Asia

Angkor Wat’s Best Kept Secret

If you’ve visited Angkor Wat, then you know you’re supposed to get up at the crack of dawn to go see the sun rise behind the temple.  Most travelers will stay and watch the sun rise for a while, but if you enter the temple at first light, while most people are still watching the sun, you will have almost the entire temple to yourself, and the opportunity to take a unique advantage of having few people around. 

The area at the top of the Wat, just at the base of the five pillars that decorate the top of the Wat, is normally inaccessible to the general public.  The stairs leading up to the top of the Wat are blocked off with a gate and security guards enforcing the “Do Not Enter” Sign.  Well, as Anna and I were wandering the temple grounds, we eventually had found ourselves viewing the inner chambers towards the back of the Wat, with no one around except for three teenage boys.  We were nearby the stairs leading to the top of the Wat, when we saw these three British boys handing over some money to a security guard standing nearby, and then jumping the fence to climb the stairs (Only in Asia could you bribe a security guard to let you enter a blocked off area).
Obviously, we knew right away we had to get in on this, so we called up to the boys to ask how much they had paid. They yelled back down to us that the guard had wanted five dollars  each but they bargained it down to three dollars  per person.  So we signaled to the guard we wanted to go too, handed him our three dollars, (he knew there wasn’t room to raise the price after the boys had just paid three), jumped the gate, and started to climb the very steep stairs to the top of the Wat.
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Here we go…

Being up there was incredible! We had the entire roof of Angkor Wat to ourselves.  Yes, the British boys were wandering around somewhere, but the roof was so large that we hardly even saw them.  On the roof of the Wat you continue to see much of the same things you see around the rest of the Wat. Buddha statues, interesting wall carvings, but the best part of being up there was just being able to sit underneath the massive pillar that garnished the top of the Wat.
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From up here you can get a better look at the carvings on the Wat’s pillars

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Being dwarfed by the Wat

By far the coolest part was when we were able to walk out on the very edge of the Wat!  It was so beautiful.  Standing up there you could look out at all the people pouring in the front entrance, knowing that you had your private roof tour for the grand total of $3.
By far my favorite picture:
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Living on the edge (of Angkor Wat)

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