The alarm kicked in at around 4.30am and we gathered downstairs at the hotel at around 5 ready to travel by van the 15 minutes or so to Angkor Wat. Entrance ticket price for the day was 20 usd which would cover access to all the temple areas located within this vast site, but that is not why we were here so early.
As we sat on the wall looking into darkness across a wide body of water, it wasn't long before the sillioutes of the famous structures started to distinguish themselves against the brightening sky. Sharper at the front with the towers further back veiled by a light morning haze and light colour pockets through gentle clouds reflecting in the water. It made the obscene bordering early morning rise completely justified.
After 30 minutes or so, Dawn had finished doing her thing and we left her and headed back to the hotel to clean up, have a spot of breakfast and get a few things ready to return for a day around the temples. Breakfast consisted of plant scrambled eggs (we think this meant plain) with a fresh baguette and an iced coffee, for which I think I may have developed an addiction. The closer I get to Vietnam though, the more concerned about the ice I get, so will get my fix whilst I still can.
Back at the temples it was hot and close. I sweated a lot over the next few hours wandering in, out, around and over stone structures, and studying the reliefs carved into many of them. One particular row contained images of what we would recognise as dinosaurs, including a very definite image of a stegosaurus, quite remarkable when you consider that building here was taking place around 1200ad.
One nice tidbit of information garnered from our guide was that the lonely planet and other guide books often describe this area as being "Abandoned", but this was down to a rough literal translation at the time that the site was rediscovered. The amount of people living in and around Ankor Wat during its peak was around 1 million, but rather than simply being "abandoned" as we would put it, the population died over time due to starvation. So we stopped to eat, history should not be repeated.
After a spot of lunch we headed for the iconic structure of Angkor Wat, with dominant pointed tower surrounded by 4 more sightly smaller ones. The moat that surrounds is an engineering marvel at 100 meters across and the wide bridge that crosses it has no barriers or railings that would be forced upon it if it resided in a health and safety conscious country, but no one fell in whilst were there, no one was so daft to go close enough to an edge without railings.
We wandered and sweated again, in around over and though the heavy air and stone structures before heading back across the moat towards the coach. The exiting crowds scrutinised intently from a side wall by a monkey the size of a 4 year old child on anabolic steroids. Suddenly, his gaze fixed and he moved with purpose through the crowd snatching a silver packet from a young girl which she reluctantly released when the monkey threateningly bared its curved dagger like incisors. It was a little sealed packet of sweets and the monkey had recognised the packet. Angkor Wat monkey steals candy from a baby. Tourist gives babies father a dollar to get more candy. Baby grows up with bad teeth. Bad tourist.
We head back to the hotel where everyone heads off in their own direction for a few hours and some of us decide to meet a little while later to go into town and have a bite to eat and maybe visit the night markets for a little shopping.
The shopping never really happened.
As we sat down in the evening to enjoy our meal the rains came and came in heavy leaving us with no option but to sit and try an assortment beverages and soak up the pleasing atmosphere rather than the moisture outside. We drank, we relaxed, we talked and we drank the next new hours away before eventually the rain relinquished its grip and we headed back the short distance back, the girls tuk took tooks, me an roomy strolled it.
On the way we spotted a small little bar with a couple of pool tables sat just inside the front doors. Before we had even made it to get a drink we were jumped on by a couple of young ladies who seemed quite forward, obviously a different culture and I immediately felt uncomfortable. We got a couple of drinks and one of the girls asked if we wanted to play pool, I hadn't played in a while but I'm quite sure the game rules are roughly the same, although I wasn't ready the distraction techniques deployed of legs on tables as you go to take a shot and other similair techniques.
Their tactics seemed to work though, it was the worst I had ever played. I blamed the lack of chalk.
I lost the game but was starting to feel that maybe I was in a bit more trouble than I had first anticipated. "You Very handsome" confirmed my suspicions and I paid for my drink before dusting my heels and making a hasty exit back onto the rain soaked streets, leaving my roommate contently chatting to another mixed group. I think he was more comfortable at losing at pool than I was.