Angkor Wat is the main temple in Siem Reap. There are literally hundreds of others that are located in and around but that one is the “creme de la creme”. This was probably in the top 3 on my bucket list. Because it is so grandiose, I’d read that it’s best not to see it first when exploring the temples because everything else won’t seem as significant. I told John, that I wanted to see a few other temples first before seeing Angkor Wat and he said that would be fine.
I was told that the following day I would be picked up at 5AM in the morning to go to the temples at sunrise. OK, after missing that beautiful sunset, I was not going to miss sunrise. I didn’t care how early I had to get up and how long I had to wait. I was dropped off at a different temple this time and it was majestic, just absolutely huge! I walked 6 minutes down the causeway just to get to the first gate. Once I passed through the archway, there was another long causeway giving way to an even grander temple. Holy Cow, this was amazing!! I followed the crowds to an area in front of a lake to get the best view of the sunrise and then I proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait and wait!! The sun did eventually rise and I will say it was pretty but the sky looked nowhere as beautiful as it did the night before when I missed that sunset. Oh well- I’m over it (or at least trying)! As I stared at the temple ahead I could not wrap my brain around how something of this size was built. All the temples in Siem Reap were built between the 8th and 13th century. They were all hundreds of years old and built with such detail. All of the temples were the center of ancient cities of the past but only the temples remain as the cities were built with perishable materials and vanished over time. Due to the holy nature of temples expensive rock and sandstone was used to impress the gods.
After sunrise, I figured that I should probably go and check this temple out before heading back to my tuk-tuk driver. Once inside there were hundreds of archways leading in all directions. I continued to walk through to another open area and more giant temples with steep inclined stairs greeted me. This place was UNBELIEVABLE! I kept thinking to myself, I can’t imagine what Angkor Wat looks like because this one really is insane! I continued to explore for another hour and a half, walking through more archways that lead to more courtyards. I walked along the outside which was carved in intricate designs portraying the story of Ramayana and famous wars that had taken place in the past. Again, I was mesmorized and thought…….I WONDER WHAT ANGKOR WAT IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE BECAUSE THIS ONE IS JUST BEYOND!
So…………….I got back to my hotel that afternoon and met a girl from New Zealand named Tash. We got to talking and she said that she woke up that morning and watched the sunrise from Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat? Huh, I told her that I watched the sunrise as well that morning but I don’t think that it was at Angkor Wat because I wasn’t supposed to have seen that one yet. Tash said that the only place to see the sunrise was at Angkor Wat. WHAAAAAAAT???? Was I at Angkor Wat and I didn’t even know it? I took out my photos to show her and she said……yep, that was Angkor Wat. Oh my gosh, how in the heck did I spend 2 hours at Angkor Wat and not even know? I’ve seen it in a million pictures but to the western eye temples do all start to look the same and they are hard to recognize in person. I’m sure thats what the hindus and buddhists think when they see our churches.
But the whole reason for coming to Siem Reap was to see Angkor Wat and I didn’t even know I was there! I’m a complete idiot! Needless to say I asked my driver to take me back on another day so that I could enjoy it while knowing that I was there.