Nate and I planned a quick, two-night stay in the small town to go see what the buzzfeed (Top Ten Places to do Take Pictures of Monks in their Natural Habitat!) was all about. Quick, because Cambodia, like its neighbor to the north, Laos, doesn’t have any railways. Our PTSD flared up a bit at the country’s reputation for having rough, dirt roads and only buses to traverse them. Our experiences with buses hadn’t been great up to this point, to put it mildly, so we were not keen to spend more time than necessary. Actually, the 12 hour bus ride and border crossing from Saigon to Siem Reap wasn’t that bad. Or maybe it’s just that our expectations were set so low. As Nate and I are learning, the key to happiness – maybe in all aspects of life, but certainly while traveling – is low expectations.
Angkor Wat is one of those attractions in SE Asia that is best enjoyed at the crack of dawn so that one can glimpse the full majesty of the main temple while back-lit by a sunrise halo. At 4:30 am, then, Nate and I found ourselves shuffling down to the hostel lobby to meet up with some other gluttons-for-punishment while we waited for our tuk-tuk driver to take us to the ruins. Our fellow sunrise enthusiasts included: Juan, a Psychologist from Argentina; Marta, a Nurse from Spain; and George, a Project Manager from the Netherlands.