Honored as the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is a spectacle any time of day. But, at sunrise, when the golden rays bounce off the stone structure and illuminate every corner of the temple, it’s nothing short of breathtaking.
Interestingly enough, Angkor Wat wasn’t on my “must-visit” list. I landed here by accident on my way from Thailand to Australia, but that, my friends, is exactly what I call fate. I was meant to visit this colossal Cambodian monument.
The day began at 4am; we rose from bed with sleep still in our eyes. We shuffled out to the front desk of the hotel, hopped in a tuk-tuk, and by 4:15am were on our way to purchase our tickets ($37 for a one-day pass that gives you access to Angkor Wat and all of the surrounding temples).
It was still pitch dark when we arrived, and, along with a couple hundred other tourists, we walked carefully on the cobblestone path towards the temple. There were vendors selling coffee and breakfast, and, armed with a bit of each, we set up shop along the waters edge and waited for the sunrise.
Forty-five minutes later, the first sign of light began to emerge. Over the next hour a dance of light covered the temple, land, and water, seeping through every nook and cranny of the building. With ample light to explore, we headed into the temple and spent the next hour wandering wide-eyed, taking in the artistry, architecture, and grandeur of it all. No word sums it up better than brilliant.
Angkor Wat was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. The name Angkor Wat means “Temple City” or “City of Temples”. The original name of the temple, however, was Vrah Viṣṇuloka (Sanskrit), which means the sacred dwelling of Vishnu.
Even if you can never make it to Siem Reap, I hope this walking tour provides an insight into the magic and mystery that is Angkor Wat.
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