Four Thirty... This is an early time to be waking up by anyone's standards. But, my trusty GPS, working purely as an alarm clock these days, managed to get me up as always. Sadly – this would be the last time it ever roused me in the morning.
Travelling by Tuk-Tuk in the pre-dawn hours is a wonderful way to see Siem Reap. Children are already awake, wandering about, or riding on their scooters – far too many to a bike, your only hope that one of them manages to see their next birthday. Couples run together, before it becomes far too hot to even think about such an activity. People move their stalls in the direction of the nearest market. The world wakes, and all things come to life.
Except me. I was still fighting to remain conscious. In Africa this would have been just another day, but this is not Africa, and it is not any other day.
At Angkor Wat I walked, following the pilgrimage of other tourists, looking for the best spot to set up for the view. While they mostly bumbled through the dark, I was prepared with my secret weapon: my head torch! It led me down the walkway, and over to the left hand pond where I had sat to watch the sunset not that many hours earlier. I knew what rock I wanted to sit at, and while many were occupied the one I desired somehow remained free. And the one beside it. I would rest my bag there until I needed to space for my mini-tripod.
Two girls beside me were giving voice to the thoughts I would have had, had they not given voice to them, thus making me find said thoughts obnoxious, leaving me free to enjoy the experience.
“God, what are those two people doing standing there, blocking everyone's view? Could they be more annoying?”
And thus, I was not annoyed by the two people standing there.
“That guy behind us needs to stop singing!”
And thus I didn't mind the singing.
“Really? Is this all? This is the sunrise that people talk about?”
And thus I didn't mind it all that much – though, like the sunset, it is quite overrated. I still don't understand the big draw, but – hey – it's the thing to do. And you don't want to be that one person who says, oh yeah, I saw Angkor Wat – no... I didn't see the sunrise. No, the sunset neither.
Once the light was upon us, I took a quick stroll through the temple for a final time, and then headed back to the tuk-tuk and zipped off on my way.
I started at Preah Khan, which is similar to Ta Phrom – but less visited, as it wasn't featured in a major motion picture. This left it easy to explore, and nearly empty, lended towards a feeling of real exploration and discovery. For a few moments I could channel the feeling that those who came across these temples after so much time had past, must have felt. Mind you, there weren't thousands of people still worshiping here, that I needed to take them away from, but – you know. So interesting to read about how things were “discovered” even though they were never really lost.
After crawling through windows, over carvings, and through piles of rubble, I made my way back to the entrance, where – after fighting off hoards of children trying to sell me all number of things that there was just no way I was ever going to buy – we headed off to what would become my favourite place in Ancient Angkor.
Ta Som. It is not the largest, it is not the most attractive, but for reasons I can not explain, I felt a connection with it. It may have had something to do with the large tree growing over its entrance, or the fact that I was there in time to look around, experience, and leave – just before the Japanese tour bus rolled up. But if I had to pick a favourite, this would be the temple.
Where we headed next fought well for that role, but ultimately failed. There was just something about the wooded seclusion offered at Ta Som. A place to collect thoughts, and allow yourself to abandon all thought to wonder.
East Mebon. I now feel as if I fully understand how Link must have felt, after navigating the Gerudo desert and arriving at the palace there, ready to secure one of the three pendants.
The stones were brilliant reds, and burning oranges. Stairs led up to the peek, between rows of statues. And there, at the landing on top, was a room that could have housed any number of treasures. I lingered here for, perhaps a few moments longer, than I may have otherwise, trying to capture the feeling of the green capped hero as he journeyed throughout his quests. And here – with the sun burning down overhead – I felt as if I could relate that little bit more. For a moment fiction became blended, meshed, bleshed (but baby says it means more) with reality.
And then it was time to pull away. There was so much more to see. Ruins surrounded by water, and others on once great islands, not simply raised above ground over dry lake beds. For some time I explored these areas, until noon when we travelled back throgh Siem Reap.
I had lunch at my hostel, and it was suggested that I rest for a while. I was ready to keep on pressing, but Boidna seemed to think it was a more than important decision. Perhaps he was tired – having been awake long before myself. I accepted, and found myself falling fast asleep. Two hours later my alarm brought me back to life – the final cry in its own tortured existence.
We pressed on to the Eastern temples, the Roluos Group. They are not larger, more impressive, or otherwise more noteworthy than those I'd already seen. But they were different, they were unique, and the drive east of the city through the parts of Siem Reap that the Cambodians would call home, was well worth the time.
Houses were raised on stakes, and roofs were thatched. Here was a different world. Perhaps the one I had come to expect. Which is unfortunate, because when I think of how and where the Cambodians live, I will remember this area, as it is what I had expected to see; I will cast aside everything that didn't fit my mold of preconceptions, unintentional as it may be.
And once more, I gave myself over to climbing, adventuring, and exploring. Wandering up the last temple stairs I turned on my GPS to check the time, and turned it off. Just before I returned to the tuk-tuk I tried to turn it on again. With no luck. I changed batteries, tried batteries from my camera, pushed all the buttons at once in a desperate attempt for something to happen. But nothing. There was only failure. Within fifteen minutes my GPS had decided that it had had enough. That it was done.
This wouldn't be that upsetting – it took me across many places over the years, and led a good full life. But – it is my alarm clock! And now I am without one! Here in Cambodia, with a work site right next door, this shouldn't prove too much of a problem, but... I will need to find something that can rouse me in the future mornings. But where will I find such a device? And in this part of the world, how ever can I be assured that it will work longer than a week or so? Ahh – good times.
I was dropped off at the Blue Pumpkin, and walked from there to the restaurant where I'd eaten last night (only a minute or so away – G5,6 on road 9.) When I had fed on more sausage and rice, this time with a fired egg topping it off, and downed an apple smoothie, I returned to the Blue Pumpkin and headed inside.
I devoured a sunday created within a waffle bowl, with three scoops of ice cream. One each of Orange, Apple (apple ice cream! The Goonies does not lie!), and Jackfruit (surprisingly good), topped in whip cream, with chocolate sauce, and a cherry. It was extravagant, it was unnecessary, and it was delicious. Sometimes spending money just to spend money can be a wonderful thing.
And then I sat around in their lounge, reading, as the time ticked by. And how sweet it was.
Tomorrow will be my final day of temple hopping, and perhaps my camera will be thankful for it. It has been working extra hard within the Angkor Wat complex.
It comes to my attention that I have also lost my blue lather builder (Her Ironside, what's with this thingy?). So I shall create a list.
Things to buy:
1. Alarm Clock
2. Lather Builder (Hey Denetta – what's with this thingy? It's a later builder. Now shut up Booth!)
3. The worst part is that I know there is a three. I'm sure I'll remember it right when it's too late. Good times indeed.