I've never been much of a morning person, but with Pchum Ben still in full swing, the best type of sleep I can get this week is the "early to bed, early to rise" type. So beginning yesterday I decided to wake up with the monks and get a taste of dawn.
This morning I rose at about 4:30 a.m. (give or take a few hits of the snooze button) and went for a run about town. I didn't venture too far today because it's still dark until about 5:30. I had no real route picked out and I didn't want to get lost.
As I left my room and headed toward the park by Independence Monument, people were already bustling around, power walking and doing aerobics. Shop keepers and restaurant owners began opening their businesses, sweeping the floors and setting up chairs.
The temple looked like the site of a huge party, with people entering the gates to offer food to their suffering dead ancestors. Outside were vendors selling lotus flowers and jasmine wreaths, and a food cart apparently hoped to draw in a bit of business from the crowd.
Phnom Penh is a completely different city before the sun rises. It's almost as if society works inside out. Where in the U.S., people are busy with work and errands during the afternoon, here, between noon and 3:00 p.m., the streets are nearly desolate. In Phnom Penh, all the action takes place when the sun is down, giving people a chance to escape the harsh heat.
Now I just need to find a way to stay awake during work today. I never thought I'd say this, but man, I miss Starbucks...