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Cambodia: The temples of Angkor


November 2013

Also for a traveler like me, who doesn´t feel so attracted to most of the touristic places, the temples of Angkor in cambodia are a highlight. They are the only remains of the historic Khmer Kingdom Kambuja , which extended in the 9. – 15th century over a large area of southeast asia.

Morgens vor dem Angkor Wat
Morning time in front of Angkor Wat

For $ 40 dollar I buy a three -day ticket and get up early on the next morning. I want to see the sunrise at the largest temple, the Angkor Wat, not only with my own eyes, but want to make good photos, too. Other tourists tell me, to get one of the best spots you have probably be there rather early. My alarm rings at 4:00 clock and an hour later I park my bike in front of the entrance of Angkor Wat. It is still dark , a few torches flare up here and there and I get on my way to the pond , the best position to watch the sunrise. But I ‘m too late. The spots in the front row, near the water, are already occupied , one tripod next to the other, big cameras and lenses everywhere. I need to walk halfway around the pond to find a free spot, anyway, I take some nice pictures from there.

Gutes Foto von der nicht so guten Position
Good picture from a not so good spot

It is a special atmosphere. Not only the sunrise behind the temple outline, but rather the 2-300 people anxiously waiting for that . Quiet whispers in different languages ​​, cameras clicking , flashs flashing, children’s voices in between ” Breakfast, sir ? “, ” Coffee, mister ? ” , So early in the morning they try to lure customers into their restaurants.

I´m not alone – sunrisewatching crowd at angkor wat
Angkor wat is the biggest and one of the most impressive temples

As soon as the sun illuminates the scene I pack up my camera and go for a coffee . Tomorrow I have to get up even earlier. Or be satisfied with the photos I took from my position.

I start with pictures from my favourite place, the Ta Prohm temple, which is almost untouched by archeologist. That means it is mainly left in the state it was discovered in the the middle of the century and that makes it special. The atmosphere in the morning is magical, the temple is surrounded by jungle, as I start walking towards the entry I can hear the sound of the parrots in the trees and the first silhouette of the old stones appears out of the morning damp…






One need a lot of imagination to picture how it might have been in the ancient times. That ruins were a massive temple complex, inhabitet by 12000 people, with 18 high priests and 650 dancers, as an old inscript says. Place of worship, in the centre of a huge empire, and today just some stones and carvings left.

In front of the temple the soundscape is quite different. Now more and more tourists arrive and little businessmen try to sell their products to every tourist:

From temple to temple

The temple ruins are scattered over a large area , ideal to visit by bike and I cycle relaxed from temple to temple. Not like the touristgroups which arrive by huge coaches around lunchtime, often rushing from one temple to the next in a desperate try to see “everything” .


Some ruins are still used for worshipping buddha – but I had the felling in some places it is just for selling incense and flowers to the tourists




Tha Bayon is a massive three level temple which is situated in the exact middle of the ancient city Angkor Thom
More than 50 huge stone faces are carved into the 20 Towers of the building



Elephants were a important symbol

Some more pictures from Angkor Wat, the biggest temple complex and one of the most amazing. On the second day I actually get up earlier than the first day and make the following pictures and a timelapse:


It is amazing to see the sun rising and the reflection on the water. It´s worth it to get up early – really early.
Angkor wat is awesome and hard to describe. It is difficult to transport the atmosphere of that places with photos, you should go there by yourself.
Monks can be tourists, too.


The gallerie of bas-reliefs tells whole storys from ancient times.