As Lara Croft said in the Tomb Raider movie; there is "no rest for the wicked." We had decided to meet downstairs at 5am for our tour at sunrise of Angkor Wat. When Leslie's alarm went off that morning, I thought there was no way I was getting out of bed. I couldnt' move I was so exhausted. My inability to think of anything other than going back to bed prevented my logical side from screaming "ANGKOR WAT AT SUNRISE!!", and I went back to sleep. She was like we can just go later, we have all day, and that sounded good enough to me. Both of us were laying in bed wishing we weren't so tired because we knew we would regret not getting there at sunrise, but we were just too tired. There was no way we could get out of bed. So we decided to stay in bed for a few more hours. I couldn't fall right back to sleep because I knew how upset I would be for not just getting up to go at sunrise. We were awoken again by a knock on the door. It was the front desk asking us if we still wanted
to go on the tour. We looked at each other and then realized....WE WERE ON SOUTH KOREA TIME! We had woken up at 2am in Cambodian time. It was no wonder we were so exhausted yet! So we scrambled like crazy to get ready and downstairs. On the way to Angkor Wat in our tuk tuk the sky was already getting pink. We were missing it! UGH I couldn't' believe we made such a stupid mistake. After we got our tickets (our picture was taken and printed on them) and rushed to Angkor Wat, there were TONS of people there waiting with cameras. We got there JUST in time. I would have liked to be there for dawn, but I'll do that next time. (And there WILL be a next time, I promise you that) Part of me was disappointed that there were so many people there. I was hoping it would be just me and the temple, not crowded shoulder to shoulder like at Disney World.
It 5am it was already hot and muggy. It was much worse in Saigon though. I had to laugh at the tourists there. Thats exactly what they were. They weren't adventurers or
thrill seekers, they were tourists. Who lined up to take the "perfect photo-album photo" of angkor wat at sunrise, and then they climbed back on their air conditioned tour busses and left. I couldn't imagine, but it was fine for me, since the temples were basically empty while we explored them. And explore them we did.
Of course I stayed to get that picture picture of Angkor Wat at sunrise. I would have loved to stay for one at sunset as well, but, we're in the east...is there even such things as a sunset? Rises in the east, sets in the west? Walking up to the temple of Angkor Wat was exhilarating in itself. It was so big and old and mysterious. We made our way through 17 km worth of temples. I could have spent days there...and that is precisely why I will be returning with my husband one day. ...I do digress.... This wasn't like when you go to a museum or ancient temple anywhere else in the world. Where you walk up to a red rope take a picture, follow the path along the guided tour and then exit the park. This was a create your
own adventure tour, and I was my own guide. It's funny how hein-sight is worth everything! Looking back I would have gone earlier, stayed later, and read more information on the temples. I also would have spent more time exploring every corner of each temple. Plus, having a cooler filled with drinks would have been nice too! I wonder who it was that built these and who it was built for. I say this in regards to the steps that took you from one level of the temple to the next. They were incredibly steep. It was about as completely vertical as they could have been built!
It's hard to describe how breathtaking it is inside each of the temples. Since it was so empty at that hour of the morning, all you could hear were birds chirping, and the sounds of the forest. It was hot and muggy, but the air was still. The sun peaked around the towers of the temples. It was so peaceful. Every section of the temples were open. You could climb to the top, inside and out, walk down every corridor through every passage way. There were no limits, to either the temple
or one's imagination. Especially mine, when I thought about the Tomb Raider movie. Yes, perhaps it could be seen as degrading to be in this '8th' Wonder of the world and amidst its tranquility, think of Lara Croft, but that was my adventure. And since i'm the guide here on this tour, that's where my story took me. "To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a while flower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour." (William Blake) The Temples of Angkor make that statement come alive. It may sound silly, but when you go there one day, you'll feel those words.
We had walked through one of the temples, and we approached young men in orange robes. They looked identical to the ones from the Tomb Raider movie. As we walked around the same area as them, the older man they were with interrupted my daydreams.. "excuse me, can we get a picture" and he motioned for the robed boys to come in with us. For some reason in my mind I was thinking "here we go, here's that touristy thing where they charge you for pictures."
