Up With the Roosters.

Roosters do not crow at dawn. Or rather, they don’t begin to crow at dawn. They’re still crowing at down, but they start way before that. I know this, because this morning I got up well before dawn so that I could see the sunrise over Angkor Wat.
The roosters were crowing. It took me a little while to figure out that it was roosters. Have I mentioned the chickens? There are chickens everywhere here. Roosters just walking around. These are definitely free-range chickens. I saw some chicks following a hen, too. Also cows. There are cows everywhere. Everywhere. Some are tethered – even by the temple sites (some of them, anyway), but plenty just roam around. Mostly they’re used for working in the rice fields.
Rice is the main crop here, but I’ve also seen dragon fruit growing, and there’s a lot of other fruit – pineapple (much smaller than in the US – I suspect Monsanto isn’t involved). Mangoes, durian fruit (you can just smell that, you don’t even have to see it) and the people here use the palm trees for everything. There are coconut palms (I drank a coco it for breakfast), and another kind with different fruit that’s also used to make alcohol and sugar.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I got up at 0:dark-thirty to go see the sunrise. My driver was waiting for me, and off we went.
Riding in a tuk-tuk is not for the faint-hearted. It’s bumpy, and you get to interact with the environment a lot more. It’s kinda fun though, and kinda the way to go if you’re here. Unless you want to go entirely local and sit on the back of someone’s motor scooter. Without a helmet.
So we got to Angkor Wat, just us and a couple hundred of my close friends. This is the thing to do, you see. Also sunset at one of the temples, but i didn’t make that, I’ve just been too worn out.
It wasn’t as colorful as I had hoped, but it was lovely. I might recommend skipping sunrise and checking out sunset instead. No matter, it gave me an early start.
We went to, I think four or five temples today. It is possible to get temple overload, and yet they are all immensely beautiful.
The ones that stood out to me were Preah Khan, which was actually built as a Buddhist temple (most of the others, including Angkor Wat) were built as Hindu temples and later became Buddhist), and the island temple, which has the biggest moat of all the temples and is approached via a bridge through a bog.
Preah Khan has a lot of restoration going on right now, and a small historic center that tells about the history. The main entrance is from the east, because it was built to be a Buddhist temple, and this is important. Angkor Wat, being built as a Hindu temple, has it’s main approach from the west (hence going there from sunrise).
I also saw a gate where moss had grown over the Buddha’s faces, but it was clearer than the other gates. This gate also had some elephants.
I saw the baboon temple and the elephant temple. Did I mention there were a lot of temples?
At every temple – every temple – there are people and often children, sometimes very young children, who are selling things. They’re fairly aggressive, but they have to make a living. Yesterday I bought a crew things and I know I overpaid by Cambodian standards, but wow, these kids should be in school or out playing.
Today a policeman tried to sell me his badge. Yesterday one of my tour guides told me that there was so much corruption here. Today I have to wonder how things can run when a policeman wants to sell his badge for extra income?
I hope I’m not coming across as judgmental. I’m just a bit broken-hearted. I’ve met so many hard-working people, smart people, who are trying to make a way for themselves, and I see a situation that was largely created by colonialism, and I think that we really ought to be better at cleaning up our own messes.
OK, enough pontificating. I had breakfast and lunch out today. I had a coconut to drink with my pancake for breakfast, and I had some very tasty and a bit spicy noodles for lunch. I had a migraine in the afternoon, so my evening plans to spend my final night in downtown Siem Reap at the night market have been foiled. Tomorrow I go to the airport. I have an all-day layover in Korea. Gee, that sounds a lot like the beginning of my journey.
So very glad I came. I’ll update with photos on my return home.
That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.

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