by Regin Reyno
One of the most famous sunrises in the world, is the sunrise over Angor Wat. A Hindu temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia which was built in 1112 AD by King Suyavarman II of the Khmer Empire. The most powerful empire in Southeast Asia during the 9th century.
Many people actually wanted to witness this sunrise, as it is so stunning and a breathtaking experience. Many postcards being sold in Siem Reap, regarding Angkor Wat, depicts the sunrise. Paintings of the famous temples being sold in the market also portray the marvelous sunrise. It is so famous that, according to blogs that I've read, thousands of tourists flock early in the morning, in Angkor Wat, with all their tripods, cameras, video cams, just to witness the sunrise.
Upon knowing this, I immediately thought about it. I've been to Angkor Wat, yes, but I haven't witnessed the sunrise over it. The last time we went there, we arrived at the temple at around 8:00am already. We had no plans of witnessing the sunrise then as we were too lazy to get up early. But because of my friend's wish, which is to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat before he dies, I was motivated to see it and capture it for others to enjoy.
The Angkor was built facing the west. So upon the sunrise, the sun will slowly show itself behind the 5 main towers of the temple. There is also a moat in front of the temple which its reflection adds to the beauty of the scene. During summer months, March-April, the sun will rise at the center of the temple, slowly showing itself between the towers, and that what makes it so picture perfect.
So I went to Angkor Wat one weekend in June 2012 to capture and witness the marvelous and famous sunrise. The night before my palnned day of going there, I informed my guesthouse ahead of time that I'll go there in the morning, to witness the sunrise. People in Cambodia know that most tourists really go to Angkor Wat to witness the sunrise so they are used to this. I told them that my friends and I will be leaving at 4:00am.
I have read in the net that if you arrive there quite late, there will be thousands of people already waiting for the sunrise with all their tripods and everything. So if you want a good spot, or a good composition, go there early.
As our remorque-moto(tuktuk) sped on a chilly 4 o'clock morning, I am so confident that I'll be one of the first persons to arrive there. But we didn't have tickets yet, so naturally our driver led us to the ticket booth, approximately 1-3km. before Angkor Wat. But to my surpirse, the ticket booth is still close. I desperately wanted to have a ticket so that we can now proceed to the site and setup my tripod. But the poster outside the booth says the booth will open at 5:00 am and closes at 5:30pm. So I have to wait til 5am to be able to get a ticket.
|while waiting for the ticket booths to open|
|our remorque-moto (tuktuk)|
We arrived at the temple when it was still dark. You need a flashlight in order to find your way. Good thing one of my friends had one. As I approach the moat in front of the main temple in which I plan to setup my tripod, I was approached by a local. He said he has some mats prepared for us as we wait for the sunrise.
|tourist/travelers going to the site to witness the sunrise|
I ask him where is the perfect spot to set my tripod, he told me "I've been here for 20 yrs., would you believe me if I say this is the perfect place?" Pointing to one spot with a mat. of course I immediately believed him. I set up my camera putting on my semi-wide angle lens and did some long exposures. And he told us his name is James Bond 007. Because his restaurant's number is 007. And invited us to order drinks from him and eat at his restaurant later.
Slowly but surely, may people started arriving. Just as what the internet have said, it's really a lot! And to think we came in June and it is low season, but for me, it is still a large crowd. Many people flocked. Sitting on mats, chairs, standing with different cameras waiting for the sun. It's my first time to witness a large crowd like that gathered together just for the sole purpose of capturing and beholding the sun! It was so amazing! It is one of the experiences that I will never forget. It is like a large group of sun worshipers!!
|waiting for the sun|
photo credit: Masayuki Ubukata
The wonderful power of God, His marvelous creation revealed over a wonderful creation of man. A stunning work of geniuses. It was a wonderful sight to behold.
Many clicks,many wows, can be heard. Some didn't bring a camera but just sat there and savored the moment. What a marvelous experience.
To experience God's greatness and His creations' ingenuity through Angkor Wat is a breathtaking and memorable experience.
|Thank you God for giving us this wonderful show.|
|with our Japanese friends|
Jame Bond 007's restaurant. Time to fuel for the day's temple tour.
Meet James Bond. Our local assistant during the sunrise shoot and the owner of the restaurant.
P.S. In December, the sun rises between the "lotus" pillars of the temple which is more spectacular. We were here in June.