat which was a special experience in itself and I managed to get the best possible spot this time for sunrise. The sky was mostly clear and the sunrise was a palette of colours ever changing from reds and greens to purples and blues.
I had already looked around the grounds of Angkor Wat properly the day before so I charged off to some of the other temples before the crowds arrived. Baphuon temple that early in the morning was pretty special. The sunlight shone through the trees made the still wet ground almost sparkle, and the low-lying mist that surrounded the crumbling ancient structures made it really atmospheric.
Bayon temple was also deserted at this time which was a massive contrast to the day before. I walked around the ruins of the temple taking it all in for a good hour then head over to some of the lesser known temples. All well worth a visit. Preah Khan is worthy of being in the top 5 as much like Ta Prohm, the trees roots run along the walls and above the ceilings of the ruins. I walked through the entrance of this temple and noticed a scorpion scuttling along the floor in front of me, much to the shock of another tourist who let out a yelp.
I was interested to see how Angkor compared to Bagan in Myanmar as most people I met preferred Bagan. Bagan certainly is a special place with the amazing sunsets and sunrises over the vast temple landscape, but its hard to compare them against each other, they are different beasts. Angkor is pretty amazing in its own way. I think it’s more about timing here though, very early morning when there are no people around is the best way to see these temples and get the most out of the experience.

Subscribe

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.