Have you ever happened to chase a sunset or a sunrise in one of your travels? Have you ever scrambled, have you ever done whatever it took just to capture that perfect photo? And minutes before the climax, have you ever felt raindrops on your face? And thought that the rain has ruined your chance to a shot of a perfect sunset? But what if the rain got to transform that long craved sunset into something magical? Well, this is what happened to us when we tried to capture an Angkor Wat sunset in Cambodia.
It’s very hard for me to describe Angkor Wat. Because it’s one of those places which you must feel and live for yourself. We had moments when we felt as if we were floating in a fairy tale or that we’d traveled back in time. But we also had moments when we felt as if we were sitting in a Hollywood shooting stage. However, today I will not share our Angkor Wat experience, but the day we literally chased a sunset.
It all started with a rather silly conversation…
We had a day when we felt tired from all those temples. Our eyes were drooling for some rest (yes, a three-day Angkor Wat tour can get you pretty tired, I will tell you about this). So we woke up early in the morning and decided to have a relaxing day. We wandered around Siem Reap, had massages (there were more than one), got to relax. We even did a cooking class, a pretty delicious one!
Right when our relaxation hit sky-high, we decided to have ice cream. And it was then that we realized that the sunset was near. And we both knew that we still had one entry left to the temples, so we could have easily caught an Angkor Wat sunset. But we had also seen the tons of photos on the internet with tourists packed like sardines and desperate to catch the famous Angkor Wat sunset. However, I need to give you our conversation (more or less dumb – we were too relaxed for an intellectual one):
“The sun’s about to set!” I told Vlad enjoying our ice creams.
“Do you want to go and see just why an Angkor Wat sunset is so famous?“
“I don’t feel like going. Remember the photos with the crammed tourists?”
“Yeah, you are right. And it’s also so hot and it’s so nice here!”
“And it would make no sense to start fidgeting now just for half an hour at the temples.”
“Don’t worry, I bet it’s not that big of a deal. Besides, rain is coming!”
“Yeah, rain is definitely coming! There’s no point. But I wonder if we could get there in time?”
“I don’t think it’s more than 15 minutes from here. Let’s pay and find a tuk-tuk!”
“Come on now, hurry! Or we will miss the sunset!“
In the quest for the incredible Angkor Wat Sunset!
We immediately hopped on a tuk-tuk, saying desperately that we wanted to catch the sunset at Angkor Wat. The driver, a very nice young man, looked at the sky and started laughing. A bunch of scary clouds threatened to ruin our plans. But we asked him to hurry because we would surely get something, at least some sunset leftovers.
He left in full throttle and the three of us started laughing because we were pretty sure that we were going there for nothing. I, for example, couldn’t stop laughing because I also realized how in less than 5 minutes we went from “the Angkor Wat sunset is overrated” to “hurry or we will miss the sunset!”
We got there, and the wind was already blowing like hell. Our tuk-tuk driver left us at the entrance and showed us where he would be waiting for us. We managed to take a photo at the entrance to the complex, but I looked a bit disfigured from the unbearable wind. (In these types of situations I really wish for some extra pounds here and there for stability! BEING SLIM IS OVERRATED).
Right after we took the photo, the clouds had a nervous breakdown. A downpour started and until we reached the exterior gallery of the temple we were soaked! We took shelter together with the hundreds of tourists and we were taken aback by the views.
That moment when you cannot believe your eyes
Right in front of us was the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen. The sun was making room behind a thick layer of dark clouds and the rain created an incredible view. When we looked on the other side, towards the temple (because the temple faces the sunset and not the sunrise), it had a completely different color than the day before. The clouds had completely covered it.
The tourists were nervous to capture the perfect shot. Here and there a Buddhist monk appeared and his clothing colored the views. It was a ferocious yet short rain. As such, in 15 minutes the rain stopped and we could enjoy the intense colors.
Even though the rain was short, it was enough to take some magical shots. I bet that if the sky had been clear, it wouldn’t have impressed us so much. But because we got to go through so many emotions and because the rain played with colors, that Angkor Wat sunset got stuck in our heads. We came to the conclusion that in some places, rain can create magic.
As such, we learned our lesson not to underestimate some touristic cliches. And to enjoy each moment. Because, after all, perfection is something subjective. In our case, an Angkor Wat sunset was not about clear blue skies. The fierce rain, the angry clouds, the tremendous wind and the hundreds of nervous tourists were actually the ingredients for an unforgettable sunset.
What about you? Where did you get to experience the most wonderful sunset of your life?