Attempt 1 at Angkor Wat – Fail
The following day, we woke up just after 4am, ready to be picked up by the TukTuk driver at 5am to watch the Angkor Wat sunrise.
We sped through the streets of Siem Reap, strange smells hitting us in the face and catching in our throats as we drove past. H had been feeling queasy from the get-go and the pungent scent of Siem Reap’s streets was not helping the situation in the slightest.
I took off my scarf and gave it to her to hold over her nose; on one particular street the smell was so strong, even I gagged and grabbed the other end of the scarf to do the same!
Once we stepped off the TukTuk, we were about to join the ticket queue when she promptly disappeared, vomited, came back looking white as a sheet and said she needed to go back to the hotel.
We returned to a slightly annoyed and confused TukTuk driver, attempting to explain that we needed to go back immediately, he wasn’t really understanding what we were saying so it turned into a game of charades with me exclaiming “she’s been sick!” with sound effects and hand gestures to get my point across.
Our accommodation in Siem Reap
The next day she was feeling under the weather still, but we packed our bags and checked out of Secret Garden (it was lovely and had a pool but no vibe), and walked the short distance to the next hostel that H had spotted the other day called TinTin’s.
We checked in to TinTin’s and a girl named Glen with bubblegum pink hair popped in and out to chat with us in-between her graffiti session at the front gate.
I just love a good opportunity for a photo backdrop!
We sat around and chatted over pints of beer, sharing stories and having a laugh with the other guests and staff. That had been the sort of vibe and friendliness that we had been looking for, that we hadn’t got at Secret Garden Hostel.
Angkor Wat Sunrise – Take Two
After drinks that night, we woke up in the morning, got changed quickly and quietly made our way out front to meet the others who were looking a little worse for wear.
We paid for a day pass for Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples, and the TukTuk dropped us off at the entrance to Angkor Wat. We walked across a bridge, chants and drum beats filling the air around us. Most people congregated at a pond in front of the temple.
Slowly, the colours of the sky began to change as the morning light approached. The clouds behind the temple turned a brilliant red and faded from purple to pink as birds flicked through the air. A monkey cried and howled and swung from a rafter somewhere.
After a while, the golden sphere of the sun appeared and rose over the top of the temple and we were cast us into morning…
After some time of staring, we stopped for a very anti-climatic, overly priced breakfast and coffee.
We went for a stroll around Angkor Wat, walking the length of the stone bas-relief that ran along the walls, depicting battles between Gods and demons and then on to the grounds.
After strolling around Angkor Wat, we hopped back in the TukTuk and made our way to The Bayon temple. We drove through a large stone archway and were greeted by what looked like the palace from the jungle book…
Moss covered stone faces beamed down on us. Ivy crept between the cracks, yellow butterflies fluttered passed, landing on my bag and dancing through the air in front of me.
Monks sat at shrines surrounded by clouds of incense and tombstones laden with offerings jutted from the ground. Elephants walked by, adorned in red and gold, carrying people on their backs. Families of monkeys darted in and out of the temple ruins.
Upstairs the crowd thickens, traditional dancers in colourful attire offer photographs with tourists on the stone steps for $1.
We left The Bayon and the driver stopped off at two smaller temples opposite each other. We had a wander around, with only three other people in sight other than the little market stall sellers placed in the space between the two structures.
Afterwards, we headed to the Ta Prohm temple but stopped at another en route. This particular temple was known for having a ridiculous amount of steep stone steps. H was feeling poorly again and I was feeling dizzy with dehydration. We sat that one out in the TukTuk whilst the others explored.
We finally arrived at Ta Prohm, also known as “The Tomb Raider” temple owing to the fact that scenes from the movie were filmed there. We strolled around this place where nature had taken over, marveling at ancient trees and carved stone.
We stopped at one last temple after Ta Prohm. As we approached the entrance, a little girl no older than four or five wandered out with a meat cleaver in hand. Another girl of about three persistently followed us for ten minutes, begging us to buy a pack of postcards.
We wandered around this temple, where H made a blessing at the shrine with a monk. We clambered over rocks and ducked through half collapsed doorways to explore the inner nooks and crannies.
H getting her blessing
After all of that, and Angkor Wat having been on my bucket list for years, it actually wasn’t my favourite temples, which surprised me. Watching the Angkor Wat sunrise was an incredible experience, but I thought some of the other temples such as the Bayon or Ta Prohm were actually much more beautiful.