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Saturday 13 Jul 2013
Angkor Wat, Cambodia


Late afternoon, Simon, Josh and Carl hired mountain bikes while the rest of us got tutuks for the 8km up to the Angkor Wat heritage area.  Tickets last 1, 3 or 7 days, but if you buy them after 5pm they are valid for the whole of the following day, which means you can get a sunset visit and the next day on a single ticket.  Our tuktuks took us up to the ticket office where we had our photos taken and scanned onto the ticket.  There was a little confusion when I thought the woman was telling us the next day was a holiday, by which I though she meant the temples were closed, but eventually worked out she meant the ticket was valid for the whole day.  In my defence, I was now dosed up on cold and flu tablets and antihistamines but still sneezing and feeling foggy. 

We drove up to the front of Angkor Wat itself, which was shining golden in the light of the setting sun.  One tuktuk driver stopped, but our driver shouted something and we both carried on, despite us all wanting to get out there.  He insisted there was a better view point further on and took us another kilometre on.  Then we were directed up a steep path and told to hurry or we'd be too late.  We set off up the seemingly never ending hill along with hoards of other tourists, still with no idea where we were going.  At the top we reached the base of a temple set right on the crown of this hill, where the guards were checking tickets and telling people to hurry as it closed at 5.30pm, which was about 5 minutes away. 

Before leaving the hostel we'd changed into long shorts and t-shirts to ensure our knees and shoulders were covered, except for Kye who was still wearing a vest top (singlet).  Our tuktuk driver had assured us that he would be ok as he was a guy, only women needed to cover their shoulders.  This turned out to be wrong and Kye wasn't allowed in.  So we'd rushed up a long hill, away from where we wanted to be, separated from the boys on bikes, only to be told that we couldn't all get in and there was no time to go back down and buy a t-shirt from one of the many stalls on the main road as the temple closed in five minutes.  Add to this the early start, long day on a bus and the still-strong heat and humidity, and you end up with a fairly disgruntled group of five trying to find a spot in a very crowded temple top from which to see the view over Angkor Wat... And then we discovered you couldn't actually see Angkor Wat from up there anyway! 

The tuktuk driver had done what he though was right.  This temple is the one people usually plan watch the sunset from, as the hill is high enough to clear any obstructions to the sky, but it wasn't what we'd actually wanted that evening.  We made the best of it and watched the sunset, but felt bad that Kye was stuck on the path under the trees still with little view of the sky.

When we finally met up with the boys back at the hostel again, we discovered they had not only gone to Angkor Wat, but they'd got inside and bribed one of the guards to let them up into one of the closed towers. They had the most incredible sunset photographs.  The brightest colours had come out after the sun had actually gone down and we'd been on the path back down the hill again.  Those of you how know how much I love watching the sunset will understand how annoyed I was at missing out, here of all places.  But I have been lucky so many times already on this trip, I guess I can't win them all...




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