A 4am wakeup….this time by choice!
I doubt you could find a photographer anywhere in the world that would pass up an opportunity to see Angkor Wat at sunrise! And so it was that we found ourselves in the back of a tuk tuk, cruising down the dark alleyways and streets of Siem Reap, with the cool night air whistling past our faces.
Siem Reap is a different world in the early hours of the morning. The occasional stray dog, lazily meandering out into the middle of the road. Why? Because he can. In another two hours the opportunity will be lost, swamped by the busy hustle and bustle of the waking city. The odd bleary eyed local. Yawning, stretching, as the daily grind turns full circle and begins again. But most of all? Tourists.
The previous day while walking around Siem Reap we were surprised at how few tourists we actually saw. Were they still recovering from the previous night’s excursion down Pub Street? Were they all locked up behind hotel walls, soaking up the rays on a banana lounge, cocktail at the ready? Neither. It turns out they were off exploring temples! This morning we saw hordes of them! Most were in tuk tuks, but there were also quite a few on bicycles, some in taxis, and others in minivans. All of us converging on the lodestone that is Angkor Wat!
The ones on bicycles were the craziest. While it isn’t a long ride to the temple car park (6km perhaps?) a lot of the tourists were obviously keen to get there faster, and in the pursuit of speed, or perhaps just cheap thrills, they would grab onto the rear frame of the tuk tuk as we flew past and get pulled along at a much faster rate than they would ever have managed under their own steam!! While this was pretty dangerous in itself, as a pothole or deviation could easily result in the tuk tuk and bike clashing, it got even worse when one dullard decided that there was room for him to grab the frame near the front of the tuk tuk, placing him directly in front of the bloke hanging on at the back. Front and rear wheels were overlapping and there was so much swerving going on close I couldn’t believe they didn’t hit each other! We all quickly told him in no uncertain terms to bugger off and wait for the next tuk tuk!
Before long we were dismounting at the end of the massive causeway leading to the main gates of Angkor Wat! Our first temple of many for the day, as we completed what is commonly known as the ‘Small Circuit’, comprising:
- Angkor Wat;
- Angkor Thom, comprising:
- Victory Gate;
- Thommanom and Chau Say Thevoda;
- Ta Keo;
- Ta Prom;
- Banteay Kdei;
- Sras Srang; and
- Prasat Kravan.
(can you believe it only cost $12 for the whole day?!)
To break the blog up into smaller pieces, I’ll be doing an entry per temple. Mainly photos, but with the odd bit of commentary where needed.
First up? Angkor Wat of course!!