Sunrise and photo snobbery at Angkor Wat…

NB – if you’re not a fan of sunrise photos, skip this post!

Cambodia is a warm, friendly country that we have both loved. As we’re coming to the end of our time here, I thought I’d look back on some of the things we’ve seen and done.

Our first stop was the vibrant city of Siem Reap, where undoubtedly the stand-out attraction is the Angkor complex of ancient temples. We found ourselves a friendly tuk tuk driver (not difficult – every second person in Siem Reap seems to drive a tuk tuk) and then headed out for three days of temple touring.

Definitely not posing at all…

The three day pass costs $40 per person and can be used on any three days within a week, so if you get a bit temple-tired you can spread your days out a little. There’s also a one day pass available for (I think) $20 and a seven day pass can be purchased too. I’d say the three day pass is ideal, unless you’re a serious temple nut, but each to their own.

We began on day one by visiting the Roluos Group of temples, which are approximately 18km to the east of the city – they are not near to the main Angkor sites. The tuk tuk out the the site is pretty hair-raising – it’s a very busy road and as you leave the city it’d be well worth having something to cover your face from the dust and fumes. Or you could splash a little more cash and take an A/C minivan. These temples were a good starter, apart from the poor monkey being kept as a pet by monks at Lolei Temple – the poor thing was kept tied up by a building site near the temple. We’ve notified a Cambodian wildlife rescue organisation, so hopefully it’ll be rescued soon.

Day two consisted of the Grand Tour circuit of temples at the main Angkor site. The history and beauty of these temples is pretty hard to take in and the size of the whole site is kind of overwhelming. Added onto this for us was the searing heat – all three days of our time at the temples it broke the 40c mark – pretty exhausting.

Trapped in a temple…

The main event for us was on day three, beginning with a 4.45am alarm to get up to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. If you’re hoping to do the same and are imagining you’ll be there watching the sunrise by yourself; think again. There were hundreds of people there – endless streams of tuk tuks, minivans and coaches. Upon entering the staggering temple complex, there are two pools to the left and right in front of the main temple. Large crowds were gathering on the edge fo the left pool, hoping to get that iconic sunset reflection shot, so we gambled on heading to the right-hand pool, which was far quieter (to begin with at least!).

Not quite having the place to ourselves 🙂

The sun seemed to take an age to rise. Lisa soon got tired of the crowds straining to get a place for a photo, so went off to have a sunrise pancake and cuppa. Lovely. Being a photo nerd, I stuck it out, childishly being amused by how many folk own wildly expensive cameras but just shoot on auto, were stood there reading the instruction manual trying to figure out how to use some of the other modes, or were trying to shoot using the flash – I mean, do they really think the tiny flash will light up a huge temple that’s probably 75 metres away? Anyway, I digress…

At just after six, the sun began to rise. It was beautiful, seriously beautiful. If you’re umming and ahhing about the early start, just do it. We saw Angkor Wat, the huge Angkor Thom and the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider temple (aka – Ta Prohm) and were back at the hotel by lunch time for some food and a snooze by the pool. One important think – don’t be that person who decides to take the elephant ride between the Angkor temples. We went past them before 6am and it was already over 30c – later that day, one of the poor beasts died of a heart attack while carrying some tossers in the baking heat. The elephants are run by a company linked with the Angkor Village Resort – I heartily recommend that you boycott that hotel until they stop the elephant rides completely. In the aftermath of the elephant’s death, they did reduce their working day to four hours, but that just means they’re chained up somewhere for 20 hours…

Anyway, before I waffle on too much again, I think I’ll just let the photos of the day do the talking, or writing, or whatever the phrase should be…

Angkor Wat:

The sun makes its appearance at last…


My favourite image 🙂
People heading into the temple…
A monk admires the sunrise…


Angkor Thom:

Entrance to Angkor Thom
Huge carvings at Angkor Thom
Bored, or maybe man trouble?
Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom

Ta Prohm – the Tomb Raider Temple…

Just a man in a tree…
The way the trees have grown over the temple walls shows how ancient they are…
The famous Tomb Raider tree! No sign of Angelina though – she was probably scared off by the busloads of Chinese tour groups 🙂



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