I was feeling like a ghost, sprinting inside my home-stay in the middle of the night. But there wasn’t any other option now; while the entire city was absorbed in deep sound sleep, I was getting dressed for my sunrise tour to Angkor Wat. By 3:45 am I was neat, clean and ready and was considering whether to wait another 10 minutes inside my room or go straight away to the lobby and wait for my pick up!!
‘Hope there will be more people in this tour!’
‘Well, I have booked shared tour, so there should be!’
‘Do people at all take this early morning tour!’
While so many contradiction going inside my head, I locked my room and went down to the lobby. Half of the lights at the balcony areas were kept on, as the owner was aware of my morning tour. The reception area was quite dark but the main gate being open, street lights were pouring inside. I collected my packed breakfast kept ready for me and waited at the gate.
It was 3:55 am, and I could see a shop or may be an office at the front kept wide open, someone was working at his laptop, and he was sanely awake, he looked at me for a while and went back to his work. Though that did seem odd, but I got a bit of relief seeing someone else awake at that time of the day. 5 minutes more and a minivan stopped in front the home stay. A chubby man with a quite-upset-to-this-early-morning-job face came out of the car and gloomily looked at me.
‘Is this the pick-up for Angkor Wat Tour?’ (Sorry Dude, I can’t look more beautiful at this hour)
‘Yes, that’s me, my name is Payel Dutta.’
‘Oo! Please come.. Please take your seat here.’
I was about to guess whether I was the first person to get into this car.. “Hello, Good Morning!!”
‘Oo, Hi Good morning!’
There were 3 more people bent to 45 degrees at their left or right, at the back seats and they went back to their remaining dream after greeting me. I switched my guess to whether these three people were sleeping inside the car from last night just not to miss their pick up!! Anyway there was assurance that there were more people in this tour and I wasn’t the only living ghost then.
More people joined in the car and during the drive across the city at that hour, I saw most of the restaurants were opened and few night owls were still hanging inside! Then it rang, Siem Reap night market is famous for its night life, above it, it was weekend, so it was obvious to see the eateries being opened for the whole night. Back in that minivan, while there was no more space available for another person to fit in, the driver with a smiling face (which particularly was saying, finally my job is done!) shifted us to another bigger bus and that bus already had more people inside.
‘Ok so people do take this very early morning tour. I mean why not!’
So far I only got friendly with the girl beside me, she was German and though chose this tour for herself, she was grumping on her decision. Later she said, she was out for a vacation for last 4 months! And after Cambodia, she would spend another week with her friend at Malaysia and then back to home for Christmas.. 4 months! I mean I had heard that westerners travel for longer period, but this was the first time I met a living tourist who proved my, so-far-just-heard-about-it fact true!!
We exchanged more of our travel plan, I was interested in her’s more and she was happy to talk about all of them. She was studying before this holiday and was saving for this long planned – long trip, so after finishing her exam and before facing the real world, she wanted to come for this trip. And here I still make as genuine as possible excuses for my solo trips!!
Just to tell you, that the sunrise tour of Siem Reap is really popular and the temple ground was packed with tourists. Though many reasons behind it, one of the major is, even for which I was also happy on choosing the early morning tour, the sun is quite high during the day where as morning is comparatively soothing. And of course, if the weather is clear, the view of the sun peeking from the pinnacles of the temple and slowly rising from there above the sky brushing it purple, red, golden and bright blue, is just gorgeous.
So the tour was moving peacefully, not everybody was talking to everyone, but few exchanges were taking place. Mostly and may be because of, the breakfast was still due. I must mention the guide here, his unknowingly sweet and innocent effort later actually brought most of us together. By the time we finished Angkor Wat, people were starving for breakfast, but granting the guide’s humble request, we went ahead to Agkor Thom shoving our peckish tummy.
As I believe, brains and hearts connect better over food, my genius theory made it’s luck. During our late breakfast, the group got divided into two or three, all solo travellers at one table and few at the other ( one of those table consisted of obsessed with contour, nude morning lipstick shade and perfectly done hair at 4 in the morning; along with one or two admirers of such talents!)
Whatever, let’s come back to the gypsy table, where I was also a part of. We were 8 all together seated on that table. 7 of us were in let’s-keep-talking mode, while one Korean girl at our table only wanted to be with her phone and chicken fried rice. So apart from that we had British, that German girl, another quite tall and good looking guy but I forget his residing country and a New Zealander.
‘Where are you from?’
‘How long have you been travelling?’
‘Where are you coming from?’
‘Where are you moving next?’
‘How long is your vacation?’
These were the staple questions asked to everyone and answered by everyone. I was surprised to know most of them were on a 5-6 months trip, some were looking forward to do a temporary job in between, save more money and then travel again, some going for more South East Asian countries, and among all these I was feeling the down-casted one, to announce that my trip would last only for 2 weeks, forget month! That’s an alien concept for any Indian.. Isn’t it?
The group was full of energy, as we were moving towards more temple, we loved each other’s company. The German girl and I were quite in discussion about our upcoming travel plan in Cambodia. Though others were in the middle of their trip, I was on my 2nd day; so this energy in all way, was working in my favour.
‘Hey, Hi.. Where are you from?’ One of the admirer gentleman from that other table at the restaurant asked me.
‘I am from India.’
‘Aaah India!! I was in India during October?’
‘Do you mean, you are on tour for almost 2 months now?’
‘Yes, my holiday is for 3 months, and then I will go back to my country.’
‘Mexico, I am from Mexico.’
‘Oh, so you speak Spanish?’
‘Yes, I do!! India is a nice country by the way..’
‘Indeed, where all you went in India?’
‘I went to Varanasi, Kerala, and one more place… But I can’t remember the name’
‘Close to Kerala?’
‘No, I went from Delhi..’
‘Yes Jaipur.. Amazing place!’
‘You should see more of that region; I have been there as well’
‘Really? May be next time then? So where all are you going?’
‘Oh, it’s just Cambodia this time?’
‘Ok, and how long is your trip?’