The next day I had to get up at around 4.30 am and get ready for my drive to AngkorWat at 5.15 am. The driver was already there by 4.45 am and the hotel receptionist was very kind enough to give me a cup of espresso to wake me up fully 🙂
Handed with my wide angle lens which I did get just for this sole purpose, I made my way to see my van and the driver (the guy who was our guide the previous day too) ready and waiting. I am not sure if he really did take a good sleep. I was asked to get my ticket (which we purchased the previous day which included a 3 day tour to all the temples in Siem Reap. Some are excluded but since we were only going to those that were included it was all good for us. But you might want to check the temples and your wish list to make sure you don’t miss any and the cost was around 40$ for each and make sure to carry Cash…no credit cards) without fail and when we entered the AngkorWat area, they do a check of the van and that of the ticket and punch it (and I can still come back later for a full tour) and we were on our way. The driver dropped me at the entrance and asked me to come and find him in the parking lot (I always make sure to remember the car/van number plates so that it will help me find the vehicle easily.) I wasn’t even sure where to go and what to do. All he told me to do was ‘just keep going straight and inside’. It was so dark that I couldn’t even see one step from another. I switched on the mobile torchlight and simply followed the crowd there. Good that, that I did 🙂 I was taken to the big temple entrance. There I kept following the people with my small torch light and finally had to choose between going to the left for a bigger pond or to the right for a smaller one. I chose the bigger one because it was closer and even though there was a crowd, I could still be close to the pond and get a full view. Not the one you would ideally get, but then I ain’t having big cameras or tripod and I ain’t professional. So I left those spaces for the professionals and took my small and tiny place towards the right end and was content with that. And then the wait began. I already know it was a cloudy day because the weather app in my phone keeps updating me from now and then. But I thought I would see the Sun somewhere between the clouds, but it was not meant to be that day. But none the less, the silhouette of the temple slowly coming in to the picture with the time passing by was something I would relish forever. It was my dream come true 🙂 Finally I was there after so many failed attempts to be at this temple seeing the Sunrise view of the place, coming to life even with the clouds.
It was already 6 by the time the full temple was in view and I was already crouching down to allow the other people at the back to take their photographs. The pond there wasn’t well maintained so there were lot of mosquitoes also. So better to have the insect repellent cream in case you were planning to be there for longer and to take a towel to sit (I was standing/squatting there just because of that) After around 6 am I started walking away and to take pictures of the other side and that of the crowd that was still gathered there. I had to get back to the hotel so that I can get ready for my tour at 9 am. So went around clicking some more photographs and finally walked back to the parking lot and took some time figuring out the van and finally caught him and we were back to the hotel. Thanked the guy for driving me up early and went back to make sure my friends woke up and were getting ready. When I reached, the receptionist asked if I would like to have my breakfast. Since I failed in taking a nap, I went ahead with his plan and had my breakfast by 7 am.
And again at 9 am when my friends gathered for breakfast, I was offered coffee (they really were very nice people, I say) and some desserts if I wanted. I accepted the coffee and we were ready for the small tour with our guide who was waiting since 8 am for us. Again the small tour is because we will be covering very less temples, and within in a smaller radius but these temples would take more time because they are quite large.
The first stop was Angkor Wat. The security had to make sure that I had come earlier for the Sunrise tour. And then we went to the other side of the temple so that we can complete the tour at the front end. The driver dropped us and went to wait for us there. The guide started explaining us all the details of the history and the various religious changes that happened , which we were aware a little bit. He also quizzed us on the various mythological references 😉 He was little strict that way, which I am not sure I appreciated. It is supposed to be fun right ? But then I had to my thing, so I was on my way clicking photographs.
This is the wall which depicts the various beliefs and also the Samudra Manthan event. According to their beliefs they have 32 hells and 37 heavens (at least that is what the guide told us). The sculptures here were too good. Had lots of fun clicking them. Also there were too many beheaded Buddhas over there. And this is a Hindu Temple, as is obvious with the structure and the absence of the faces in the temple. It was quite a big temple and it was too hot. Apparently you shouldn’t wear anything which shows off your shoulder or your legs. I had worn a sleeveless but had a shirt over it just in case. But then looking at the queue that was there for the main temple to go up and come down (which they do send only in small batches) we decided to skip it because it was already way too hot and no one was particularly interested to wait for another 2 hours in the queue and go up and come back down.
