Sunrise at Angkor Wat are stuff of travelling legend. There are many picture postcard shots of the main temples, silhouetted against a vibrant pink and orange sky, reflected in a pristine lake for extra oomph. The reality behind those photos is a little less serene. Hundreds of people, jostling for the perfect photo, the air full of chatter and calls from local hawkers. So in a bid to find a slightly different experience, we went off the beaten path a bit.
We had been really impressed with one temple in particular on our tour, Pre Rup, and conveniently this was one of the few temples open for sunrise. Arriving bright and early at 5am, there was still and inky coating over the ruins. After ascending the giant steps with the aid of our head torches we were treated to a wonderful experience.
For the following 30 minutes, we watched as the horizon shifted through kaleidoscopic colours, smatterings of clouds adding texture to the sky above. Below us in the forest, a dawn chorus of wildlife struck up its morning tune, with monkeys, birds and insects all lending their voices. Finally, from the small communities that live in the park itself, we heard monks chanting during morning prayers.
As the only people on top of this ancient temple, we were totally mesmerized by the whole scene. A prefect Angkor sunrise, all to ourselves.