Today was our last day in the park, so we wanted to do all the things that we haven’t had a chance to do yet. First things first, sunrise.
Sunrise is early. Like, crazy early. Even earlier considering we rode our bikes up there. Sunrise was at 6:15am, so we left our hotel room at 5:30. We knew it only takes 20 minutes to get to Angkor Wat, so that would give us plenty of time to get there.
Unfortunately, we didn’t know that the coolest part of sunrise happens 20 minutes before the actual sunrise. So we were just getting to the entryway across the moat when we saw this:
By the time we got inside a few minutes later, the sky was a little tamer but still pretty.
It’s funny, because you see pictures like that and it seems so serene and calm and almost spiritual. But if you back up a few steps and take the same picture (or if you’re short), it’s a much different scene.
The best pictures are from the near side of the pond on the north side, so you can see the reflection of the temple and capture the sunrise directly behind it. But as you can see, it’s no secret. There are hundreds of other tourists doing the exact same thing.
The sun rose above the horizon, but it still wasn’t visible above the temple for another 10 or 15 minutes. Here’s a picture of its first appearance:
As you move around the pond, you can put the sun in different positions relative to the temple.
The sun continued to rise, as it does, and the amount of tourists around the pond dwindled as they went in to explore Angkor Wat and the other temples in the area. Isa and I stayed around for a while, partly because we didn’t want to get back on our bikes (we were tired!), and partly because as tourists left, it was quieter and more relaxing. Except when you get near the people trying to woo you to their stalls for breakfast or coffee.
Right now, in December, the lily pond is actually really pretty. You can’t really see it when looking straight at the sun, but looking back from the temple, you can see all the colors.
So at about 7am, we headed in to Angkor Wat for the third time on this trip, still in search of the smiling Apsara.
We had read about her in one of our apps, it’s the only Apsara (or devata, basically a royal dancer) of almost 2000 carved throughout Angkor to be showing her teeth. Traditionally, that’s naughty, although nowadays it has lost its negative connotation.
We finally found her, behind and to the right of the multi-armed statue of Vishnu.
That was the last part of Angkor Wat that we wanted to explore, so we walked back out to our bikes and headed back up to Angkor Thom to see a few things we didn’t have time for yesterday. But that’s for another post.

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