Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day Two in Angkor Archaeological Park

So on day 1 we saw most of well known spots, but day 2 it was time to go a little further and see a bit more of what Angkor has to offer.

We started our day with a traditional rice porridge at an outdoor restaurant with a few locals and a woman cooking the soup over a fire. An excellent $0.50 spent.

Then we headed first to Pre Rup, and interesting place, but nothing extraordinary.

From there we took the long drive to Banteay Srey. Banteay Srey is a beautiful, well restored temple about 35 km north of the main park. It's a temple to Shiva (Hindu god) and has some beautiful, intricate carvings.

We spent a while here because, not only has the temple been restored, but they've made a very modern, well made information area where you can learn more about the history of the temple. I wish every temple had nice information areas like this so I could have learned more about the history of these places.

On our way back to the main park, we made a stop at the land mine museum which lays about half way between the main park and Banteay Srey. I didn't take any photos here to save battery but it was definitely a good stop and very educational.

From there we went back to the main complex to East Mebon, which I liked because of these elephants.

On we went to Neak Prean and then to Preah Khan, which is another big temple.

Preah Khan is considered another must see by my guide book. It's another huge complex, but much of it still lays in ruins. We saw some men working on one building, but if they're going to reconstruct everything, it might take many years.
There's lots of cool carvings, and here we caught a photo of an awesome moth too.

This huge tree is somehow supported by the wall. No idea how..

Finally, we finished here at about 4:30 and slowly made it back to our tuk-tuk. We knew the next stop was to watch the sunset, but seeing as how the sun wouldn't set for an hour and a half, we had too much time to spare. We got back in the tuk-tuk and after driving back through Angkor Thom, we came across these guys.

Some monkeys had come out of the jungle to say hello. The vendors were on it right away, trying to sell us bananas to feed the monkeys. While I'm all for observing wildlife, I am always disgusted by those who feed them. We saw people getting bitten by wild monkeys in Bali to get the bananas they were holding. Not to mention that they should be hunting for their own food, not relying on humans to feed them. Anyway, the boyfriend was quite excited to see monkeys so unexpectedly. He has a strange fascination with animals that I can't quite figure out.

That took up a few minutes of our time but we still had more time to kill. After getting to Phnom Bakheng, the mountain temple viewing area for the sunset we found some meat on sticks grilling on a barbeque. 5 for a dollar sounded good to us and we chowed down. After that we started the assent to the top of Phenom Bakheng. It's a short 15 minute hike to the top, and then a literal climb up to the top of the temple. The stairs are narrow and steep, making it a difficult climb up and a precarious climb down.

I'm not sure how well you can see here, but the boyfriend is practically climbing up the steps they are so steep.

The sunset wasn't too impressive because of the clouds. This was as good as it got, and then it went behind the clouds making for a rather unspectacular finish to our day.

This concludes my Angkor chapter of my trip to Cambodia. Yes, we did it in two days. Was it enough time? I think I saw enough temples. The only reason to spend more time is if you choose to go by bicycle or see the temples at a more relaxed pace. I didn't take the tour of the floating village, but I didn't need to as you'll see in the next segment of my adventure, I took a boat from Siem Reap to Battambang, a smaller, much less touristy city.

For price references, my Day 1 trip cost $12 total, plus a tip for the driver, Day 2 was $15 total plus tip. Day two was more expencive because of the long drive up to Bantaey Srey. I think it was worth it though. Our hotel was $8 per person/ per night and well worth it.

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