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, we followed each other in the darkness, tripping over the paths and each other. When we were within a stone throw of Angkor Wat, still hidden in the darkness of early dawn, there were vendors approaching us asking if we wanted some breakfast. I remember them calling out loud and obnoxiously. It had been so quiet – the yelling broke me from my anticipation for a bit. After the vendors retreated, we were left shuffling into place at the pond where the sun would be rising. I tip-toed down to the water’s edge, my feet sinking into the mud, trapping me into place.
Straight ahead, I only saw outlines of the architectural feat, and to my right, a veritable wall of people with flashing cameras, all eagerly awaiting the sunrise. Collective anticipation among the crowd quieted the surroundings.
The sky transitioned from total darkness, to blues and purples, to soft pinks. But as the sun slowly peeked higher and higher, it all of a sudden became a glowing orange ball that gently illuminated the temple in fiery warm and radiant orange. I felt the heat from the sun on my face, warming me up from the cool pond of which my feet were still immersed.