After my escape from the exercising women atop Bakheng at sunrise and a quick breakfast from a street vendor, Mr. Kong and I started the long journey out to Banteay Srei. As you will recall, Mr. Kong had a small motor for his Tuk Tuk, so our speed never topped 30 mph. It was just enough speed to have a light breeze to keep me cool. And wonderfully slow enough to fall into the mesmerizing scenery of green, green, green rice paddies and palm trees. Mr. Kong drove for two hours outside in the full sun over bumpy, sometimes jarring roads. While I on the other hand, relaxed under the shade of the umbrella roof with my feet up. About 30 minutes before our destination the rains hit hard. I suggested we pull over and get a drink and wait it out. The bedraggled looking Mr. Kong gratefully agreed and after I was settled with a cool drink, he proceeded to have the lovely ladies at the nearby street cafe extract his back pain with suction cups.
Once the rains stopped we bounced along again and came upon Banteay Srei – the “woman’s temple.” This little gem was built by the guru of the future king Jayavarman V. in the 2nd half of the 10th century. Nearly every inch of the red sandstone is decorated with intricate designs. Although small in size, I kept circling and re-visiting different sides to breathe in the beauty.
After a nice long visit with mostly European visitors viewing quietly alongside me, Mr. Kong and I headed over to Bang Melea, the ruins that are ensconced with rooting trees and tumbling boulders. I was excited, as I had been told you can climb and explore all you want at this location. But unfortunately I found three large tourist buses had just arrived shortly before me, so it was over-run with picture-posing frenzy. Needless to say, I didn’t stay long.
On the way out to Mr. Kong, I had to stop and spread the wealth to the locals. At every location they were selling mahogany beads. I’m hopeful that the trees are sustainably grown… they are gorgeous!
So then Mr. Kong and I started our long meander back to Siem Reap. Here are a few of the images I caught, when I remembered to take photos. It was so lovely to just smile and wave at the curious, happy faces.
What a great day.
So I will leave you there for now. Coming up, one more day of gorgeous ruins, orphans, art… Stay tuned.