Incredible… visiting Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm asif we had it all to ourselves…

Angkor Wat sunrise

Another (very) early and hot morning. Yesterday’s 3 hour Thais massage is still scaring our muscles. Getting up is tough. I am dreading the idea of a mass amount of people fighting for a square foot to sit and wait until the sun comes up behind Angkor Wat. We have to do this, we would be stupid not to, we are here. Mmm… It is not that bad. Everyone is in a good mood and probably still asleep. Enough space to sit and walk around. We all wait with a huge expectation for the sunrise as if it is the first time ever we will witness this. Once the sun is up, everyone loses interest and makes their way to a next stop.

Angkor Thom’s secret places

We hurry up to get to the next stop, Angkor Thom. We are just in time to see the sun peep through the arch. Another iconic place. We are used to it by now, when Sarak signs us to follow him to the bushes. Anywhere else and with any other man asking us to join him in the bushes, you would think twice, right? But we know what follows… a secret, idyllic place to take unique pictures. Sarak keeps on surprising us…

Ta Prohm through the back door

I know what our next stop should be, Ta Prom, the Tomb raider temple. But I get confused when we turn left into a bushy area. A bit further down the sandy alley we see a “parking spot” for one car… ours… Huh? This is not the entry? No. It is the “back door” to Ta Prom. Not a real door. We have to climb over the wall. Clearly we are not the only ones using this access, some people working here use this “entrance” as well. The result is that we are at the main attractions of Ta Prom 15 to 30 minutes before any other guest is able to get there through the main entrance. Yes… We have it to ourselves. Sarak did it again… We get into photoshooting modus, moving swiftly from one place to another taking incredible one-of-a-kind pictures. Wonderful…

Moment of zen

By 9 am it is hot and humid again. We are knackered and lost for words for what we were able to experience this morning. Wow. Time for some relaxation at the pool… while my friend is getting another massage down the street, to get the muscles relaxed again.

Angkor Wat’s inside corridors

By 1 pm we head again to Angkor Wat to have a good look at it. I am getting mentally prepared again for a lot of people. Again, I don’t understand where they all are?! Not here in any case. We enter Angkor Wat by the back and enjoy the less crowded sights of the temple. Eventually, we make our way to the more crowded part through a maze of corridors. Creepy… The only living soul we come across is a lost guard sitting on the stairs playing with his mobile. Don’t even think he noticed us… We have the kingdom to ourselves… and we make good use of it as you can see above.

People are strange, like cattle, following the herd, not thinking for themselves and counting on the herd to show the way. Guess, we are the rebellious sheep then. We are inquisitive, like to look behind the next corner, behind the next door, peep through holes and windows, look up and down to make sure we don’t miss out on anything exciting or secret. Once back on the main square, we meet some people from our region. It is clear that most of them are visiting Angkor with a group… organized… meaning, they HAVE to follow the herd.

Being watched at Bayon

No, we didn’t pay this group of monks to casually exit the temple and walk into our picture. We are just at the right place at the right time with Sarak behind the camera ready to go. And the best part? We find this quite normal, that these situations happen to us… we seem to attract strange situations and funny encounters.

At Bayon we have a great time looking at all the faces with their juicy lips. We hear a male voice shouting what seems to be “orders” in Korean or Chinese – I couldn’t make out the difference. We are curious and get closer to observe the scene. We don’t understand a word, but have a lot of fun looking at the group dynamics. The man is indeed giving orders. The group members go stand on a spot indicated by the man, follow instructions on where and how to stand, while he takes their picture one by one. At first sight you would think of the man being quite a dictator, but when you look at the scene a bit longer, the group is actually having a lot of fun being instructed in such an efficient way. No one is forgotten. Everyone will have their picture taken in this nice environment.

We are patient too. When they are finished we can take yet another picture as if we are the only ones on earth…

Goodbye Sarak and Family

Unfortunately our time at Siem Reap is almost up. We will have to say goodbye to Sarak and his family. We will go for a nice dinner and leave it to Sarak to choose the restaurant. He wanted to go to a place he heard some good comments about and wants to expose his family to different type of foods. We know that Sarak will taste anything that comes across, so he has the time of his life. His son is a chip of the old block and indulges himself with chicken and ice cream (kinda similar to what my son would order!), while his (pregnant) wife is quite happy with something familiar…

We will miss them… and hope one day we can meet again.

*** As you will have noticed we were quite fond of Sarak and his family. We strongly recommend booking him for your trips in the area of Siem Reap. You will not be disappointed! You can check out Sarak on TripAdvisor and reach him through the info on his Facebook page. Say “hi” to him from “Black & White”. ***

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