Yesterday, I showed you photographs of the sun setting in Angkor. Now you’ll see what I saw the following day when I woke up at 0430 and headed to Angkor Wat to see the sun rise.
Since my job regularly requires me to be awake at 0500, there aren’t many times that I’ll wake up that early when I don’t have to. Heck, when I travel, I’m often partying or sharing stories with new friends well into the wee hours of the morning without sleep. But if I go to bed before 0200, I’m definitely not waking up at 0500 unless you give me a good reason to.
Seeing the sunrise over the temples at Angkor Wat? That is a good enough reason for me.
Awake I was at 0430, out of the hotel at 0500. The air had that wet humidity to it from the previous day’s rain. You could tell it was going to be a hot day. I packed for the rain and also for the trekking I planned on doing. I figured that I could easily go from 0500 to 1700, spending an entire day visiting temple after temple. I put on my favorite Ohio State shirt in case a random Ohioan was in country and felt the urge to yell out an “O-H!” I knew better though then to wear a cotton t-shirt whilst wearing a backpack whilst walking all day in humid SE Asia.
Back to the morning though. My cool driver from the previous day eagerly met me at the hotel and we were on our way. The 20-30 minute ride took us past many travelers racing to make the sunrise by bicycle. I thought of biking to Angkor Wat myself but decided against that since I knew the humidity would be more of a challenge then the road.
I got there at the perfect time. The darkness had subsided but the sun had yet to rise. Apparently, 100′s of other travelers were just as eager to see sunrise as I was, for the place was packed with people. Undeterred, I walked briskly to finally step foot on the grounds of Angkor Wat. For I was finally here after seeing and reading so much about this place.
I was finally here. I touched my hands on the surface of the entrance and then paused for a moment as my feet sank into the wet earth. It is these moments that I cherish. I remember the feeling I felt when my feet touched the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower when I first saw it. It’s simply exhilarating to see for yourself a place you read and fantasized about. As long as I travel, I hope I never lose that innocence.
Angkor Wat at sunrise. Sure, you’re sharing it with 100′s of others, but it’s still a moment that will live in your memory.
Where is a place that you fondly remember seeing for the first time after fantasizing about going? Did it live up to your expectations?