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Cambodia Adventure, Continued 23 February 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Travelling.
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Installment 2


After a leisurely eating breakfast poolside, we were all ready to go and see some more temples. It was gearing up to be another very hot day, so my initial plan of renting bicycles and be a little more independent had long been discarded, and Mr. Thy picked us up from the hotel again.

Unfortunately, it being Valentine’s Day and all, the hotel we were staying at did not have a room for us to stay for the third night, so we loaded all our belongings into the tuk-tuk, and headed off towards a place which we thought was nearby. But when we called them again for directions, it turned out they were out on the way to the airport, which we did not particularly want. So we found a little boutique hotel called Villa Kiara Hotel.

It was a little pricey, but it was absolutely worth staying here; the manager, who is French, and his wife are very sociable and friendly people, who really seem to enjoy running the place. And they do it well. It was even further out from the centre of town than our initial place, so the last bit of road is unpaved and quite wobbly, but they provide guests with a free tuk-tuk service into town, and plenty of directions for coming back to tuk-tuk drivers who do not know how to find them.

So, on the agenda for the day, we only had one temple in mind – Banteay Srei – but we told Mr. Thy to find a couple of other ones to break up the ride. He was more than happy to do this for us, and took us first to see Pre Rup.

Pre Rup

Pre Rup was built in the year 961, and is completely different from the other (later) temples that we had seen, in that it has a starkness to it, and a remarkable lack of decorations. Whereas all the other temples have (or once had) intricate sculptures and reliefs etc, Pre Rup was minimalistic, with only a few statues. The staircases on all four sides were so steep that after climbing up, I climbed part of the way back down backwards, to keep the point of gravity of my body as close to the stairs as possible (and to avoid vertigo).

Yet the red stone (laterite apparently) used to build it makes it very interesting and aesthetically pleasing all the same, and we very much enjoyed our visit. When climbing to the top, it is also worth glancing around, because there is not a thick tree covering like the other temples, so you can see quite a far way around the Cambodian countryside. You are supposed to be able to see Angkor Wat as well from the top, however, we were unsuccessful in spotting it.

Next we continued to something completely different;

Banteay Srei

This temple is, as opposed to Pre Rup, famous for its intricateness. It is a small temple, quite a way away from the other temples. It was constructed out of red sandstone, a hard type of stone which lends itself to carving, and which they certainly took advantage of – the carvings are deep and intricate, some beautifully preserved and others very well restored, it was just a delight to visit this temple. There were almost too many things to look at, and I bet you could come back again and again and always see something new. The colourings of the sandstone also made for a pretty picture – it ranged from sandstone yellow to dark red, to dark mouldy patches that were almost black, and other parts had a weak green tinge to them, all adding to the mystery and my enjoyment of the temple.

It was built in the 10th Century, and dedicated to Shiva, and I was completely blown away by the beauty of it. It was apparently not built on the direction of a King (and this is the only temple in the area not to be built by royalty), but by a councillor to a King. If you ever go to see the temples at Angkor, make sure you do not miss out on this one.

On the way back from Banteay Srei, we also made a stop at Banteay Kdei.

Banteay Kdei

Banteay Kdei is a very long structure with a continuous walkway stretching from the entrance all the way to the other end – which makes for an awesome picture if you are lucky enough to find no tourists popping up into the middle. Which is practically impossible.

It was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII (yes, the same person who built Ta Prohm and Bayon) but it is uncertain who the temple was dedicated to. We were told that this temple used to be a university, and that Jayavarman VII had built it for his tutor, however, the Wikipedia entry makes no reference to this information (or anything like it). There are references to monks having occupied the enclosed temple at various stages, perhaps this is what they meant.

At the very far end of the temple, there is another large tree whose roots have dug into the structure and which, like at Ta Prohm, is partially ruining the building and partially holding it up.

What a memorable day.



1. Lizeth - 24 February 2010

Prachtige beschrijvingen. Ik zie het helemaal voor me. Jullie hoofden moeten helemaal vol zitten met alle indrukken en beelden van de reis. Hopelijk heb je snel tijd om de foto’s erbij te doen. Liefs. Lizeth

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