Drug Dealing Monks

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We woke early at 4am and crept around the hotel quietly, getting ready to see sunrise at Angkor Wat. The tuk tuk ride was very cold and we made it there with plenty of time to spare. Entering the site they checked our tickets that we'd got the night before and we found a nice quiet place to watch sunrise. Sadly we were bombarded by about 50 other people from a tour group who talked and laughed the whole time destroying the serenity. Some people enjoy the sound of their own voice too much. We wish we were more abrupt and had the guts to tell them to shut up but unfortunately we are too nice. Knowing that Angkor Wat looks better in the afternoon light we jumped into our tuk tuk and headed to the Bayon Temple.

We had the Bayon Temple to ourselves and luckily this trend continued for the morning with relative peace from the many tour groups. We stayed ahead of the predictable tour path as we checked out the Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, North Kleang, Prasats Suor Prat and the South Kleang. We stopped for breakfast at our tuk tuk driver's affiliated restaurant then continued on to Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup. Things were beginning to look the same by this stage so we headed to Ta Prohm. This temple was unreal. It was like something out of the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie. In fact it was very similar as they filmed the movie at a temple about 60 kms away. The temple was in disrepair and had trees growing out of the walls and rubble everywhere. We enjoyed looking around and exploring the little alcoves though we did find ourselves a bit lost inside the rabbit warren at one stage. Luckily we were directed in the right direction by a fellow explorer. He was taking a rest and downloading his digital photos to his I-Pod. Bit of a wake up call that we are actually in the 21st century.

Our final stop for the day was back at Angkor Wat. We headed inside and had a look around. Absolutely amazing; it was huge. While we were exploring we were approached by a monk that told us he was learning English and asked if he could talk to us for practice. Inviting us to sit down and encouraging us to take photos, we chatted for a while. He was young, about 18-20 and although he said he had only been learning English for 6 weeks, he spoke fluently. Throughout the conversation he kept shivering and shaking, attributing this to the cold weather. Strangely he also had blood shot eyes. After about 5 minutes he began to press us for money. He said it was for his studies and so feeling manipulated we gave him $5 USD. What could we do? We had taken photos of him so we really had no choice. Wandering on, Meg jokingly telling Rick that she thought the Monk was on drugs, we continued looking around following the outside walls around the perimeter where there were detailed carved murals. When we reached the third wall Meg was getting a bit bored and her attention wandered to the outer walls. Outside the gates she could see a monk with his bright orange robes talking to 2 guys on a motorbike. Then, she watched the monk exchange a fistful of money for a small plastic bag. WTF? We think it was a drug deal and low and behold the monk in question was, you guessed it, the one we had just given 5 bucks of our hard earned cash to!

Craving western food and absolutely starving at 4.30pm we had the earliest dinner ever of beef stroganoff and Beer Lao. Overall we loved Angkor Wat and all the other temples but we definitely will not be engaging in conversation with bloodshot eyed, shivering monks again.
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