Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

The ancient temples of Angkor Wat came up repeatedly as we researched the region. Our guidebook, web sites and fellow travellers classified it as "a must see". My expectations are usually quite low when so many people flock to a specific site but I must admit the whole experience was awe inspiring.

Here is what Wikipedia says:

Angkor Wat (Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត or "Capital Temple") is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world, with the site measuring 162.6 hectares (1,626,000 m2; 402 acres). It 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.

One of the keys to a successful Angkor Wat visit is to outsmart the crowds. We rose at 4:30 am and met our tuk tuk driver, Terry at 5 am. Each morning large crowds head to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. There is nothing quite like an intimate photography experience alongside hundreds of other visitors / photographers. I am glad we were forewarned about the crowds and I decided not to fret about the photography. Instead I enjoyed the views and I assisted a young German as she had a hard time nailing the exposure of a tricky sunrise. We put the camera to manual exposure and went from there. She was thrilled and I was glad I could help.

We left the sunrise scene fairly quickly and beat the crowds. We explored most of the grounds and had several wow and awestruck moments with almost no one else around. This was spectacular. The guidebook challenged visitors to take a photo at Angkor Wat without people in it and I eagerly complied.