MONKEYS!!!There would ahve been a sweet video of this encounter, if only we were rich enough for someone to follow us and capture our lives!! hahaha
He snapped a photo and said thank you and started to leave. Wait! They just wanted a picture with us...why? So of course I threw my camera at him, please, can you take one for us too!? Here we were, strangers meeting in a temple asking for pictures with one another. Such a strange world; im sure both sides walked away from that photo session wondering "why us?"
Returning from that experience we sat back in our tuk tuk to go onto the next spot. "Awww Monkey's!" Leslie gasped. Both of us grabbed our cameras to take pictures as the tuk tuk driver pulled along to the side. As you can tell by the blurry picture of the monkey i have, they didn't stand still very long. They ran, right towards us. They climbed on our tuk tuk and before I knew it I had a monkey on my shoulders and one on my lap. I couldn't believe this was happening. Leslie was shreaking sitting in the seat next to me. And im there going "hey little monkey, please climb on my arm!" haha It was amazing. I couldn't believe I had wild monkey's hanging out with me. "Take
a picture" I shapped at leslie in a "duh" kind of way. The poor girl was just about in a panic attack from these creatures so close to her. One jumped onto her lap, and im pretty sure her heart stopped for a few seconds. I grabbed the monkey by the waste and got it away from her. He went right for my purse. My first thought..."my wallet!" So I snatched my purse and he grabbed my water bottle. I tried to pull it away from him and he would not have that, so he bit me right on the wrist he clamped down. Instincts jumped in there and i put my fingers between my arm and his mouth and ripped his face away from me. I was NOT getting monkey diseases. Thank GOD it didn't break skin. Just a little teeth mark on my wrist and two little scratches from his claws. I don't really remember what Leslie was doing at that moment but I think it was probably "omg...omg..omg..." We told our driver to start driving and the monkeys were still on the roof. He swatted them away and they left us alone and we continued on our
way. Leslie was gaining her breath back and I was bathing myself with the baby wipes i brought haha What an adventure. That was crazy! The best part of that experience was talking about it much later hearing her account of it. "I'm sitting there waiting for your instincts to kick in, like WHY ISN"T SHE FREAKING OUT THAT THERE ARE MONKEYS ON HER?" haha Nah, not me, it was too cool!
Walking throughout all the temples, we saw lots of elephant poop...but no elephants. There isn't much for me to explain further about that, just that we found it odd...
It was getting later in the day. Ok it was only 10am but we had been there for four hours and were dripping in sweat because it was probably close to 100 degrees in the shade, and climbing up and down the temples was exhausting. We had gotten to this one temple deep in the forest, which was very different from the rest. This temple had trees growing from the top and sides of it. Huge trees with great big roots coming out of it. This one had roped off sections which was upsetting. My favorite part
was getting lost inside of them. We realized after we walked through it that it was the temple where all the tomb raider scenes were filmed. Pretty anti-climactic. But it was still pretty cool knowing we were there. In the scene in the movie when the first half of the piece was revealed, and this bright light shone, the one guy remarks that it was "pure light fire and water" all in one. That's how it felt in Cambodia. Bright sunlight, hot as fire and sweating intensely...his statement made sense. Walking back from the temple as always we were bombarded by "hey lady!" "3 for a dollah.." and then by the time we walked three or four more yards "8 for a dollah" These were little girls who couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 years old. It's no wonder Angelina Jolie came here and became obsessed with the country and the children.
We returned to our tuk tuk to head back to Siem Reap. The tuk tuk was an amazing experience in itself. For 25 dollars we had hired the driver for the entire day. He took us around the temple, through the city, to wherever we
wanted to go and watched our bags for us while we were there. One entire day of transportation for 12:50 each. He got a nice big tip from us!
One other thing I should mention from the movie...well a few things actually. First remember how she was shotting the big guy that came alive inside the tomb and then his head like shattered and she was liek "hmmh" and then he spun his head around and there was a second face...yeh we were there and saw that guy..really cool! Also in the movie, the monkeys in the tomb came to life, i'd like to relate that to my monkey attack. I think thats fair, i can claim that! And the main feature of the movie was the "All seeing eye" which wasn't existing at the temples anywhere BUT at the cao dai temple, it was all about the all seeing eye on everything, so it all comes together....
Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, whose Angkor Empire extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Subsequently, attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the ...more info