Published: August 7th 2007March 27th 2007
A 5:15AM rise isn't so different from a 4:15AM one, but it needed to be sucked up for archaeology's sake. We caught dawn at Ta Prohm, as featured in "Tomb Raider" and the site chosen by the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient (the organisation involved in much of the preservation of the complex) to be left in as natural a state as possible so that people could see what Angkor was like when it was "rediscovered". Silk-cotton and strangler fig trees have insinuated themselves into the masonry at various points, creating striking images but also weakening the building structure. In the quiet of early morning, it was most atmospheric.
Briefly visiting Pre Rup and Ta Som, we then arrived at Preah Khan. One of the virtues of "Ancient Angkor" was that it gave detailed descriptions of what you could see in each temple, as well as instructions as to how to best navigate them. Unfortunately the "standard" approach in the book was not always the one to which our driver took us. Preah Khan was a case in point. After finding little correspondence between what we were seeing and the description in the book , LA Woman suggested maybe we'd come
Ta Prohm - Gopura III West, between South wall of porch and East wall of main body
in from the east and not the west. Needless to say, that was correct. I ceded navigation duties on the spot.
After a quick whiz through Thomannon and Ta Keo, we decided to call it a (half) day and returned to Siem Reap. It had definitely been a more manageable session than yesterday's all-dayer.
Siem Reap has thrown up some more astounding transport that I'm hoping I'll catch on camera at some point. I've seen several pigs being transported by motorbike, strapped to a stretcher on the back. And though it's commonplace to see people riding on the roofs of pick-ups and trucks, I was staggered to see one guy actually sitting on the bonnet (fortunately - for everyone else's sake - not in front of the driver).
There are more photos below