Yes, that’s right. we got up at 4:30 AM VOLUNTARILY. We rode via moto (a motorcylce with a passenger cart attached to the back) to Ankor Wat in total darkness except for headlights. The driver dropped us off, and we stumbled along in total darkness except for our LED flashlights to what seemed like a good place to watch. As we crossed the bridge over the absurdly wide moat, I glanced up to look at the stars and saw a shooting star!! We sat and ate our breakfast (Clif bars and water) and prayed a prayer of Thanksgiving for being in such a beautiful place together.
The sunrise came up oh so-slowly-and-daintily…showing wide, gauzy stripes of pink and purple, and slowly illuminating the sillhouette of Ankor Wat. I glanced down to fiddle with my camera settings and when I looked up, the sun had suddenly illuminated the entire temple with a beautiful lavender-tinged light….absolutely glorious.
We walked into Ankor Wat, and it completely took our breath away. It’s funny–I was thinking that i was jaded b/c I wasn’t very impressed with its silhouette…but all I was seeing was the entrance courtyard! Ankor Wat at sunrise has this misty, ethereal quality. It was quiet except for geckos, frogs and bats squeaking, and the light was so soft and perfect that it seemed like we were walking through a dreamscape. There’s NOTHING like the sunrise for perfect lighting at Ankor Wat. I snapped away taking picture after picture…it’s such a photogenic place….it’s almost impossible to take a bad picture there.The Bas Reliefs are stunningly detailed, and the architecture is like nothing either of us had ever seen. PICTURES TO COME! :)
After spending over 3 hours at Ankor Wat (it felt like 20 minutes), we decided to do our own walking tour, following the “mini circuit” from the Lonely Planet Cambodia guide. We took a bathroom break, then bought some postcards from a very persistent little boy. When 2 other children approached us with postcards he said, “buy from me because I asked you first'”! :) We DID buy from him, and he raced up to us as we left and gave us 2 small, woven reed bracelets. At first we thought he was trying to sell us more, and he said Ï give to you because you buy from me””. Sweet. We paid $1 for 10 postcards.
We walked to Ankor Thom, a giant, walled city with huge, gorgeous gates. The gate we walked through was restored to show the entrance flanked on either side with demons battling gods, each side seated on its own giant serpent. Bakong is there, and it’s a very beautiful, impressive temple with a lot of restoration being done.
We also saw the Terrace of the Elephants and the Bayon–COOL! The Bayon has 216 enormous, carved stone faces that smile down at you as you walk through…it’s breathtakingly beautiful. ANd, acoording to Lonely Planet Cambodia, we don’t know what its function was.
Then, we walked about 5 kilometers to Ta Keo–it’s an unfinished, undecorated temple–very elegant, but plain compared to the others. It was a nice place to rest our feet after walking so far. We also got a cool, carved pineapple to share…it was carved in a single spiral and peeled/sectioned for convenient eating.
We walked a loooong way to Ta Prohm next…it’s the famous Lara Croft: Tomb Raider temple that’s been “swallowed up” by the jungle. Gargantuan tree roots engulf many of the walls, and vines and moss abound. It’s indescribably cool to be there in person.
After that we were tired so we took a Moto to the center of town (Psar Chaa) and ate at the Blue Pumpkin. Not adventurous, but yummy! They have all sorts of baked goods and housemade ice creams. I tried the dark chocolate ice cream (not intense enough) with the green-lemon-and-kafir-lime ice cream (out of this world with bits of kafir lime zest swirled throughout), a veggie sandwich, and a chocolate brioche. Yeah, so much for losing weight here. Wunderhub had the spicy chicken sandwich, a mango shake, and an apple turnover. Then, I went to Islands foot massage for a 1 hour indulgence. The woman did such an amazing job….she rubbed my feet and legs for 40 minutes, then rubbed my arms, hands, neck, shoulders, back and scalp, then did some stretches on my back. It was traditional Khmer style massage (so the sign said :-P), and it was AWESOME. the cost was $7, but she worked so hard that we paid $9 as a thank you.
Then, we shopped around–it’s a very touristy but clean area, then headed back to the hotel. We’ll try to hit Madame Butterfly for dinner tonight, then head out to Phnom Penh in the morning.
Much love to all…we miss you very much and think/talk of you often! Please continue to pray for safety and health. We have another 4 hour bus ride tomorrow morning, then 1.5 days in Phnom Penh, a much rougher city than Siem Reap. We have felt your prayers and seen their results in our good health, the amazing weather, and the great time we’re having. THANK YOU.
See you soon!