OK, here's what happened next. We came out of Angkor Wat at around 4:30PM. Our tuktuk driver was patiently waiting for us.
As y'all know, I am hopelessly obsessive-compulsive (and sometimes manic-depressive) and so I spent the month before our trip cramming all the information about two countries I'd never been in into my underexercised brain, in order for me to formulate the best possible itinerary for the specific purpose of taking the best pictures of the temples.
Phnom Bakheng is THE must-go spot for sunsets at Angkor. You can't not do it. You MUST watch the sunset from there. Our tuktuk driver Sok Cheat (pronounced "suk-eat") knew this. Of course, hundreds of other people knew this, too.
We had just gotten off a plane, we were getting hungry and kinda overwhelmed by the excitement of meeting Angkor Wat for the first time. I had to half-force Bunny Rabbit to go to Phnom Bakheng. He said that we would just be wasting our time because it was overcast, the sun won't come out and besides, there's this weird yellow haze everywhere and the pictures won't be so nice.
And there's just so many people. Everywhere.
Nevertheless, Sok Cheat and I prevailed. We started the 20-minute hike up the hill. I wanted to ride the elephant to the top, but the thought of spending US$20 on that instead of something more important, like say, Happy Pizza... Never mind. Looked cool, though.
As we went up the hill, we caught glimpses of the Khmer people's past lives. We were going back in time.
There were trees as far as the eye could see. Siem Reap is as flat as a pancake. We saw an island on a lake and said to each other: That must be Tonlé Sap, the largest lake in Southeast Asia? Wow, it's so big!
Nge! It's just the West Baray pala, a man-made water reservoir, and the island is the West Mebon temple. A couple of days later, we would visit its twin the East Mebon in the middle of a completely dried-up East Baray. Symmetry is a big deal when building temples.
Finally, we got to the top of the hill. And now we had to get to top of Phnom Bakheng which, honestly, looked like a big pile of rock. Our tempers were getting short now. But we bit our tongues and just clambered up the stupid uneven steps.
And there were people. Everywhere.
And there was that stupid yellow haze everywhere.
Bunny Rabbit and I communicated by telepathy: They call this a sunset? These people don't know what a REAL sunset looks like. We have award-winning sunsets a dime a dozen in the Philippines. I mean, this is is not interesting at all. What are we doing here?
You know how you visit a new place and you instantly hate it? You absolutely detest it, and you swear that you'll never go back. Never never never.
And then weeks later, you look at the pictures. You fall in love with the sky.
You feel it with a certainty in your gut-- you're going back to Cambodia.
Note: All the pictures in this post are by Bunny Rabbit and his trusty Nikon D90. You DA MAN!