Angkor Wat-up?!

Day XLIX – April 6

I set my alarm at 4.30. I’d saved my shower, which I usually take at night when it’s cool enough not to start sweating as soon as you dry off, to use it as a wake-up this morning.
We were able to get those delish coffees to go at the reception. And there we met mr. T, our driver for the day. Last night he was one of the many asking “Go temple tomorrow?” so we agreed on a pick-up.

The east is already starting changing colour so we rush over to Srah Srang. And with a crowd of no more than 10 -all heavily armed with cameras- we watch the sky go purple, pink, orange, pinkish again, until it settles in light blue and yellow over this majestic pond on the outer perimeter of the holy grounds of Angkor with that beautiful forest of palm trees to hide it from the outside world.
Then Mr. T. drives us to Ta Prom and Ta Keo, both so quiet still we even beat the staff at getting there, and have each ‘room’ to ourselves as we explore the rubble and walls still standing with the helping hand of those trees with those long fingers at their base.
We take a half an hour hike to the relatively unknown Ta Nei and have the entire place to ourselves.

So the whole morning couldn’t have been better! The waking extremely early had paid off and we got to experience the best I think this ancient place could possibly offer. To walk alone through the moss- and tree covered ruins of 1200 year old temples, hidden in Cambodia’s forests, carved all over with the stories of Buddha and Vishnu and Shiva and many other Buddhist and Hindu heroes to the morning chant of birds, crickets, geckos and monkeys…
Just to imagine how it must have been when it was a busy inhabited city of kings, all these buildings in their glory. They’re still unimaginably beautiful, now taken over by the hand of nature.
Once again I cannot find the words to do justice to the feeling.

Then we’re driven to this food plaza, and I suppose mr. T. gets a commission for doing so, but even still we’re set with drinks and a plate for just 5$; in the whole of Rome you won’t find it this cheap and that place is nowhere near as sacred is this one.

I suppose after that break we sort of lost our head start, but the route we chose is a rather quiet one so I still manage to keep most of my photos clean. We visit Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som and East Mebon where we climb the several sets of stairs to find an incredible view around the shrine that’s build on top of it in a sort of closed room, with a roof light to highlight the altar in the most magical way.
It’s hardly noon when we walk down the steps, where I’d calculated us to be near sunset. And to be quite honest we’re both a bit templed-out by now.

So instead of watching the sun sink into the earth from atop Phnom Bok (a 212m bump in the otherwise flat lands) we climb it’s 300-something steps in the heat of midday. Also because we’re informed it would be closed to visitors after 4pm.
We found that hard to believe at first, but when we arrive up there we find the explanation in the form of a small (2 pax?) millitairy ‘base’ –no one is home to ask, if that’d even be a wise thing to do- and 2 anti-missile-attack-machines or something Jap suggests they are. I just find it another very controversial image -as I’ve seen so many around Southeast Asia- there, next to a pagoda and an abandoned temple.

After that little workout -first climb since Blue Lagoon in fact- I’m dying for a dive and locals suggested Srah Srang so I ask mr. T. to pull over as we drive passed it on the way back. I get ready –take of my pants to keep them dry but not after putting on my sarong; a girls must always have her knees covered. I’m already being rude wearing a tanktop outside of temples – and walk in to find out the water was is hot; must’ve been about 40°, no joke! So that’s a big flop.

We drive on to Angkor Wat where we give mr. T. 3 hours off and go for a wander, a snooze and a walk over to Phnom Bakkheng for sunset.
During the Angkor Wat stroll we find a section to way up there with a line and officials controlling those who go up. So I put on my sarong, cover my shoulders, make tidy like one’s supposed to. However, they saw me putting it on or something, I don’t know what I did wrong, but I’m not allowed..?
That, and the crowd we ended up in by now, cloud my good mood. So we take the long way around and stroll over the fields outside of the wall, where we find a stunning scenery laid out by these spiders that build tunnel webs. From shore to wall the place is covered in them.

We arrive at Phnom Bakkheng too late and it’s already closed, so after going back and forth we ended up enjoying the sunset from the steps of Angkor Wat again. Still very nice, but we did that yesterday already when we went over to get our tickets, and it’s so crowded here.

Dear mr. T. drives us back to town, to the place we met last night; Pubstreet food court, for awesomes as many as on a day like this makes many hungry!
After, it’s more beers and cocktails and hometown gossip just because we can, while we make the rounds: Angkor What?! Temple Bar… With amazement we stare at those little braceletgirls, 12 years old maybe, dancing like crazy to the loud music, really good, and cute on one hand but quite disturbing on the other. Anyway, they’re having fun, so that’s good.

Unfortunately the internet connection in this end of the world isn’t very consistend. Uploading photos is just not gonna happen today. I can however supply you with the link to my Flickr.

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