Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them.
Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and video and posted them to his Facebook account, is a tourist agent for the Apsara National Authority (ANA). He said the images, which have been widely published by online media outlets, were captured from behind the temple.
“I shot them on August 12 at 6:03 in the morning,” he told The Post, adding that he could not explain the phenomenon as he was not an expert in science or archeology.
“I am just happy that I saw the golden temples with my own eyes and was able to share them on social media. I do not want to be famous – I just shared them on my personal account,” he said.
Regarding any mystical explanations, the ANA, which is tasked with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park, said it was likely a natural phenomenon.
ANA deputy director-general Long Kosal told the Post: “We have not discovered a scientific reason for the temple to appear gold at certain times, all we know is that when it happens, it is beautiful.”
As a tip for any tourists who would like to give themselves the best chance of witnessing the golden hue first-hand, he recommended checking the weather forecast ahead of a visit.
Kosal, who was recently called on to clear up some confusion about the use of tripods in the temple grounds, added: “Usually, this kind of bright light happens early in the morning, and late in the afternoon.”
He said he had witnessed a similar golden reflection one afternoon a few years ago.
Along with the plethora of heart reacts Sam Ath received on his post and many comments about the wonderous appearance of Angkor Wat, many people focused their attention on their faith and in admiration for their ancestors who were capable of building such incredible temples.
Regarding Khmer beliefs – from ancient times to the present – psychologist Hoeur Sethul said the builders of Angkor Wat clearly understood natural phenomenon and used their knowledge as the basis for their belief in the wonders of nature.
A day after posting the pictures of the golden temple, Sam Ath said it had returned to their regular appearance of ancient stone.
“After I posted the images, I noticed a number of tour guides and tourists watching the sunrise from behind the temple where I captured the images. That being said, most were still in front of the temple which is the common viewing spot. It is majestic, but the light is not as bright,” he said.
In addition to the rare spectacle of the golden appearance, the Angkor Wat complex has been enhanced to attract both local and international visitors, now that the Kingdom has reopened.
The outer perimeter of the temple has been planted with small and large trees to provide shade and beautify the grounds, while the inner perimeter of the temple features lush green meadows which serve as an all-natural luxurious carpet.