Siem Reap/Angkor Wat

Oh my gosh, I’m so excited to write about today’s road trip that I feel so behind on yesterday’s amazing temple tour.  Our ultimate goal was Banteay Srei, about 36 km outside Angkor Wat. On the way, we stopped at Pre Rup built in 961, and a beautiful balance of laterite, brick and sandstone construction. Mr Mony said it was a crematorium, but the de rigeur guidebook snootily differs with the description, saying that it’s just another temple. The layout was 5 towers similar to Angkor Wat but featuring a lot more red brick since the pre-AW construction hadn’t quite figured out how to get the volume of sandstone down the canal systems to the construction site.

Pre Rup
Pre Rup close-up- the holes used to be filled with stucco
East Mebon

Next, we stopped at East Mebon where there were really cool elephant sculptures on each of the terrace corners. 


Next, we stopped in what was essentially some woman’s front yard and saw several cooking plants & herbs and the process for making palm sugar, palm juice and palm sugar candy. We also saw a cashew tree which was very cool since I didn’t realize each fruit bears only one nut. 

“Mini” Banteay Srei

Finally, we made it to Banteay Srei, known for its “miniature” size.  It was a temple built by the king’s counsellor, and translates to the “citadel of the women or beauty.” The bas-reliefs were amazing and the preservation of the archways and sculpture was impressive.  

Next, we had lunch which was pretty good but felt slightly tourist trap-y to me. That’s the one trade off to having a guide- sometimes there’s an encouraged stopping place on the itinerary and that’s just the way it is. 

After lunch, we went to the Silk factory, meant to encourage artisan hand-woven silk derived from the yellow cocoon process. It was super cool to learn about the 47 day life cycle of the silkworm. The creation of the silk thread and the weaving afterwards was absolutely spectacular.  We went to the gift shop and there were some beautiful clothes but it’s hard to feel cute and in the mood for clothes shopping when sweaty and grimy from gel sunscreen (Mistake!  Note to self, buy lotion next time!  Although it worked really well since we never got sunburned).  
Next, we went to the Centre d’Angkor, where there are several mini-stations showing incense, soap, basket, oils and coffee making. We bought several spices, including the famous(?) Kamput pepper. 
On the way back, we drove by the Royal residence and admired the cool trees lining the road. 
We went to dinner in the hotel restaurant and afterwards, I had a traditional Khmer massage, which involved a lot of active stretching. At certain points, I was being massaged with the woman’s foot on my leg and getting sort of pinched on the arm. I did feel good afterwards but I think I’m more of a knead-y person. 
Then it was time for bed. I arranged to have the tuk tuk driver pick me up at 530 so I could see Bayon one more time at sunrise. SMS thought I was crazy but encouraged me to go ahead on my own. 

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