May 12th, 2016
If Siem Reap is known for one attraction and one attraction only, it’s Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is the largest temple complex in the entire world, and a right of passage for many travelers is to arrive at the crack of dawn and await the sunrise behind the temple.
So, I arrived at the crack of dawn and awaited the sunrise behind the temple. Angkor Wat is magnanimous. Even with the hoards of tourists and visitors, there’s no way to doubt that. I sat on the lawn outside of the temple to wait for a bit…and then the sun started to rise. I watched as the sky faded from black, to dull hue of the sun breaking, to colors streaking across the sky behind the temple. This is what I came here for, and I made a mental note to remember the moment.
Over the next few hours, I strolled through the temple grounds of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom – made my way through the chiseled faces of Bayon Temple, and wandered through the temple in the jungle from Tomb Raider.
Bayon Temple was by far my favorite site. In fact, it’s fighting for my favorite site thus far, against Doi Intahnon in Thailand, and a tomb I visited in Hue, Vietnam (more on that later). I felt like I was in a mythical country and I zigzagged my way through the indoor halls and glanced at the giant stone faces that were keeping guard.
I also should note that I made a friend while at the temples, her name is Nisa, and we spent the next couple of days together on our trip. We went out to ‘Pub Street’ that evening, which is a lively grouping of streets with tons of bars, restaurants, and shops. We ventured to a rooftop bar which doubled as a skate park, climbed to the top of the half pipe on the roof, and enjoyed the views together as a great way to end our day.