Tag Archives: sunrise

Part #6: Waking Up at the Crack of Dawn to See Dawn

Part 1: Road to Arches
Part 2: Arches Galore
Part 3: Delicate Arch
Part 4: Hiking Dead Horse Point
Part 5: Canyons For As Far As The Eye Can See

We were determined to see sunrise at least once on our Utah trip. Really, really determined.

So we set our alarms for 4 a.m. We snoozed once, cracked our eyes open, and groaned.

“Do you want to get up?” I mumbled.

“Whatever you want,” my sister mumbled back.

I contemplated closing my eyes and falling into an oh-so-tempting sleep. And then I thought of those magnificent pictures of Utah’s arches ablaze in the rising sun you see in every gift shop, and I said, “let’s go.”

Spoiler alert: My pictures do not look like the famous photos you see in National Geographic. Sigh. I think we misjudged exactly where the sun would be relative to the arches. That, and I’m not actually a professional photographer. But waking up at the crack of dawn is a good way to get pictures of Moab’s famous arches without a throng of tourists in the way.





You can see the moon!





In order to get a shot Turret Arch framed by the North Window, I had to do some tricky climbing to a spot behind the Windows. Probably not the smartest thing, but I survived in one piece.





And of course, goofy, I’m-exhausted-and-can’t-be-held-responsible-for-my-actions pictures.



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Part 3: How to See Angkor Wat

Part 1: When You Wake Up at 3 AM for a 6 AM Flight…
Part 2: Only 18 Hours to Go

For many, seeing Angkor Wat is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. And so, I wanted to make sure we did it right.

I did a lot of research on the best way to see Angkor Wat: Bicycle, tuk-tuk (a motorcycle pulling a carriage), or a personal driver in an air-conditioned Camry. Bicycle was obviously the cheapest and tuk-tuk seemed kind of adventurous, but in the end, my Western sensibilities prevailed and I had the hotel hire a driver and guide for $35 apiece for our for first day in Angkor Wat

And boy, am I glad I did. The guide was nice but not essential. He helped us navigate the sprawling complex that is the Angkor temples and provided us with historical information we never would have known. But the driver… the driver was a lifesaver.

When we woke up at 4:30 a.m. (yes, 4:30 a.m.) it was a balmy 70 degrees outside, but in three short hours the sun was up and hot. The air-conditioned car with a fresh supply of ice-cold bottled water was amazing. Best decision EVER.

You can probably find a driver for cheaper, but having the hotel do it was easier than reading a gazillion reviews on Trip Advisor. Besides, by American standards, $35 for a private driver is a steal.

Waking up at 4:30 a.m. was not as painful as it sounds. It was only 4:30 p.m. in New York, and our bodies were still more or less on eastern standard time. And there is something special about seeing one of the most famous structures in the world appear under the dawn’s early light. I highly recommend it.






After I snapped a couple hundred pictures (probably not an exaggeration), we ventured into Angkor Wat itself. And while The Boyfriend listened to our guide explain the history of the massive temple, I snapped away.


The carvings are extremely intricate and impressive. I wish I could tell you what they all mean, but like I said, I was doing more snapping than listening.






The complex is huge, and the best way to appreciate its hugeness is to walk around the entire grounds from top to bottom as exhausting as it is.


We meandered about as we waited for the entrance to the third and final level to open at 7:45 a.m.



After that, it was time to start climbing. As tiring as it was to scrambled up these modern makeshift steps, imagine was it was like for the people of old to climb up the incredibly steep stone steps built into the temple structure.


The views from the top of Angkor Wat were incredible.




By then, it was 8:30 a.m. already and we had been up for a good four hours. We were hot and hungry and asked the guide to drive us back to hotel for a quick breakfast. Walking back through the front of Angkor Wat there were a few more fascinating sights along the way:






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