We were running on fumes when we reached Siem Reap, so we were a little concerned when the TukTuks our AirB&B was providing were not there when we arrived. We did our best to wait patiently, and within 15 minutes they had arrived. One was black and hot pink - of course Aaron jumped right into it (probably singing Moulin Rouge songs in his head). Off we went, and I was a little delighted when our driver ran out of gas within 5 minutes of picking us up. He smiled sheepishly as he filled the tank from a roadside stand, then we were off... Again.
I was admiring the scenery and fields through our ride outside the main city, and then we found ourselves on a very rough unpaved road, and then they pulled over and stopped. We didn’t know what to expect. Our host was in the amazing pool, and they took us up to some accommodations that we could hardly believe were ours. A huge shared room with about a 20-foot ceiling, air-conditioning, floors that we would call reclaimed wood, and a nice bathroom.
We dropped our belongings and made a B-line for the pool. The water was nice, our host told us about- well everything - and it seemed like we wouldn’t be headed anywhere that night. We exhaled and relaxed, but we eventually grabbed a tuktuk into town and walked around looking for dinner. After a couple missed connections we found food, the rest of us were able to experience Fish Amok . And then we headed back early. We were expecting an early morning - I think 4:45 so that we could get our passes and get into Angkor Wat before the sunrise.
It was a bit of a harried morning, but we got our passes (with our pictures on them) and made it in with plenty of time. Enough time that we were talking and not paying attention when our guide pointed out the fact that the sun had just broken above the temple. We all stopped and stared silently. We got closer and further away and I probably took 100 pictures in this 45 minutes.
We then proceeded at a nice pace through the first temple. Our guide was amazingly knowledgable, had our sense of humor, and seemed to move at exactly the pace we liked. He kept us out of the sun as much as possible and made sure we always had waters. Really, the only 2 problems were me worrying about money, and us being in 2 separate tuktuks. TukTuks only hold 4, so we needed 2 to have room for the guide. Although we talked throughout the whole day, it is those side conversations where we’re not admiring beauty or talking about what we are seeing that I had been cherishing in Aaron and Heather.
After a beautiful day feeling privileged to see such amazing temples (and trying to honor the amount of suffering it took to build them), we headed back to the pool. In various positions of floating, we worked out a plan for the night and a loose plan for the next day. Angkor Wat admission was $20 a day (or $40 for 3 days), so we decided to head back for some sunset shots. Which were okay, but it is nice to bookend the day. After sunset, we had a Southeast Asian “fusion” meal and then floated some more.
The next morning, Aaron and Heather headed off for a long ride to a fishing village - luckily their travel savvy helped them avoid a tourist trap that certainly would have caught Susan and I. We headed into town, had a coffee, and then split-up again. Susan and I were a little over-zealous and rented White Bikes (which the money goes to a local charity) for $2 each and then went to play Putt-Putt in the mid-day sun. After Putt-Putt and feeling a little faint from the heat - we went out for a light lunch of Mexican food. We met up back at our AirB&B in the late afternoon, and remained poolside until dinner.
The next morning, Aaron shouldered the stress of bill paying by negotiating with our host and displaying yet more generosity. We said goodbye with as little fanfare as possible as they were headed to an island and would be seeing us soon - for the SongKran festival.