When you’re traveling on a mission to photograph things you’ll probably never see again, you tend to get very few, if not one, opportunity to capture that moment. And when you’re up at 3:30am to photograph a sunrise of one of the most iconic sunrise spots in the world, you cross your fingers that it’s beautiful.

For me and Brian Matiash, lady luck was definitely on our sides.

We woke up at an ungodly hour, met up with our guide at 4:00 am, drove out to Angkor Wat and he showed us to the best location alongside the pond to set our cameras. And wow, was he spot on. In about an hour the pond was flooded with literally hundreds of other people trying to sneak in and get a few snapshots of the same scene (why people think their flash will actually reach the temple God only knows). Thankfully we had our guide protecting our gear, which was literally right behind us on a mat, preventing us from tourists pushing in too close (we didn’t exactly want to end up in the water). It didn’t stop a woman from pushing her camera in so close that when I turned my head it bumped into it, lol.

But it was all worth it. This, I do believe, was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen … and to compare it to all of the sunsets I’ve witnessed (which definitely outweighs sunrises) it’s still the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.