i woke up early this morning to catch the sunrise over angkor wat, a popular event with tourists. while i was getting dressed, i could hear roosters crowing in the distance, dogs barking in reaction. my guesthouse moto driver was already up, on his motorcycle (scooter), waiting for me at the front gate. he seemed unhappy, because yesterday morning i tried to visit angkor wat without him, because i found some 3rd party driver that was willing to take me for US1.50 (instead of the US$8 that my guesthouse moto driver wanted). "i will take you," he said angrily, then made me ride with him to tell the other moto driver that was essentially off-limits. i like how there's this level of professionalism amongst the motos, no, it's not like 5th grade at all. anyway, guesthouse moto driver took me to angkor wat this morning, waited about an hour for me to get my obligatory sunset snapshots, then he brought me to ta prohm, which is famous for the trees that are swallowing up the temple. he wanted to wait for me (so he could charge more, instead of the US$3 i agreed to give him), but i told him how i wouldn't know how long i'd take and if i told him a time then i'd be constantly checking the clock and couldn't enjoy myself. he seemed to understand, then said he'd see me tomorrow.

it was early (7am) when i got to ta prohm, there wasn't anyone there yet (anyone, except for a german couple that mysteriously appeared out of the bushes). immediately mosquitoes started to swarm me, and it was the first time i had to bust out my tiny bottle of bug spray (i carry it with my always, you never know). the 25% solution tingled on my neck and face, the small spots were i'm surnburnt. these jungle mosquitoes were pretty, black with white stripes (like tigers), and i had some fun chasing them away with my repellent covered hands. there was a custodian waiting at the front gate, a young man who's job it is to sweep the dusty floors of the temple early in the morning. he told me this was the temple that they used to film tomb raider, and he said yes when i asked him if he met angelina jolie (i didn't ask him if he temporarily went blind from her awesome hotness). he would tell me where to stand to get the best photos; what i thought at first was just a few helpful photo hints turned out to be an elaborate tour of the compound, and this was before any tourists had arrived, the place was completely empty. it was like photography with hints: all the joys of photo-taking, none of the figuring out where to stand to get the best angles. one thing i learned though is nothing in southeast asia is free, and i knew my "guide" was going to ask me for money sooner or later, the question was how much. finally, after 30 minutes of walking me around, i told him, "okay, i sort of want to explore on my own, here's some money for your time." i gave him some loose change. "that's too small," he said. after some more haggling, i gave in and handed him US2.50 (10,000 riel). he still seemed unhappy, and came back later to tell me he'd show me the buddha's head surrounded by trees if i gave him another 10,000r. i declined his generous offer. i spent the rest of the time at ta prohm trying to find a stegosaurus carving mentioned in my guidebook. unable to find it and starting to dehydrate, i gave up and left.

the next temple was banteay kdei, and only because it was right next door. there really isn't anything special about it, just a lot of walking around and exploring ruins. once i was finished, it'd already been 7 hours since this morning and i didn't have anything to eat yet. dehydrated, hungry, i looked for a ronin moto driver to take me back into town. it didn't take long, some guy stopped on the road, asked if i needed a ride, we negotiated the price (US2.50), and on hot dusty road we sped off.

i showered back at the hotel, then headed out to a japanese cafe that i ate on my first night in siem reap. i was stopped by a moto driver that had given me directions back at angkor wat, and we conspired so that he would take me to the temples tomorrow instead of the guesthouse moto driver. "what are you doing now? you need massage?" he asked. "no, no," i replied, "but how much?" "US$30, massage and boom-boom." i laughed, "no, i just want massage, no boom-boom." he reeled back, like i didn't know what i was missing. "young girl, pretty girl," he added. "no," i said, "there's a blind massage place down the street i'm going to try, US$3/hour." with that i went to go eat, some chinese noodle with radish (US$1) and a caramel shake (75 cents) followed by a vanilla sundae (75 cents). i came back looking for the blind massage parlor, but found instead an old cambodian couple, neither of them could speak any english. they owned a convenience store and i bought a large bottle of water for about 15 cents.

i fell asleep back at the hotel. even with the air conditioner on, i was still sweating because it was so hot, and i didn't get a good nap. i woke up periodically to watch the charles and camilla wedding on BBC and CNN. it rained for a brief period of time, heavy rain, sounded like the world was exploding. when night came around, i left the guesthouse and wandered to this other internet cafe. new computers with air conditioning, but unfortunately i can't hook up my photo drive to these PC's, so no photos until tomorrow.

off to find dinner.

angkor wat sunrise

jungle bugs

ta prohm doorway

tree swallowing carving

ta prohm morning view

ta prohm morning view


dancing apsaras (banteay kdei)