Angkor Wat with A Mob at Dawn

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
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Trip End May 01, 2013


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Where I stayed
Reflections Boutique Hotel

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tuk-tuk picked us at 5am so we could head to Angkor Wat to experience sunrise over the ancient Cambodian temple. Armed with a loose itinerary we pulled up at the ticket booth to purchase our day passes and discovered, having got up so early to miss the crowds, that everybody else had had the same idea.

We made our way in the pitch darkness along the west moat walkway, thankful for the headlamps brought by more organised visitors, we realised just how thankful when Paula walked precariously close to the edge of a sheer drop into the moat itself.

Imagine being woken in the middle of the night and taken to an ancient buriel ground!Inching forward, trance-like, in the dark we became a part of something that felt quite surreal. Surrounded on all sides by shadowy forms, punctuated only by the occasional flash of a camera somewhere in the distance, we moved towards the centre of the complex like zombies in the moonlight.

Finding a good vantage point we clambered over already seated spectators and stood in front of an ancient stone pillar (Paula was chastised by a German woman for being a little too close to her lense and viewpoint). With sunrise only minutes away we readied our camera's for the BIG REVEAL; what we got was a gradual lightening over time and a realisation that the day had slowly bled into the night, the sun had risen without its circular form and orange fanfare being defined as it rose behind the ancient Angkor Wat.

Sleepy with disappointment Vikki went in search of coffee; Lady Gaga introduced herself to Vikki and escorted her to a plastic table and chairs for a coffee laiden with 'Best Cows' evaporated milk which was so thick it formed its own viscous white base at the bottom of the cup. Meanwhile Paula was trying to salvage some photo opportunties of the majestic Angkor Wat as it stood old but proud in its landscape. 

Following the caffeine shot we made our way up some steps and towards the elevated outer gallery that looked out over the western vista. Marvelling at the intricate stone carvings, like geeks, we considered the skill of the stone mason in accomplishing such work and on moving to the inner sanctum we considered our luck at bumping into David Walliams who happened to be viewing Angkor on the very same day and time as us. Paula was quite excited at the coincidence and tried to use our x70 optical zoom to spy through the gap in two columns to take a photo until Vikki convinced her that it wasn't why we were here.

Using the hints in our Angkor Temples guidebook we explored the ruins almost expertly - pinpointing the features of interest and loitering near guided groups to overhear further points of detail. We finally ascended to the central sanctuary where we queued to climb the final staircase to the highest shrine...at the front of the queue we couldn't have timed it better, or could we? Paula was targetted in the queue by one of the attendents because she was dressed like a whore with her shoulders exposed. Unfortunately Vikki had to go in first, alone, and after about ten minutes descended the highly dangerous steps to where Paula was awaiting to quickly swap tops. Now with an extra two inches of chiffon across her shoulders she queued again confident on her ability to enter until Mr Man told her to remove the bandana. Not wanting to miss out a second time around she raised the brow of her bandana and silenced the attendent who stood back and let her through.

Without regailing in minute detail every surface and feature, Angkor Wat was beautiful and the first in a long line of temples we visited that day, some not so outstanding and others that we absolutely loved....

Notable points:

Womens Temple at Banteay Srei - where we learned to never go exploring Cambodian temples in white linen trousers or ill fitting flip flops. On returning to our tuk-tuk afterwards Vikki thought it would be funny to sneak up on our sleeping driver and shout 'wakey wakey', only it was the wrong driver and he was completely startled as other drivers and Vikki stood laughing when they realised.

Ta Prohm - where Tomb Raider was filmed and where we were highly amused at one particular young Italian woman who was posing in some dramatic 80's style positions and with expressions that left us wondering if 'You've Been Framed' might pop out and laugh at our reaction at any moment.

Angkor Thom (and Bayan) - where they have huge stone faces carved in the temple and women touting for incense burning and prayers, Paula was caught by one and offered some prayers and a bracelet to which to donated nothing in return, she felt bad later for offering no moeny but she had "wished for her the world". Vikki was getting templed out by this point; Paula went to the top of another temple in the complex by herself (and got stuck on the roof for a while trying to find the way back down) whilst Vikki sat and rubbed her soles from a distance. We followed this up with a walk to the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King as somehow they seemed fitting...

With one last temple to visit, we climbed into the tuk-tuk and hit the road to get there in plenty of time to end the day on a sunset view over Angkor. Over at Bakeng Temple we started the ascent to the summit on a dirt path that wound up to the site and set up camp on the West side of the temple that overlooked Angkor where the sun wound set in about and hours time. Unfortunately for us an annoying American family came and sat to our right and brought with them a brash loudness that only Yanks can bring which somewhat ruined the moment. Our annoyance reached fever fitch when the mother kept grabbing the rope attached to the rail in front and kept bobbing it up and down to take photo's whilst we were trying to watch sunset.

Sunset was beautiful nevertheless and on its disappearance on the horizon we edged our way back down with lots of cheeping people, some of whom were leaving a few gifts on the floor along the way (including women). Paula contemplated that if Asians ruled the world we would all be swimming in shit and spit.

Having found our tuk-tuk we sped home, back at the hotel we paid up ahead of check out tomorrow and went to the restaurant for a lovely red curry dinner. We tipped our waitresses handsomely for looking after us for a week and got munched on by mosquitoes in the process. We packed our bags ready for the border crossing into Thailand tomorrow and junmped in for a final jacuzzi with bubbles to say goodbye to Siem Reap and Reflections Hotel.

Useless Facts for the Day; 1) Siem Reap means 'Siam Defeated' which is quite inflammatory considering its proximity to Thailand, 2) Cambodians buy their petrol from roadside vendors who sell it in old 1ltr liquor bottles stored on wooden shelves, next to where they stand and smoke!

Hasta La Vista Baby!!
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Comments

annewardell
annewardell on

Thank you for 'wishing her the world'! The Yanks sound awful - they shouldn't be allowed out of America I think!! xxxx

Sue on

Sounds like an amazing day. I loved your description of the sunrise, even though it wasn't what you'd hoped for.

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