March 19 2017
Siem Reap, Cambodia
4:30am. Seriously. I can download photos from the internet anytime I want to, if I want to see the sun rising over the towers of Angkor Wat. Or buy a postcard of it from any child in Cambodia- they all sell them.
But Savath insisted that we had to do this and so, against my better judgment and keen instinctual belief that "sleep is good", we rose at 4:30am this morning....and were back in bed asleep by 8:30am.
During the intervening 4 hours, I heard my wife regularly mumbling to herself (at first, and then she made sure I could hear), "This is gonna cost you a bracelet, for sure!".
For the first 2 hours, hushed in awe, we stood (she sat; I stood) in pitch black on rocks measuring 8 inches square jutting out into the pond in front of Angkor Wat.
As the dawn started to break you could start to see the beautiful pink lilies in the pond, all of their delicate petals opened wide in welcome to the new day's sun.
You could see, through a dream-like mist, the wonderful network of feather-light dragonflies all seeming to work in unison as they skimmed the surface of the placid pond in search of their next meal.
And you could finally see the incredible cloud of mosquitoes who, for the past two hours, had been making me their next meal.
As the sun's first soft golden rays peeked out over the towers of the ancient Angkor ruins, you could start to clearly make out the freaking HUGE crowd of people who, like us, were clearly insane.
No, seriously, there were more people crowded around that pond than the one at the Par 3-12th hole at Augusta on Masters Sunday!
And this happens each and every morning!
You have never seen so many selfie-sticks poking up above the median height of the crowds. If I had half a brain, I would set up a selfie-stick concession next to that pond. I'd be a zillionaire in a week.
And then there is the excited ooh and ahh (like a big putt was sunk or something) every minute or so as the sun highlights some other feature on the ruins.
Our 8 sq. Inches of rock jutting out into the pond gave us an 8-inch advantage- a chance to take a photo without hundreds of selfie-sticks getting into the picture.
This little advantage was quickly understood by the always canny group of, oh, say, 40 Japanese women of a certain age who travel up and down the breadth of this country like a hungry Wolfpack and who, at this moment, were huddled just behind me, straining to see over the massed throngs.
And, just as quickly, they started asking me (and then subtly but surely squeezing in on me) to get off the rock so they could each, in turn, take the following set of photos:
1. Six in various poses with their arms, hands and/or fingers posed 'just so', expressing either a coquettish look or, more likely, making it look like they are holding the entirety of the Angkor Wat temple complex in the palm of their hand.
2. Six more selfies of the same poses.
I quickly got bored with this and 'accidentally' nudged the one standing next to me. This set off a daisy-chain, as she then nudged the one next to her and so on down the line until the last one nudged the one on the 8 sq. Inch rock right into the pond. Right while she was right in the middle of selfie no. 4, the one where she pinches her thumb and forefinger together to make it look like she is squishing the entirety of Angkor Wat between her fingers.
(That last paragraph may or may not have happened but in my dreams it SO did happen!).
After the sun finished rising to a height that satisfied me (and my poor camera looked at me and pleaded, "no mas") I did what anyone in my shoes would do.
I dragged my wife into the Angkor Wat ruins and spent another 2 hours examining the minute details of each nook and cranny until she looked at me and pleaded, "no mas".
And then we slept.
We leave Siem Reap and Cambodia in the morning, headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand. There will be new adventures there, I have no doubt. With luck, they'll start at a decent time of day.