Friday, August 3, 2007

The day of temples

I wanted to do something a little different for this visit to Angkor since I saw most of the more famous sites the last time I was here. So I'd planned a day that would take me to two temples that were off the beaten path, with the furthest of them being about 80 km from Siem Riep. I had also wanted to go to Kbal Spean, a riverbed with thousands of carvings around it. But the road out there ended up being impassable by tuk-tuk. The girl I met on the boat thought it all sounded like a good idea, so she joined me.
These first pictures are of Beng Melea. It was built in the 12th century, and has been left completely to nature. Lonely Planet calls it the true "Indiana Jones" experience. I'd kind of have to agree since when we got there we heard all this yelling and some of the Cambodians were after a boa constrictor. Not sure what they were going to do with it once they caught it, but it was entertaining to watch.

This whole temple area was really amazing, and other than a few walk ways it really was an adventure. We crawled all over the stones to get up to other parts of the temple, and then through the more intact areas, fighting our way through spider webs and who knows what else.

It was also blissfully light on tourists, making it well worth the trip out there. Plus the scenery on the drive almost made it worth it all on its own.

After Beng Melea we headed to Banteay Srea--"The Citadel of the Women." It is one of the smaller temples, but it was thought to have been made by women because of the incredibly intricate carvings on all of the stone. It really was beautiful and very well preserved. You could stand and stare at one side of one of the small temples for 20 minutes and just continue to see new details emerge.

We then went to Banteay Samre, a slightly less impressive temple, but still nice to wander around, and again almost tourist-less.
After that we hit Pre Rup, where we made a quick climb to the top.
Then on to Phnom Bakheng for the sunset. It was a super busy day, but absolutely incredible. We wrapped it up with dinner at a nice spot in the Alley and dessert at the Blue Pumpkin. The next morning I got up and wandered around the town, checking out galleries and markets until it was time to catch the bus back to Phnom Penh.


Stacie said...

Those are some sweet pictures!!! They look awesome, I showed them to somme of the girls at work.

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