IN PHOTOS | Sunrise in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Straight from an awesome night of partying at Pub Street, my friends and I dragged ourselves out of our hostel to witness the sunrise at Angkor Wat. I considered actually getting some sleep—maybe an hour or two—but the thought of not being awakened by the alarm (and furthermore, that nobody would wake up my friends if they fell asleep) led me to sit upright all night and soak under the shower until it was time to go (yes, I’m responsible and sacrificial like that).

Our hired driver, Tee Tee, fetched us at 4:00AM so that we could reach Angkor Wat by five. But before heading to the temple complex itself, we passed by the ticketing office to secure our day passes, which cost us 37 US dollars each.

The ride to Angkor Wat was a rather chilly one—the wind slapped my face as the tuk tuk sped past trees, temples, hotels, and fellow tourists who all woke up early for the same reason we did. I regretted not bringing a light jacket, and my lightweight long-sleeved shirt certainly did not help ease the cold. I hugged myself and counted the minutes; without realizing it, we were already parking outside the perimeter of Angkor Wat.

As we weaved through the throng of tourists carrying cameras and smartphones, trying to find a good vantage point, I couldn’t help but admire the dark and mysterious shape of the main temple in the horizon. The sky was a deep shade of purple. The cluster of towers was flanked by foliage. In front, the faint glow of the water, from which lotus floated. I couldn’t wait to see its full glory.

Slowly, the sky turned from dark purple to pink, before changing into glorious shades of orange and deep blue. Soon, the entire place was filled with yellow light, showing us the details of the temple. The water reflected its majestic beauty. Everything, even the trees, the seemingly lifeless ground, the roots extending towards us, contributed to the awesome scenery.

Nothing has prepared me to see such beauty. I was in awe. I was changed.

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