The 3:45 wake-up call came early but we were ready. We boarded our bus at 4:45AM and headed out to Angkor Wat armed with flashlights and cameras. Everyone crowded around the lake eagerly anticipating the dawn of the day as the sun rose over Angkor Wat. We were not disappointed. Also, the date was September 21, 2014 which also happens to be the autumn solstice. As the sun ascended it was perfectly centered behind Angkor Wat creating a spectacular sunrise.
Following the sunrise we continued to tour the complex. Angkor Wat is the largest single religious monument in the world. Literally translated as the “Temple City”, the complex was completed in the 11th century. Angkor Wat was originally a Hindu complex dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, the protector of creation. From its creation the temple has gone back and forth between the Hindus and the Buddhist control. After 1431 the complex was abandoned and the Khmer King moved the Khmer capital to Phnom Penh. Anyone visiting Angkor Wat should seriously considered doing it at sunrise as the temperatures are cooler and seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise is a once in a lifetime experience.
The afternoon was spent relaxing at the hotel and visiting the town of Siem Reap. The hotel complex is beautiful with a refreshing swimming pool and a beautiful spa with a complete menu of relaxing massages. Late in the afternoon we jumped in a Tuk-Tuk and for $2 we rode into town. The town of Siem Reap is lively and filled with shops, bars and restaurants. There is a large market there as well selling just about everything. Bargaining is expected and some good deals can be had. That night we enjoyed dinner at the hotel restaurant and were treated to a traditional Khmer folklore show as we ended our stay in Siem Reap.