04 June 2009

Angkor Adventures: Angkor Wat at Sunset

Continuing from the previous post, where I talked about arrival in Siem Reap, and a bit on the town, plus the Angkor National Museum. After

The Tara Angkor hotel is around 15 minutes from the Angkor ticket booths. We had the hotel bellboy help us negotiate with a tuk tuk driver to take us to firstly, buy the pass, then go to Angkor Wat for the sunset experience, then take us back to Old Market for dinner. The bellboy helped us negotiate a $7 deal, which we thought was great !

Departing at 4.45 pm, we arrived at Angkor Wat way before sunset, so we had some time to explore.

Angkor glowing in the late afternoon My first view of the beautifully symmetrical towers of Angkor Wat from the tuk tuk as we approached the western gate gave me the chills. I was so touched to finally make a childhood dream come true !

Angkor Wat is a bit of an Angkorian anomaly. Angkor temples, both Hindu or Buddhists, face the East, to catch the morning sun, thus symbolising life. Angkor Wat on the other hand, faces west. Historians believe this is because the temple is built as a funerary temple for Suriavarman II - dedicated to him as a state temple while he was living, and as his mausoleum after his death.

DSC_6897Walking the causeway that takes us across the moat, I nearly burst out in happy tears. You can't see the 5 central towers while on the causeway, blocked by the Western Gopura (entrance gateway), so the sense of anticipation is heightened.

When I finally got a chance to peek through the final sets of doors at the western gopura at the golden peaks of Angkor Wat, I found my moment of peace and serenity. I have made one of my earliest wishes come true :)

Provision at least 1.5 hours for your sunset trip - excluding travel between your hotel. This will give you enough time to walk through the sights, take plenty of photos, and not feel so rushed to not be able to enjoy your Angkor Wat experience.

A time to reflect ? Angkor Wat is one monumental temple best visited multiple times - since like Ayer's Rock in Australia, it has a very different dynamic and feel at different times of the day.

During sunset, the towers will light up, basking in the golden rays of the setting sun on the western horizon. This is when you will be able to see the whole temple and its 5 towers glowing in soft sunlight.

During sunrise, the sun rises behind Angkor Wat in the east. This means you get the dramatic silhouette of the temple instead, with sometimes dramatic red skies in the background. More on Angkor Wat sunrise in my next post.

And you visit Angkor Wat in the afternoon, so that you can enjoy the bas-reliefs (carvings) on the walls in the relative cool of the shade, and taking opportunity of late afternoon sun to light up the carvings. You can then stay on to enjoy yet another Angkor Wat sunset :) ... I'll share my experience on this in a later post ;)

Am I happy? Anyways, Angkor Wat during sunset in magical. While walking on the causeway from the western gopura, you will notice two ponds on either side of the causeway - the best photo ops are right there, to take the temple reflecting on either of those pools. Also, by moving away from the causeway, you get to see all 5 Angkor Wat towers. If you approach directly, you will just get to see 3 towers, since the front left and right towers will obscure the rear towers.

Anyways, let's just enjoy photos and let them do the talking :) ... more of them here.

Next Post - Angkor Wat Sunrise & Angkor Thom

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