Angkor Wat – The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

Angkor Wat – The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

I am whizzing along the silent, sleepy roads of Siem Reap in the dark. The 4am start is tugging at my eyes and aching in my belly.

I arrive at the entrance to the temples, purchase my pass and stumble blearily towards the lake. I sit on the edge of the water in 5am darkness. People buzz around me, setting up tripods and refusing offers of hot drinks from local storeowners. I am silent. My eyes strain in attempt to make out the dark outline of the temple in front of us, searching for a glimpse of sunrise.

aw8 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

Everything and everyone stills when the first threads of colour start to bleed across the sky, dispelling the dawn. And as the sun rises, Angkor Wat emerges, a filigreed shadow against the rising sun. My world is now entirely stained pink. It’s breath taking.

aw9 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

aw10 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

aw11 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

I’m tagging along with a group of friends I’d met the night before at the hostel, a motley crew composed of a Polish natural light photographer, a Philippino doctor and a hilarious Spaniard. We are chaperoned by our Cambodian tuk tuk driver – Honda. He is 23 and has big ambitions; he teaches himself English as he waits for us.

aw12 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

aw14 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

Once the sun is high in the sky, we begin our exploration of Angkor Wat, the largest temple in this ancient Khmer Empire. Yellow buildings push out through the green jungle; ornate carvings fleet across stone, depicting battles won and lost, forgotten kingdoms. Light spills through columned window and crevices in stone, creating the perfect photography environment. Maciej, the natural light photographer, is in heaven and I find myself on an impromptu photo-shoot, although harem pants and the rising temperature don’t make me feel like a supermodel.

We emerge from the stone enclaves into the heat of the day, monkeys scamper in wake of the temple and a hot air balloon hangs in the sky. I feel an immense sense of calm, of something bigger than me.

aw16 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

aw17 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

The next temple we visit is Angkor Thom, of Tomb Raider fame. It’s clichéd to say, but it’s my favourite. Tree roots grow through the temple, an organic sculpture of gnarled roots and old stones; nature meeting man in perfect harmony.

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The heat is setting in deep. Fried rice on the roadside revives us for the next three temples, which are stunning and wrapped in spirituality; windows into ancient worlds. But by 3pm, we’re all exhausted. The guilt at not staying for sunset is eaten away by the baking temperature and the incessant but gorgeous children trying to sell us things.

aw19 Angkor Wat   The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia

After bidding a fond farewell to Honda, we arrive back at the hostel and I sleep for 12 hours straight, dreamless, before catching a bus to Thailand in the morning. My travels move on but the memory of Angkor Wat emerging from a sunrise soaked sky won’t ever fade.

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About Ruth Clifford

Ruth Clifford Ruth loves to travel and loves to write. Living in London and working as a Digital Account Director for GolinHarris, she enjoys nothing more than escape, live music and very good food.

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5 Responses to "Angkor Wat – The Ancient Temple City Of Cambodia"

  1. No Roads and No Horizons  December 30, 2013 at 05:58

    Very cool! I just booked a tour and will be going next week. I’m really excited. It’s the perfect way to start the new year.

    Reply
  2. Joanne Lam  October 15, 2013 at 16:45

    Cambodia life is incredible, I was lucky enough to see Angkor Wat on a helicopter tour as well as roaming around myself and it was unbelievable! Definitely a must do if anyone gets the chance to do it.

    Reply
  3. Matt Boyd  August 24, 2013 at 07:32

    Thanks Ruth for the blog. I’m heading to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam soon. Can’t wait. I often find a driver with “big ambitions” in my travels. They are always entertaining.

    Reply
  4. Spirit tourism  May 2, 2013 at 08:05

    Will be going there this november ! I have always been mystified by this structure. Damn, can’t wait

    Reply
  5. David and Sandra  April 5, 2013 at 03:46

    Heading off to Cambodia tomorrow. Thanks for the blog. We are looking forward to a week of soaking up Cambodian life.

    Reply

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