(by Alistair Fabius)
With the bulk of the sites at Angkor now under our belt, Pow had saved the best for last. Picking us up at 5am, we we’re off to catch the sun rising over Angkor Wat, the biggest temple of them all. True to form, there was a mad frenzy of tourists, all jockeying for the best possible photo spot. As we weren’t even awake yet, we just found a nice rock in the dark to sit on and relaxed while the light slowly filled the sky above Angkor. After almost 2 hrs, we decided the perfect picture just wasn’t in our hand that day, so we decided to simply tour the inside of the massive temple while the sun rose up above. The sheer size of this place was stunning with several massive towers rising well over the skyline. Intricate carvings adorned every wall, with beautiful courtyards surrounding the centre structure. The top level just happened to be closed off that day “for cleaning”, although this didn’t stop a few ignorant tourists who climbed over the fencing, earning them a scornful look from the lax security guards. As we did our regular walk around the perimeter to the front once we had finnished touring the inside, we noticed the sun had risen just above the main tower, casting a magnificent reflection onto the pond perfectly situated in front. Also, the mass crowd of tourists had begun to trickle away, leaving a perfect place in front of the pond to take the quintessential picture that almost every buisiness in Cambodia has hanging on their walls. As this was the shot you imagine you’ll take when you read about Angkor in books, I was thrilled. We made a short break for breakfast and Pow took us to our final temple, the tomb raider temple.
Known to the locals as Ta Prohm, this temple was where parts of tomb raider were filmed. The moment you step inside, the reasoning they chose this site becomes immediately clear. About half the site is in rubbles, and the other has massive tree trunks growing right over it. Almost every friggin tourist in the country seemed to have followed us to this site too, and with construction going on rebuilding the major sections that layed in ruins, the place was buzzing with activity and noise. However, as this was our last chance to soak it all in, we took our time waiting for the perfect opportunities to get picutres sans tourists before heading back to meet Pow. He then offored to take us to the floating village south of Siem Reap, but since it was rather expensive and we’re travelling on a budget, we turned it down and instead went back to our guesthouse and continued what we wished so badly to have been doing when we woke up at 430am, sleeping in. We are on vacation after all, and the past three days Pow had kept us on a strict schedule of full days exploring temples, ruins and jungles in near 40 degrees celcius heat.
We thanked Pow for the wonderful experiences he had shared with us, and promised we would recommend “Pow the legend man” to anyone stopping through Siem Reap. If you find yourself here, at the bus station, just look for the black tuk tuk with the words “get your wiggle on son” written on the side, it was the first thing I noticed when our bus pulled up.