It was a 3:30am start to see sun rise over Angkor Wat. We waited for our tuk tuk driver wondering if the coast was clear, or was going to rain like yesterday?.
He arrived at 4:30am bang on time, fresh faced and sporting his new leather fingerless gloves. He knew he was in for a long days riding!
Leaving the city lights behind we were soon in complete darkness, it was quite cool at 5:00am! We arrived at the ticket booth, this place is mad in peak season so they have a high tech ticketing system with photos, and unique codes, and times on each ticket. Maybe 15 mins later we arrived at Angkor Wat.
We stroll down the bridge into the main complex and there are hundreds of people arriving and more ahead of us. Its still very dark as we walk to the area where we are to watch the sunrise. As the sun comes up the size and age of this place is truely striking, at low light its realy quite eerie. The sunrise isnt one of those beautiful rosey skied sunrises we wanted, all we can see is clouds and grey turning into blue. The wrong time of year to see sunrise realy, I believe March is the best! We stayed around the pond area which looked towards the main towers, once we were satisfied with the pictures we had taken we were off to explore.
We first went to Banteay Kdei and the royal bathing pool opposite called Sras Srang.
Next we went to Ta Phrohm AKA "The Tomb Raider Temple" which was where they filmed part of the Tomb Raider. Its also known as the one with the trees, As the trees weave themselves within the temples which looks amazing but they are also detroying the temples slowly.
We next ventured up Ta Keo with its many many narrow steps to a view over the forest which houses the temples. It was beautiful but scorchio!
Our next stop was 2 small temples opposite each other, Thommanom and Chau Say Tevoda. Not so impressive but hoareds of beggar children selling whistles, flutes, flags and bracelets all for a dollar! "Dollar! Dollar! Dollar!" is all you hear. I wound up buying 5 bracelets for $1 just to get rid of them!
We went through 'Victory Gate' into 'Ankor Thom', Which housed 'The Terrace of the Leper King' and 'The Terrace of Elephants'. Also Lils favourite Temple 'Bayon' With 54 gothic towers displaying 216 gargantuan faces Avalokiteshvara.
The one Temple which realy blew Garath away was Ta Prohm.
"The trees seem to grow out of the temple and hold it together with their roots, hugging at the rocks" Garath says.
The day went on for a very long time 3:30am-2:00pm. The experience was in a league of its own. We were gob smacked and wide eyed all day, trying to take in the size of the temple grounds and the atmosphere. There was so much to take in, the engravings, the statues, the many many many temples we didnt even get out of the Tuk Tuk to see as there are Hundreds.
The evening was going to be some what more relaxed. We all decided to meet Suzanne, a girl we meet in Laos, She has been working here at a Hospital for a few weeks now. Non paid work assisting with everything she can, Amputations deadly diseases etc, etc.
We decide to test out the local nightlife. A bar called 'Angkor What?' was offering free t-shirts with 2 buckets, Bargain! We got 2 Tshirts!