The first objective of Angkor Day 1 was to view the sunrise at Angkor Wat. I had planned my activities for today around this event. 🙂
While my worry was not about the time but to beat other people for a good spot to capture the sunrise. My night bus from Phnom Penh reached Siem Reap around 4.15 am as planned. As soon as I got my motorbike down from the bus, I raced to the ticket counter to get the 3 day pass.
The ticket windows open at sharp 5 am. And there are already people waiting in queues. You don’t need a passport. Got the pass in quick time and now it was time to rush to the sunrise spot.
I was confident that I would easily get a good spot to capture the sunrise. Or maybe I was too confident. This was crazy. Seems like these people had spent the night here. Inspite of all my planning, I had to contend with standing in 2nd row. It’s a challenge to get a decent picture with so many selfie sticks blocking the view.
And this was the view for which I had gone through all the trouble. Looks magnificent. But worth all the trouble? I don’t know 🙂
After some time, I got out of the crowd and decided to take their pictures instead as I found that more amusing.
I roamed around a bit and came back to the same spot to capture the sunrise again after the crowd had dispersed. With so much trouble to go through, I feel the sunrise moment is little overrated.
I had kept Angkor and Bayon for the last day. So I headed over to Ta Prohm, another popular temple with tourists because of the Tomb Raider fame.
The depiction of Samudra Manthan, which is considered to be an important event in Hindu mythology is seen at many places around the Angkor temples. The statues here show the Devas (Gods) holding the serpent Vasuki while churning the ocean for the nectar of immortality.
Beautifully carved entrances
A joy to ride such empty streets. I think I was the only one riding a dirt bike around the Angkor temples as everyone else were travelling in tuktuks. 🙂
Finally reached Ta Prohm. It opens at 7.30 am and I was right there on time hoping to avoid some tourists.
Happy to see India’s contribution to restore this beautiful temple.
Can’t stop admiring these intricate carvings. One can only imagine how skilled and talented these sculptors were.
The monstrous trees of Ta Prohm that have engulfed parts of the temple. The temple is very popular with tourists as Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider was shot here. So you will be seeing lot of people around you in the Tomb Raider pose near the trees. Sometimes there is even a queue for that. I had no such desires…I got my pictures and moved on. 🙂
Cambodia is one of the worst affected countries by landmines that were placed during the Khmer Rouge. There are still many mines in fields and forests that need to be cleared. Here a group of people who have lost their legs due to such landmines are trying to earn a living through singing.
Some green fields on the way to Neak Pean
Swamps outside Neak Pean
Outside Preah Khan temple
Samudra Manthan at the entrance of Preah Khan
The detailed carvings just continue to astonish me.
Preah Khan temple. This temple is known as a fusion of Buddhist and Hindu deities.
As I started riding from Preah Khan, my motorbike stopped. I had completely forgotten to refuel the tank. I parked my bike and started walking in hope of finding some help. Suddenly a local girl came from behind in a moto and asked me if I needed any help. Without even me asking, she immediately offered to bring fuel from her village. I was stunned by this gesture. I have always found Cambodian people helpful and this small incident just reaffirmed that feeling.
By the time I completed Preah Khan, I was too tired to continue further. I had started my day at 4 am and I had covered enough for one day with two more days to go. Decided to call it a day and take some rest as the next day was going to be fully packed with sites around Phnom Kulen.