I woke up after what was a roller coaster of emotions and decided that i would just relax all day. I had already booked my tour of Angkor Wat for the following morning, and decided to make the best out of the awesome rooftop pool terrace my hostel had to offer. I put on my bathing suit, grabbed a drink and laid out by the pool. I must say for a hostel that costs 7 dollars a night, this rooftop terrace was incredible!
I saw many people who would late become very close friends, however I spent that day to myself listening to some music and truly relaxing. The next morning it was time to wake up and head over to the temples of Angkor Wat. At 5 a.m. sharp me and 3 strangers hopped aboard a Tuk Tuk and made our way to the temples. There are 2 main options for the tour of the temples, you can either rent a bike for the day and ride around, or have a Tuk Tuk driver bring you to all of the different temples for around $6. I chose the latter as it was supposed to be extremely hot that day.
When we hit the road it was still pitch black, and I remember thinking how lucky I was to be experiencing another amazing place, yet again. When we arrived at Angkor Wat the crowds of tourists were already starting to pile up. Over 1,000 people huddled behind the pond to prepare to take the iconic “reflection shot” of the sun rising behind Angkor Wat with the reflection shining on the pond.
I too began to follow the masses, however when the sky began to slightly change from black to dark purple I decided to move my location. People started shuffling around trying to position themselves for the perfect photo, a photo that you can see on almost any post card. I decided to stay as far away from the rest of the tourists, and positioned myself on the grass. I knew I would not get the perfect shot, however I wasn’t there for that. I was there to take in the beauty of these historic temples, and to feel that sense of calmness that people feel when they are TRULY experiencing beauty.
The sunrise was absolutely beautiful, with the sky changing numerous colors before the sun finally revealed itself above the temples. While walking back to my Tuk Tuk I was 100% contempt with not taking 1 photo of the actual sunrise, however luck would have it I ended up taking a photo that meant so much more to me than the reflection shot ever would.
While walking away I noticed a couple who were also staying as far away as possible. They were just sitting there, obviously in love, and enjoying every second of the sunrise. I stopped to take a photo of them, and it became hands down my favorite shots of the entire trip.
The rest of the day was spent checking out the amazing temples around Angkor Wat, with my favorite being Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider Temple). While walking around the vicinity of Ta Prohm there seemed to be a certain energy that was completely enveloping and soothing. As I was walking outside I closed my eyes and felt like I was back in time, the sun flashing on my eye lids as it was peeking in and out of the trees I was walking by. I left the temples that day feeling so fortunate to have been able to experience such beauty.
As I have said, the greatest thing I could have done on this trip was to not stick to an actual itinerary (as I originally had planned on doing) and just let the experiences happen organically. This way of traveling was never of higher value as it was for Siem Reap.
The next day at the pool I met a group of a few friends, we went out that night to dinner, followed by a reggae bar. The group continued to grow for the following few days. I still had some cash left over so I decided to extend my trip by a week, and I would end up spending 8 days in Siem Reap prior to finishing off my final journey on the islands of Cambodia. Those 8 days were filled with meeting so many different people from all over the world, and forming bonds that will last me the rest of my life.
On my final day in Siem Reap me and 4 friends (3 from Germany and 1 from England) hopped on a sleeper bus to go down to the Islands of Cambodia. It was to be the final week of my traveling, and I was looking forward to just laying out on a beach all week and doing absolutely nothing. However as fate would have it, there was much more than just laying on a beach that was awaiting me.