We had heard there were going to be crowds for sunrise. We heard correctly!!
We had left our hotel around 5am and arrived at the Angkor Wat carpark around 5:30am. A 5 minute walk later down the massive causeway that splits Angkor Wat from West to East and we were at the northern pond, on the western side of Angkor Wat.
While you can obviously take photos from wherever you like around the sprawling complex, everyone gravitates to this particular pond because, if the stars align, you can get awesome reflections of Angkor Wat in the water. Before arriving I had worked out what I thought would be the best spot for photos (north west corner of the pond, to maximise the depth of water in the shot), and it turned out I was right, but it also turned out that another 40 people had the same idea, or just got there earlier than we did!!
It was quite amusing to see one chap, who I suspect must have been one of the first to arrive, lying on the ground with his tripod set up in front of him ready to take the perfect photo, when other late-coming interlopers decided to sit themselves along the northern edge of the pond, inside the left edge of his perfectly framed shot! Of course he arced up and told them to nick off, and surprisingly after much grumbling they finally acquiesced. Pretty silly really.
It was all in vain as well, as the sunrise didn’t have a lot of colour at all. Being monsoon season I was hoping for stunning sunrise colours, but was planning for a black and white series of images, as this was a lot more likely. It turned out I was right. Some interesting cloud formations saved the day, and after showing some patience I was able to wriggle my way almost to the edge of the pond where I got some pretty reasonable shots. It would have been nice to get down lower, but there were just too many people in front.
My advice? If you want a prime position, leave your hotel at 4:30am.
Almost as interesting as Angkor Wat itself was the crowd of people lining the edge of the pond!
These shots show just how crazy it was…and this wasn’t even ‘peak’ season!!
I love this next shot of Karen. It cracks me up every time I look at it!! We then both had ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ in our heads for the rest of the day…
So many headless statues, the result of years of unfortunate looting.