When my alarm set off at 4 in the morning, I for once did not groan and kick grumpily between my bed sheets. I did not want to fling the alarm against the wall. With a big yawn and stretch, I was up out of bed promptly. After I needlessly patted my belongings around me with outstretched and sleepy hands, I shuffled to the bathroom to get ready.
Transportation was waiting for us outside the hotel about a half hour later. We rode in silence until we reached the entrance of the temple, where we had to then have our photos taken for our ticket for the day. This is when we were advised by our guide to make a ridiculous face for the photo. It was actually a great way to wake everyone up some more, because there were some priceless expressions to laugh at on our tickets.
Once off the bus and our tickets put away securely, we followed each other in the pitch black darkness, tripping over the paths and each other. When we had arrived and were within a stone throw to Angkor Wat hidden in the darkness of early dawn, there were vendors approaching us asking if we wanted some breakfast. I remember them calling out so loud and obnoxiously, I just wanted to reply, “Shhh! No, I don’t want any damn breakfast right now, please stop yelling.” It had been so quiet and exciting thus far, their loud yelling had irked me a little bit. After the vendors retreated, we were left shuffling into place at the pond where the sun would be rising over soon. I tip toed down to the water’s edge, my feet sinking into the mud, trapping me into place.
My first glimpse of the ancient temple was in the still-dark morning. Straight ahead, I saw the shadowy outlines of the architectural feat, and to my right, an absolute madhouse – a veritable wall of people with cameras flashing, all eagerly waiting to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat. The transformation in the sky switching from total darkness, to blues and purples, to soft pinks was stunning. But as the sun slowly peeked higher and higher, it all of a sudden became a glowing orange ball that quickly shot up from behind, now gently illuminating the temple a fiery warm and radiant orange. I felt the heat from the sun on my face, warming me up from the cool pond that I was still crouched in.