Siem Reap

Sunrise tour of Angkor Wat

July 18, 2005

We began our day today by waking up at 4:45 am to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Whose bright idea was this? Neither one of us are morning people. Definitely no shower today. A shot of deodorant, we threw on our clothes, cleaned the sleep out of our eyes and we out the door to meet our tuk tuk driver at 5:00 am. We walked to the corner of our street where we met our driver the morning before. We didn’t see him, but another man walked up and said Mr. Lee could not make it because his tuk tuk was getting fixed. What? Who’s this guy? I was skeptical but he knew we were staying at the Sweet Dreams Guest House. We paid $8 the day before for Mr. Lee to drive us around the temples for 12 hours. Today we wanted to do the sunrise and be back in town by noon. We asked the driver how much and he immediate asked us how much we paid the day before. We told him and of course he wanted $8 for a half day of driving us around. We told him we only wanted to visit 3 temples today and stay no later than noon. He still wanted $8. I said $7 and Tina said no way. I was still half asleep. Tina said $5 or no deal. He wouldn’t take $5 so we walked away and said our guest house has a driver waiting for us who will do it for cheaper (we were not even sure if our guest house had driver this early in the moring). As we walked away he said $6. I said $5 or no deal. Before we got to the end of the corner his buddy came rolling up in his tuk tuk and said $6. Again, I said $5 or nothing. We went back and forth for a while and finally agreed on $5.50. With our late start from haggling, I didn’t know if we would make it to the temples for the sunrise.

We made it just before the sun started to rise. The place was just as packed as the sunset the night before at the other temple. I’ve never had any luck with sunrise or sunset pictures, but here are a couple reflective pictures I took that morning and an attempt at a silhouette of the Angkor Wat temple.

After the sunrise the people left quickly and we had our driver take us to some of the more remote temples. This was nice because we had the temples to ourselves plus only couple of people. This was really the best time of day to view these temples. By 11:00 am we had enough sight seeing of the temples. You can only see so many temples in a few days before you get burnt out.

Our driver took us back to town where we took a shower and had lunch. We bought some postcards and compared bus prices to Bangkok for a departure tomorrow. We received an email from the Swenglish Duo, Dan and Paul who took the bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok a few days earlier telling to take a Taxi to the Cambodia/Thailand border if we can. They said all the buses get to the border at the same time and the wait to get through immigration took them 5 hours because so many people were going through at the same time.

With that news we spent the rest of the day trying to find a taxi to the border. At first we asked the travel agencies and they wanted $30 for us to take a taxi on our own. This is pretty expensive when we can take the bus for $4 each. We read a shared taxi should be about $5 a person, but we didn’t have anybody to go with us and didn’t know how to arrange a shared taxi. Our travel pamphlet in our room said the taxi station was just down the street from our place. We went to go find it, but saw no cars looking like taxi’s. I finally just asked some local guys sitting on the corner about getting a taxi to the border. Of course this got their attention and next thing we know we have a crowd of 10 guys around us. We could hire the entire taxi (a Toyota Camry) for $30 or have the back seat to ourselves for $20. We told them we would think about and we walked away. A half a block down the road one of the guys approached us by himself to work a little side deal. After talking with him he said we could have the whole taxi to ourselves for $25, $20 for the back seat to ourselves or $10 to share the back seat with two Cambodians. Trying to save as much money as possible we chose the $10 route, $2 more than taking the bus. He said he would pick us up between 8:30 and 9:00 the next morning. We were a little skeptical but figured we would give it try since Swenglish was very adamant that we take a taxi.

Another cheap dinner and more bad moving watching ended our night.

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