Friday, February 20, 2015

Around Angkor Wat by Bike - Day 2

Staring into a very rare sunset
in Nowhere, Cambodia
NOWHERE, CAMBODIA — Two days in, and Oh gawd, I was so sick of temples already!

Hiro and I were coming to the end of a very long Angkor Wat Day 2 Tour (aka The Big Loop Tour). We've been biking since daybreak and I don't exercise; so guess what's on the other side of that equation.

Eccentric and adventurous as always, I suggested getting as far away from the ENORMOUS, ENORMOUS amount of people inside the complex as we can to end what has been an awesome day so far.

We studied the map we had and there seemed like an island called West Mebon in the middle of a lake to the outside west of the Angkor Wat Complex. (Or at least that's what the map showed.) We saw the East Mebon the previous day, it was charming and we even saw it again this morning during sunrise. At this point we were intrigued as to how a western counterpart would look like.

Also, we've been pedaling all day. Catching a sunset by the lake didn't sound so bad at all.

So, westward we biked!

West Mebon, an island in the West Baray Lake, is west to the Angkor Wat Temple Complex.
By the map alone, you would trust that it's a developed section of the Angkor Wat experience.
(map source: Angkor Tourist Guide)

Even before getting out of the complex, we were tested immediately by dirt roads. Despite the dusts relentless in devouring whatever they encounter, it was nothing we can't handle since the road was still straightforward and flat.

Until it wasn't.

We got out of the complex. The road started winding. We started getting lost. Naturally, I am very good with directions but the map we picked up back at the hostel was not so helpful. It wasn't the most sophisticated map I ever had to read, after all. So, we asked around.

No one spoke English.

That moment we knew—we were on our own to figure out where the fuck we were and where the fuck to go.

It took us a little while—after a number of trial-and-errors, back-and-forts, left-and-rights—braving through dirt roads, unknown paths and corners that weren't even on the map before getting to a monk village. We asked where West Mebon was and they pointed us to the direction of a nearby lake.


Right then, so much excitement took over me and I suppose Hiro as well. It took so much from us who were already beat up all day biking to begin with just to get there. We deserved to sit on a boat. We deserved that boat to be cruising on a lake. And we deserved that lake to be glowing gold as the sun sets and we make our way to that island, the intriguing West Mebon. We just had to finally get through rows and rows of bushes and trees and that's it—tension builds up, excitement escalates.


Falling action here goes rather rapidly.

There was nothing there!

No people. No tourists. There was an island in the middle of the lake but no boat goes in.

No nothing.


So we had to be content. The journey so long ended in a muddy lakeside where you can't even sit on.

Surprisingly, it was difficult to get upset. We woke up at a very early part of the day because we wanted to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. We got up against bodily wishes to stay in bed. We raced through a busy Angkor Wat traffic to get ahead of the tourist pack. We even had to bribe indiscreet temple staff to climb up the top of the centermost temple for the ultimate viewing spot, only to be greeted by a very grim cloudy morning. Three days in Siem Reap and this would have been another one when the skies have just been very unwelcoming.

Yet, there we were, a full period of daylight after, breathing of contentment at the clear sky rapidly becoming crimson as the day came to a close.

The journey to nowhere wasn't such a disappointment after all.

A pair of bikes and the sunset by the lake.

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