The one other thing I didnt like about that guide was that he was trying to dictate me to take photographs in certain angles in certain places. He wasnt happy that I was wandering on my own. I am not the one to stick to a place to take just the usual photographs. It took some time for him to realize that. And as usual, I went on to do what I got to do. And he ignored me. Not that I thanked him for some of the photographs which were good. But then I don’t like it when others sort of take control of that. But then we went ahead with the whole temple. There was a room where you can go in and face the roof and touch your back to the wall and hit your chest hard enough for the sound to echo and they say that this action would remove you of your sins 😉 So for sure L and I did that, except that these friends of mine, made me do it twice just because they didnt photograph me the first time. Hitting yourself like that in your chest that hard really did take my breath away. I am not sure if the sins went away, but my breathing sure did for a few seconds 😛 After spending for almost 2 hours there, we went back to the main entrance, where I had been for my Sunrise trip and were on our way to the Bayon, which is part of the Angkor Thom.
The next stop was through Angkor Thom to Bayon temple. Obviously this is a Buddhist place, because we have the Shivalinga’s inside too along with a Buddha Statue which was being used for worship. You can see the way the idols were moved around and one replacing the other. There were so many small temples or roof structures with faces, it was so amazing. And the way they showed emotions too 🙂 I really like them. After walking and taking photographs of those, the guide asked us to stand in a place for him to take a picture which he was sure we would like. As usual C and A didnt opt for those. So L and I went for it. It was the picture of us trying to touch / kiss one of the face’s nose 😉 L’s came out as if he was trying to nose budge the face and mine came out as if I was trying to kiss the nose 😀 It was fun. No idea if the guide got scandalized by the way it turned out. But I was glad, it was different. Again, it took around 45 mins or so for us and there were so many things that we could photograph there. The small rocks over there were arranged in odd numbers based on people’s beliefs. After that, the next stop for us was Ta Prohm.
Now with these photographs you would have known that this is the place that comes in Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider movie. It did look like it might rain anytime when we landed there. But thankfully, the rain gods did wait until we were done with the place. The place was amazing and the other thing that made me smile was that this was being restored through Indo-Cambodian collaboration. How awesome is that 🙂 Mostly to promote the tourism, but still its good to see that.
It was a huge place and these huge trees holding the buildings looks so amazing. Can’t get enough of these actually. Most of the parts are still in restoration phase so one part of it is cordoned off, but the rest of it where we find these trees are accessible and we had to make sure to be ahead of a huge group before they got there and hog the place all for themselves. Rude of us, but then we were just 4 of us and they were a pretty huge group. You can feel the mold of the place and how old this place actually is by the rest of it. Loved it, just loved it. If one I had remembered some shots of Tomb Raider and posed for those 😉 (Yup, I like Angelina Jolie and I like this place, so that would have been a better way to make a memory naa ? )
Once we were done, by the time we were about to come to the entrance, it started drizzling. We almost ran to our van. With Ta Prohm, the small tour came to an end. And it was time for our lunch. They took us an other Cambodian Place and we had our Amok’s from there along with the Beer (Angkor Beer). And after the relaxed lunch, the guide took us for some shopping, which we werent very fond of. Especially to a jewellery place. They were dealing with Silver and stones and it was oh so costly. He was trying to persuade us to get some souvenirs and that his other Indian customers are very fond of this place. But little did he know that we didn’t come from that kind of money and also none of us are really a fan of jewellery in the first place. And we already got our souvenirs in the form of fridge magnet for a dollar 😉
After 10 mins in that place, we told him that it was time to go back to the hotel and we were driven back to the hotel. He knew about the place well enough, being a native of the place. All was good with him, except that he was a little pushy and didn’t give us enough time of our own. Once back , I was damn tired being awake since 4.30 am but then we went ahead to relax for sometime and then decided to go to the Pub Street so that I can enjoy the same shots (drinking shots) my friends had the pleasure of enjoying the previous day. Since I had already completed my souvenir purchase, the rest decided to get it that day from Pub Street.
We left around 6 pm, and went around the place, having shots, making fun, running my mouth off (which is becoming a daily event nowadays) and drinking some more, singing out loud for the songs that were playing in a bar, making fun, taking photographs. You name it. We did manage to go around and get some more fridge magnets too. And finally decided to have the tequila shots and head back home after 4 hours of drinking and having fun around the various bars of pub street. A total pub hop it was. While doing the shots, finally had some very emotional moments between us (which happens when we were really drunk) and got ourselves a Tuk Tuk and I was almost half asleep on the way. I seriously dont remember what all I confessed to my friends that day, but I know they are good friends because what was said there, would remain there 😉
We had to get out of Cambodia the next day, so I had already kept my alarm for 4 am because our flight was at around 8.30 am. When we got to the hotel, we made sure to make the necessary payments so that nothing will be done the next day when we are checking out, along with the van for our airport drop too. We included the payment for all the tours that we got done through them too along with tips. And by 11 or so we finally made our way to our rooms, all tipsy and giggly. But it was awesome and total fun. I was glad that I could finally see this place. I might go come back to this place after some years or so and stay for longer period and include Phonm Penh too. It always feels good when you are able to visit your dream place. And I ticked one off my list, with the hopes that I will come back again.