Kbal Spean, Banteay Srey, Banteay Samre, and Ta Phrohm

Day 4 in Siem Reap.  Last night before we had left Hon, we had the courtesy of telling him we’d be ready to go at 9:30, so he didn’t need to wake up at 7am to wait for our business.

A curious stare as we leave Siem Reap.

Today we again headed northeast though not as far as Beng Melea the day before.  But it was another perfect opportunity to throw in the headphones and enjoy the tuk-tuk drive through Cambodian countryside.  After reveling in yesterday’s enjoyable drives to and from Beng Melea I was sincerely looking forward to this one and I was not disappointed. We saw much of the same rural villages, motos packed with people and things, and side markets. Hon even bought us some face masks – never thought I’d wear one, but they are great for filtering dust on a long tuk-tuk ride.

Kbal Spean was a bit of a hike – the air was still and it was hot.  Kbal Spean is a set of Buddhist carvings impressively carved into stone creek bed.

These were apparently only discovered about 40 years ago and haven’t been largely visited, particularly during the Khmer Rouge.

After relaxing by the creek we went down a bit to the waterfall further downstream.

Several folks were taking showers under it – I opted to stay dry, or sweaty, as it were.

In contrast to the fairly basic carvings at Kbal Spean – but I mean, how detailed can you get in a stone bed? – the carvings in the temple of Banteay Srey were immaculate.

Not surprisingly, unlike at most of the temples, they were done by women.  Banteay Srey loosely translates to “citadel of the women”.

Though the massive 400 meter long wall carvings at Angkor Wat take the cake in terms of impressive scale, the carvings at Banteay Srey is a first place finisher in terms of ornate detail.

After Banteay Srey and a bit of rest…

… we went back to the outside of the “main” temple groupings and checked out Banteay Samre.  It is the same style as Angkor Wat and we had the temple to ourselves.

The best part about this temple was finding a momma cat who had just recently given birth to 3 kittens.

The kittens’ first playground was Samre – and they were loving it, hopping up and down on the temple steps, and each other, and their mom, while mom tried to catch a nap.

We concluded the day at Ta Phrohm, a massive jungle temple – basically a bigger, but slightly less run-down version of Beng Melea.  It was cool to experience the atmosphere of this temple at dusk.  Huge trees hundreds of years old were growing up, around, and on the walls, spires, and statutes of the temple.

Hon had bought us beers for our ride back – after a long day in the sun, an Angkor beer (which basically tastes like an Old Style, 5% apv) tastes pretty good as you bumpalong home.


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