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 close-up- the holes used to be filled with stucco|
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.