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Cambodia: The Far Temples and Kbal Spean

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On our second day in Siem Reap, we didn't get up so early. Today, instead of a tuktuk, we rented a car because the plan was to visit the far attractions and I didn't regret this decision even if a car was way more expensive than a tuktuk.

Banteay Samre
There were so few tourists here.

 Our first stop was Banteay Samre. It took us nearly an hour to get there. There were hardly any tourists around and we felt we had the temple all to ourselves. Banteay Samre wasn't as ruined as some of the other temples we visited and because there were almost no other people, it had a quiet, solemn atmosphere.

Monkeys and other sculptures in Banteay Srei

Exquisite carvings in Banteay Srei

Next, we visited Banteay Srei. There are two things I remember clearly about this temple: the reddish hue of the structure, and the delicate carvings. It seems this temple was being restored too because some of the cavings looked new. Of all the temples we visited, the carvings in Banteay Srei were the most magnificent.

The River of a Thousand Lingas

Kbal Spean
The next attraction was Kbal Spean, the River of a Thousand Lingas. By this time, I wasn't feeling so good. Must have been something I ate last night during the buffet. Anyway, I felt weak but we still had to trek 1.5 kilometers to get to the river. The path itself wasn't hard. I've trekked steeper and rougher terrain before. But since I wasn't feeling well, I needed to take several breaks along the way so it took us almost an hour to get to the spot.

A "linga" was a round phallic symbol of the Hindu god, Shiva, carved in the sandstones of the river. They were supposed to fertilize the Siem Reap river flowing into Angkor.

First glimpse of Beng Melea
The farthest attraction we had to visit was Beng Melea. We needed to pay an additional $5 each to visit this temple. It took us nearly 2 hours to get there but it was certainly worth the effort. This temple was discovered in 1990 and was in a very ruined state. We couldn't find the entrance but a kindly guide led us to the side of the temple where we had to climb the wall to get inside the temple.

Ruins of Beng Melea

Be prepared to climb here
Once inside, everything was a mess, unlike all the other temples. And this, really, was the beauty of Beng Melea, to the delight of adventurous souls like me. If any temple could make you feel like you were Lara Croft, it would be this one. You'd be climbing, scaling, and crawling under stuff here.

This was our last stop and despite visiting only four sights today, I was tired. We went back to the guesthouse at five in the afternoon and opted to use the extra time to visit the night market to shop for souvenirs. We bought shirts, magnets, silk scarves, a golden plate (lol) and a book about the temples.

That night, we took the night bus going back to Phnom Penh.


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