The big Indochina trip: the temples of Angkor day 2

I’ve heard from several sources that you should see Angkor Wat at sunrise, so this morning we forced ourselves out of our comfortable bed at four o’clock. Our Tuk Tuk driver picked us up and we set off into the cold, starry night. 

When we arrived at the temple there were already some people waiting but we managed to claim a spot right at the edge of the pool facing the temple. Soon there was a veritable crowd, three rows deep lining the edge of the pool, we were lucky to be so early. After a while we started seeing the contours of the temple against the night sky. After that the sun started to rise for real, the sky changing from dark blue to pale yellow to orange as the sun rose over the top of the temple, with the silhouette of the temple reflected in the still surface of the pool. It’s quite a sight, definitely worth losing a bit of sleep for. 

Pre dawn, still too dark for anything but a decent camera 

Getting a little bit lighter 

The assembled crowds

Oh hey, it’s actually light enough for the auto focus 

The sun is rising…


….and rising

The sun is just over the top of the trees

People watching the sunrise

The sun is up

While the crowds flocked in to Angkor Wat we had some breakfast and then, wanting to save the best for last, headed to the next temple. 

Banteay Srei is rather far from the other temples, about 30 kilometers from the city but it was supposed to be very beautiful and since we had the time we decided to go there. Perhaps Tuk Tuk wasn’t the best option for that kind of distance but I think it’s much more fun than some kind of mini bus. The temple is indeed very beautiful, it is built in red sand stone and is covered in some very well preserved, extremely intricate carvings. We were a bit unlucky though because we arrived at the same time as three bus loads of Chinese tourists so the place was crowded. 

Yini at the entrance 

The crowds in the central courtyard 

Inside the temple 

Larger view of the temple

Animal faced guards outside two of the shrines 

Beautiful wife in front of beautiful shrines 

Black and white for that old time feel

Intricate carvings 

Found a nearly people free corner where I could take an artsy photo

Got to get a selfie

Another artsy photo

On the way back we stopped at the much less well known, and therefore comparatively empty, Banteay Samre. It used to be a kind of fortress temple so it doesn’t really have any windows to the outside. I think that’s pretty cool, but the best part about it is the fact that we were nearly alone inside. 

The entrance 

We discovered that the real entrance is on the other side 

Various Banteay Samre

Me in the ruins 

We met some cute local kids walking around the ruins

Looking out between the pillars

Yini in the ruins

More various Banteay Samre 

Inside the central shrine

Our driver offered to take us to one temple more but we were too tired after our early morning so we went back to the hotel. After resting a couple of hours we went out to the nearby market to go shopping for handicrafts. We finished the day with dinner at a restaurant called Marum. 

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