Shopping only allowed between 5am and 7am, they say. Nah, I reply. There must be time to shop in the evening too. Who the heck is up and out at 5am?
Pre-Asia, I worked for an exhibition organiser. The company, and I, were based in Edinburgh but our exhibitions were held in Glasgow. For each exhibition there would be a team of around six of us from the Edinburgh office on-site in Glasgow every day for approximately 10 days. Those higher paid sales personnel and management would stay in a hotel in Glasgow, while us lowly secretaries would take advantage of the great daily expenses rate. And rather than spend it on a hotel room, would travel in every day. I would be up at 4am to get the 5.15am bus to the train station in time to catch the 6am train, arriving in Glasgow around 7am. Then a short taxi ride would get us on-site before 8am when the doors opened for exhibitors. A 5am walk through the dark to the bus stop.
Around about the same time I took a coach, along with a friend, from Edinburgh to Calais, France for the day. At that time many people crossed over the Channel into France to take advantage of the cheaper wine and other items. An organised ‘bus tour’ was common. And pretty exciting back then! We left on a Friday evening in time to catch an early morning ferry over to France. As we were not interested in the mega hypermarkets, on arrival in Calais, which is mainly a port town, we took a train to Bologna, which is much more ‘authentically’ French. We slept back in Calais with the rest of the group in some ship’s bow shaped hotel. Extremely thankful to finally lie in a bed that was not moving before being up and out around 5am for the ferry again and long Sunday drive back to Scotland. Two 5am ferry boardings.
Fast forward a decade to Bardia National Park where I was partner in a safari lodge. Getting up at 4am was a regular thing to ensure breakfast would be ready for the guests at 5am so they could be at the park gate for the 6am opening. Foggy and cold in the winter, steamy and hot in the summer, those 4am starts were hard work.
That brings me up to Kathmandu. I wish I could talk about being energized by sunrises over the Himalayas but in general those early morning sunrises in the hills, gazing at mountains, were mainly followed closely by going back to bed. No, from Kathmandu most of my early morning forays have been when travelling back to Scotland, for I would rather go on an early flight, and trips to more tropical places.
I think the last pre-5am out and about was in Bangkok for an early morning flight to Koh Lipe. I remember that in the airport’s domestic terminal, nothing was open that early. At the other end of the flight, there was a bit of a wait before the first taxi van heading to the docks for the first ferry to the island. Another early morning fly-drive-ferry ride.
But probably the most memorable 5am wanderings have been to watch sunrise over Ankor Wat in Cambodia. I have done this twice although have been to the Ankor complex a good few times. Perhaps I have been in the Himalayas too long to fully appreciate the majesty of the mountains in the morning. But an early morning tuk-tuk ride to see sunrise over Ankor has tourist me gawking in awe the same way tourists to Nepal gaze at the mountains.
So yes, there have been a handful of times I have been out and about with a purpose at 5am (and we won’t mention arriving home at 5am after an Edinburgh night out). But I’m not yet, at the time of writing anyway, ready to experience sunrise over Lazimpat while waiting in line at the veggie shop.