The Angkor Wat was built as a Hindu temple, supposedly dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Protector. Over many generations and time, the King’s descendants’ faith swayed towards Buddhism. So even though most of the main temple retains its Hindu characteristics, the new buildings in the complex are definitively Buddhist. As we were drifting around the compound, looking for a spot of shade, we chanced upon this Buddhist temple – plain and unadorned in comparison to the Angkor Wat, but a symbol of Cambodia’s present juxtaposed with its past.
Chofas are characteristic to Buddhist temples in and around Thailand – these horn-like roof ornaments are usually gilded in the Thai versions, but this one’s were rather modest; and three intact, one broken.
I’m no fan of early mornings (as seen here). Even when I’m back home, every morning is a demo in zombie-walking around the house. So, as the phone alarm rang shrilly in the middle of the night, I groaned and dragged myself out of my pillows-and-blanket cocoon and encouraged myself to do this for the breakfast that awaited on the other side of sunrise (Diamond d’Angkor – best breakfasts of the trip, more on that another day).Continue reading Racing Against the Sun, Part II – Angkor Wat→
Needless to say, sunrise at the Angkor Wat is on the checklists of everyone visiting the area and every morning, hundreds of tourists undertake the ritual walk to the moat at the entrance of the temple before the break of dawn, armed with their photo equipment to capture that magical moment. The most enthusiastic i.e. the ones determined not to let people strolling around ruin their shots (really hard, btw) obviously make their way to the site in the pitch-dark, but most others (like me) end up reaching the site much later as the sky starts to light up just a little bit.
Here’s a shot of my fellow (moderate) sunrise enthusiasts making their way to the site – quickening their pace, to get a better vantage point than the others and worrying that they’re too late to capture the event, as the pink tinges of the sky start to come into sight behind the temple gate.
(the actual sunrise took another 30 – 45 minutes to happen, so this was a bit of a false alarm)
‘Do we really have to go?’, I grumbled through the sheets, struggling to pry my eyes open.
I fumbled around for my phone for the time; it was the unearthly hour of 2:30 AM and soon to be time for us to leave for our sunrise trek on Mt.Batur, near Ubud in Bali. In half an hour, we would be off on the 45-minutes drive to the starting point at the base. Wanting to catch the sunrise atop the mountain, which, incidentally is also a live volcano, means leaving Ubud at 3 AM and starting your 1.5 – 2 hour climb uphill before 4 to get to the top in time for sunrise.
Keeping up the tradition of my fantastic luck with the weather for outdoor activities, it had rained just a few hours before we started and we were afraid we would just end up seeing clouds rather than the sun at the top. The trek is a little tougher than your average walk in the park, with a couple of steep stretches of slippery volcanic rock in the second half. After a bit of a mad dash in the last minutes to make sure we reached the top before the sun did, we found ourselves in an envelope of mist.
The despair didn’t last too long as the sun dispelled the curtain of fog to reward us with these sights. I’m no Early Bird, but some days are worth it.
The absolute worst thing about a vacation getting over is that it’s over. And the next one is at least a few months away.
As I sit at my work desk with a sunburnt face and hundreds of unread work emails, my brain isn’t helping matters, conjuring up images of turquoise waters, painters’ palette sunsets and white sand beaches, every now and then. Maybe I should try these tips instead. Or cheer for every passed hour till it’s time to go home and dive into hundreds of holiday pictures. 🙂
Some pictures from a beautiful sunset at the Uluwatu Temple in Bali while we were watching a Kecak performance by the local artists (October ’13).
Uluwatu lies in South Bali, west of the Nusa Dua area where we were staying. It’s best to rent a car with a driver and reach well before the time of the sunset – else, you could be stuck with the bad seats i.e. with your back to the sunset.