The night bus pulled into Siem Reap at 5 am. Besides the barking of dogs and the “Hello sir, madam tuk tuk?” calls of the tuk tuk drivers, the fearless motorcyclists waiting to haul tourists across town for $1 or 2, it was quiet. Shaking our heads, “no, no thank you” would become a common ritual for us as we walked off to find out hotel, being careful not to trip on sleeping dogs in the dark.
It was too early to check into our hotel, so after dropping off our bags we set off for a half day tour of the temples of Angkor Wat. Days could be spent exploring the largest religious monument in the world. Progressing from a Hindu temple to a Buddhist temple over the centuries, it has become the symbol of Cambodia. The Royal Palace’s architecture is based off of it, so is the national flag.
Not quite as nimble as the monkeys that live among the ruins, we joined the tourists climbing over, under, through the ruins. A good work out for the calf muscles. After peeking around corners, crawling up steep steps, and quenching our dry throats with a bottle of warm water at one temple, we’d wake our tuk tuk driver, Am, and dart off to another temple just as fascinating as the last. It was a long, hot morning.
It was only noon when we got the key to our hotel room. I was so tired, but we’d come all this way we should go out. The lady at the front desk assured us it was only a ten minute walk to the National Museum of Siem Reap, so we put on our shoes again, opened the big wooden doors, and headed out into the heat and humidity.
If you look closely, you can see fruit bats in the tree tops.
“Sir, madam tuk tuk.” ” Sir, madam you buy. ” “Sir, madam …” It was a long, dusty, sweaty walk. It definitely was not ten minutes. Spying the museum we thought, “Ah, air conditioning.” We thought wrong.
Filling up at the gas station.
By the time we got back to our hotel with blisters on my feet, I was not the most pleasant of company. I showered and went to bed without dinner.
The next morning I was still on the cranky side. Any thoughts of visiting another temple or museum were pushed to the back of my mind. I was just too tired mentally and physically, and went back to sleep.
Sometimes you feel like you have to do something, but maybe, just maybe it is only something you “feel” like you have to do but it isn’t something you really need to do. Yes, we made it all the way to Cambodia. We’d learned and saw a lot and there was so much more to see and do, but we plan to travel for months to come. We can’t just go, go, go every day.
What I really needed was to decompress. I’d been pushing myself for almost two weeks, because there is so much about the world that I want to experience. At this moment I couldn’t stand another “Sir, madam…” , risking my life to cross another street, or suffering a heat stroke.
I slept past lunch time. We didn’t do much in the afternoon, just wandered the old town area and had a leisurely dinner watching the mayhem from up above. The next day I was ready for more exploring. It’s ok to take a break. Silence is part of the music.