I have caught up with some of my media friends here. As they wait for the latest to emerge from the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM), some are quietly making arrangements to see the temples of Siem Reap.
You can’t blame them really. After all, this is Siem Reap, home to the spectacular Angkor Wat, which many said should be one of the seven wonders of the world. The city is also rather different from the Capital, Phnom Penh.
Traffic is certainly lighter here. Padi fields are a common sight, and so are tourists. Despite all the new attractions emerging in the world, the Angor Wat remains high on the travelling agenda of people around the world. In Southeast Asia, only Indonesia’s Borobudur is mentioned with the same awe.
Visitors to Angor Wat continue to be impressed by its architecture, and beautiful stone carvings. Close your eyes, you can virtually hear and imagine the religious officials going through their chores centuries ago.
Some things never change. And visiting the temple in the early hours of the morning is one of those.
On Bali island, many tourists wake up late, with some nursing a throbbing hangover. Here in Siem Reap, many wake up in the wee hours of the morning…maybe dead at night is a better description. Only one thing can make so many give up the warm cosy comfort of their beds. And that is to see the Angor Wat at sunrise.
It is slightly amusing when you arrive at the temple complex bleary eyed. Many are dozing off, satisfied that they have secured the “best seats”. As you stumble around in darkness looking for your own spot, you can help but ask yourself if the whole exercise is really worth all that effort. Especially with the image of your warm hotel bed still hovering before your eyes.
Then magic strikes.
The sky started off as a deep blue, but began turning a blushing pink, before developing the deep red colour that Southeast Asian rubies are famous for. Yawns gave way to “oohs” and “aahs”. Many stood with their mouths agape, as dawn slinks. Bit by bit, the golden sunshine morning sun pierce the shadows, revealing the splendor of the mighty Angkor Wat. By the time you feel the heat, the ancient complex is already basking in the warm morning sun. Was it worth losing sleep? You bet!
While many are enjoying the beauty of the Angkor Wat, experts have warned that more care must be shown, for the temple complex to continue basking in its glory.
For more pictures, please click here.