Stepping foot on a site that’s well over 1000 years old might be motivation enough, or maybe you want to play out your own scenes from Tomb Raider? Either way the remarkable temples of Angkor have inspired many adventures and Trish Shaw, former Intrepid group leader, never tired of seeing a special sunrise in Cambodia…
“The alarm sounded at 4:30 am, still dark outside, but not cold. No matter how many times my job as an Intrepid leader made me awaken early for this occasion, it never became a chore. This morning we were going out to the breathtaking sight that is Angkor Wat, to watch the sun rise. At 5 am, the entire group was gathered at the bus, and after a quick head count and entrance pass check, we were on our way.
Fifteen minutes later, we were walking, torches in hand, along the 475 metre causeway, that stretches across the imposing 190 metre wide, once crocodile-filled, moat, to the grand entrance of the magnificent 11th century temple.
Built originally during the reign of Suryavarman II, as a shrine to honour the Hindu deity Vishnu, it was left to nature for hundreds of years then rediscovered and restored for use as a Buddhist shrine by the Khmer royalty in the 16th century. Today it is the main drawcard for the thousands of tourists that have turned Cambodia into the ‘must-see’ country on the South East Asia tourist trail.
Once inside the west gate, our group continued along the path towards the inner wall, that surrounds the temple. We settled into sitting on the front steps of the library, on the left side of the causeway, with a reflective pool between us and the splendour of this magnificent monument and place of worship. The sky lightened as the bus loads of tourists joined us, in what is for most, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Despite the crowds, serenity and peacefulness enveloped me as I got into the lotus position to enjoy a few moments of piece while I meditated in this divine Buddhist environment (I usually managed 20 minutes). At around 6:30 am, a brilliant orange ball started to peak out over the towers, creating a beautiful photo opportunity as the image is mirrored in the pool before us. The cameras didn’t stop snapping as the sun rose grandly to welcome a new day of inspiring sight seeing in Cambodia.”
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* photo by Haydn Thomas – Intrepid Photography Competition