Unfortunately, Angkor Wat will have to be split up into two parts. I’ll get to that in a bit (seems to be a theme of mine, trying to keep you hooked).
Our driver from the airport, I believe his name is either Yaaa or Yaaar (obviously I don’t know the spelling) misunderstood when exactly we wanted to hire him. Our first impression of him when he picked us up is that he’s a very nice, honest, kind dude that also spoke English very well. We decided we would use him for all our travel needs.
Anyway, like I said, there was a miscommunication and the poor dude showed up at our hotel on our third day here at five am. We obviously weren’t going anywhere because it was five am and whoever invented that hour for doing stuff other than going to bed after a night of partying is a sadist. There are certain things that are okay to be doing at five am, but STARTING to do things at five am is not one of them.
So after the snafu, we need to know how much punishment this poor dude will take by being exposed to us, so we hire him again. As a way of apology, we buy him twelve Ferrero Rochers. Yes, like a twelve year old getting her period for the first time, we buy him chocolate. In our defense, who doesn’t like Ferrero Rocher?
This purchase is made after we thought eating Cambodian Mexican food was a good idea. This plays out later in the day.
This morning, 4:30am, we rise, we’re ready, and we’re in the lobby at 5:03 to meet Yaaa. Sweet dude is just happy and nice all the time. The peace offering of Ferrero Rocher is given. I can almost hear him think “what the hell?” but gentleman that he is, he accepts the chocolate heaven graciously.
We were toying with the idea of giving him oranges, but I was haunted by the Seinfeld episode where George keeps giving the Japanese TV executives oranges and they were very confused by the gesture.
The reason we’re up so early is because we’re told it gets too hot after noon and it’s a good time to see the sunrise over the temple. Apparently, hundreds of other people are told this as well. We don’t have tickets so we go to the place to buy tickets. Me being an ignorant tourist, thought we could just walk to the front of the temple and get a ticket with popcorn and large soda. Not the case. You go to a building slightly off route and you don’t pay for just the one temple, you buy passes in one, three, or seven day varieties. This grants you access to most of the temples as well as making it seem like you’re going to temple Six Flags.
Learning this brand new information, we opt for the three day passes while we’re in the lineup for the one day pass. Problem is, we don’t have enough money for a three day pass. Buses are coming in and the lines are getting longer. We jump out of the line to go to the ATM where we watch a guy seemingly enter his PIN in wrong three times. He gives up and leaves. Stupid tourist. Jays turn.
Bank declines her. Tries again. Declined. I try. Declined. I shoot the machine the finger before jumping back into the even longer line for the one day pass. One day is better than not affording three days. Jay asks an employee if there’s another ATM kicking around and he points us to one. We jump out of line again to find this machine is out of order. Are you kidding me right now?
We go back to Yaaa who drives us to an ATM. It’s the same bank we just dealt with and it’s obvious the bank has something against us. We move on to another one. It’s the fourth ATM we try that decides to show mercy and spits money at us. Huzzah! We run back to the tuk tuk, drive back to the ticket place, get in line, get our tickets and our picture taken (picture goes on your pass card), and we’re off to the temple.
We arrive at Angkor Wat just as the sun is rising behind it. The view is great. Yaaa says he’ll meet us at nine so that gives us about three hours.
Fast forward a bit to when we leave: Before the entrance to the temple, there’s a few shops and what seems to be a massive parking lot filled with tuk tuks. The drivers of which seem to be waiting for their passengers who have gone to the temple. I really didn’t want Yaaa to do this. I wanted him to drop us off and go grab other fares and make some money. Just be back in time to pick us up. Nope. He was right there for us, waiting, when we got out. I’ll bring this up tomorrow. Tell that boy to go make some dollah dollah bills!
Before embarking on the path to the temple, we take pictures of the sunrise. A tour guide approaches us and starts telling us things about the temple. They’re interesting of course, but we have no need for a tour guide. We’re better off left to our own devices, to explore and do what we want to do, when we want to do it. While inside the temple, we stand next to a couple with a tour guide and the guide tells them what to take a picture of. I don’t need that pressure in my life.
So we manage to sidestep the guide and while Jay is trying to take a picture of me standing in front of the temple, she realizes she might be blocking the picture of a Japanese man behind her. Jay, being awesome, apologizes and moves to the other side, allowing him to get his shot. Then he points his camera at ME and tries to get a picture. Yeah, that was weird. Flattering in a totally creepy way, but still very much weird.
There’s a long walkway to the temple filled with tourists and surprisingly, some seem to be leaving already. It’s surprising that so many people are here already and that so many people are leaving before the sun is completely up.
We play tourist. We start taking pictures of each other and the structure and ask people to take our picture. Then we go through the walkway to discover we’re not even at the temple yet. We’ve just taken dozens of pictures of the gateway that leads to the actual temple.
The temple proper is breathtaking. The architecture and details are fascinating. What got me the most is that it was all built by hand and I wonder how people lived here. If I lived there, “Carey, go get Johnny for me.” My reply, “you go get him, I just walked from there to here and I’m not going up all those goddam steps again. Would it kill someone to make a flat temple?”
To the best of my knowledge, we’re almost done our adventures. There’s a thirty minute wait to get to what I’m guessing is the top part and then I think you’ve seen it all. There’s no breeze here so my shirt is completely stuck to me, maybe even forming into me and becoming me. I don’t know where the shirt ends and where Carey begins. It’s chaffing my half eaten nipple. It’s at this point the Cambodian Mexican food has decided to send Jay a reminder of just how bad a decision it was.
We turn and start speed walking out. There’s no washrooms in the temple, which brings up a whole new set of questions of what people used to do that lived here long ago. I find it hard to believe some dude had to make this long walk back to leave the temple multiple times a day every time he had a chimichonga.
Poor girl. We make it to a coffee shop just in time. The rest of the day is a no go. Understandably, Jay’s not in the condition to carry on and my raw nipple is trying to cut through the fabric of my melded shirt to free itself.
To Yaaa’s credit, he offered to come and get us later and take us back to Angkor Wat or another temple. He could’ve easily just agreed to call it a day and collected his money, but he genuinely seems to want us to have a good time. He genuinely seems to care. I want to make him my friend.
For tomorrow, we booked him again to take us back to Angkor Wat so we can finish it off and then take us to Angkor Thom which is the abandoned city that also has some temples in it that are supposed to be rad.
On another day we’ll check out the temple where they shot Tomb Raider and also a floating market.
This trip has been constant learning experiences. What we learned today is to not have Cambodian Mexican food and expect to do something with your time. It was really tasty though.
More pics of that day