‘Will you be here by 5 AM tomorrow?’, I asked Phiya, the Tuk tuk Driver who had taken me around from Banteay Srei to Angkor and most other temple complexes on day 01 of my second visit to Angkor in two months. He was more reassuring than my skepticism of him. Bidding him a bye I headed to my room in the Hotel; same Room no 426 I had requested the Hotel staff through my email a month prior. It indeed was 426. And I took an elaborate hot water bath and went to bed. No sleep though, in spite of a very tiring day. Around nine went down to get some dinner. Only vegetarian and no liquor.
Earlier that day it was one of the Holiest of Indian festivals of Mahashivaratri; the day dedicated to the Lord Shiva. I had not known whilst booking that 24th of Feb is the Mahashivaratri. It fortunately turned out to be so. And I had begun my tour with Banteay Srei Temple; dedicated to Lord Shiva only. The beauty can be such enchanting; the artwork so intricate, I had only heard, never seen. This masterpiece in a pink sandstone is matchless in its class of work and divine in its presence, to state the least. The next day, my last of the two days there this time round was for this early daybreak at Angkor besides a few other queries to be resolved. That’s why my skepticism with Phiya.
Phiya was there at the very entrance as I got out of the Hotel at 5 minutes to 5 AM. He took me to Angkor Wat in that crisp morning air. Absolute darkness at an unknown place was not intimidating as it used to appear to me as a child back home. Rather, it was a feeling of serenity. There I met another guide SuPhia; call me Phia, his refrain. He took me to the left pool where there were a few thousand already there. I felt I was one of the stragglers at that moment for they might have arrived there at least an hour before I did.
Early mornings I had been told by someone, were the most sought after moments in order to capture the riot of reds and oranges and the copper hues of the rising sun. People wait there for over an hour in right earnest to capture the first rays and there they were at least five thousand of them. There were the chinese as usual, europeans and one Indian family too besides myself; their mobile phones showing as if fire-flies hovering all over. There were some serious photographers like I with latest camera equipment having set themselves at the crucial spots along the left pool. I also slowly slipped to a good place and waited for the first rays to appear.
I took at least 50 pictures till the sun came fully out of the clouds over the next about one hour. But the most I liked was of a rather blue sky with clouds hanging above The Temple with just a mere trace of orange ray showing itself through at the base. I thought the mother was defying once again the laws of Physics. VIBGYOR’s frequency and amplitude theory had apparently been turned on its head. I loved this set of colours rather than the usual reds. Reflection trough the pool made up for any deficiency. I again found myself lucky and the effort worth it.
My mission accomplished, I followed Phia inside the Angkor Wat complex as I had many things to take a relook at, to get me more pictures and learn more; get amazed even more.