Today I want to use up the last day of my three day temple pass. And swimming. And that weekend craft market. So, those are the plans.
I ask the receptionist about the bike but someone already has it out. I guess they don’t have that many… Oh well, good time to go swimming! And be lazy… and snack on snacks.
I check back about the bike and it’s available now. Awesome! I pack water, more snacks and check the map before leaving. Responsible things.
Can you guess how this will end up? Remember there’s a pattern here but I try not to think about it.
Somehow the ride seems much longer this time around than the bike tour a few days ago. It’s hot and there’s not much shade. A cow or two. I keep going, telling myself it can’t be much farther. Keep riding along the side of the road. It’s not that busy as I get closer.
Eventually, I spot a checkpoint up ahead. She’s quite friendly and we chat a bit as she stamps my pass. I’m off again pleased to be going the right way. I stop by Ta Prohm hoping it will be less crowded than when I was there on the bike tour. It is dramatically less crowded in fact. Here’s a few pictures:
I love the trees growing out of the temple and rocks!
The sun is starting to set and I forget that the temple complex actually closes. Ooops! I decide to keep going and exit out toward downtown instead of backtracking. This also takes a lot longer than I thought it would. I’m also really hungry at this point. There’s less and less people now. My only light source once it’s actually dark, is a tiny flashlight. I already know it’s not that great of a light. I ride on, and on, hoping to come across some marker to say I’m going the right way. All the cars are going the opposite way.
I come across another large temple and know I’m going the right way. I don’t stop for long. I’d like to be near downtown by the time it gets dark. No such luck. The moon is rising.
I’m racing along, dreaming of dinner. I make another stop to take in the lovely colors of the sunset. This is the Great Wall all over again. Haha.
I finally arrive at the main section, Angkor Wat and know that it can’t be much longer now. I tell myself lies. I see some cars turning onto another road and figure this is where I’m suppose to go.
At this point the sun has set. It’s dark. I’m holding the tiny flashlight in one hand so cars can tell where I am. There’s nothing but trees for a stretch and there’s gravel all over the road. I try to stay in the thin empty line of previous cyclists. At times like this, it would be nice to be with a friend. I wouldn’t feel to need to rush before nightfall… Take a few night photos at the temples. But there are stories and I’d rather not be apart of them.
Eventually some shops pop up here and there and I can’t tell if it’s familiar because I’m on the right road or because the shops look the same after awhile. I see a couple leaving a shop and stop to verify that I’m, indeed, heading toward downtown. Yes, I am. Feeling more confident, I ride on knowing for sure this time that dinner is on its way.
There’s more traffic now as I approach the city center. I recognize where I am and ride toward the craft market. I need another shower. I park my bike and use one of my locks to secure the bike. I’m sure someone could easily cut the wire.
I take a lap around the Made in Cambodia Market and decide on what I’d like to eat. I’m recognized by one of the sellers. It’s the woman from Angkor Handicraft Association. She’s selling a bunch of scarves from the shop and I resist buying another. All I want to do is buy a ton of scarves.
Walking back toward the tables to order food, I run into the family from the bike tour. I join them at the table for a beer. They’re staying at the hotel where the market is. We watch the performance and say our goodbyes. I finish up my meal and leave empty handed for now.
Could bike riding be anymore ridiculous today? I’m riding along the highway at night, no big deal. I’m trying to look for the street my hotel is on. I keep riding along… Maybe it was that one? Hmm… Oh my god, now it’s really the highway leaving Siem Reap.
I try to turn back but also run into too many people (cyclists, mopeds) so I have to cross the highway in the dark with my tiny flashlight to be on the right side of the road and then cross again for the hotel. I still almost crash into a moped because the driver was going the wrong way and I’m looking for the street. What an idiot I am, as the street has a huge hotel in front that I can’t believe I didn’t notice before. Ugh. Whatever, I’m here and need a shower.