Following the first day of temples, we felt like we had already seen a lot of temples and that another day might be overkill. However, based on suggestions from a number of friends and colleagues we had scheduled another full day of temple touring and we are very glad we did.
We saw two major temples during the first part of the day and two other smaller temples in the later part of the day.
Again, we were picked up fairly early at 8am from our hotel and taken to our first activity of the day which was an elephant ride through Angkor Thom.
Following the elephant ride we were off to our first new temple of the day, called Ta Phrom. It has recently been known as the Tomb Raider temple because parts of the movie were actually filmed at this temple.
See the photos below.
The interesting part of this temple was that you truly felt like a discoverer coming upon this temple for the first time. It was still covered in jungle roots and had little restoration done to it in order to keep it looking the way it was originally discovered by French Archaeologists in the 1960s. It was very surreal to be in a temple that really took you back in time 50 years and Ta Phrom was also set up in a way where you could duck around certain corners and disappear from sight thus making it feel like you were alone in the temple. It was a very unique and exciting experience. ( Now don’t go thinking that the stars aligned and we just happened to be at this temple when no one else was which is what the photos probably lead you to believe….no, we simply waited out the crowd and then snapped like crazy in hopes of having photos without people in them as much as possible.)
After a few hours of discovering and unearthing Ta Phrom our tour guide extracted us from play time and we set off for the next temple.
The next temple was called Banteay Srei and felt very different than the other temples. It was built in the late 10th century, so about 2-300 year prior to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom and what really makes it different is that it was constructed out or red/pink sandstone which is much softer than the gray sandstone used in the other temples and lends it self to intricate and detailed carvings as you can see in the photos below. It was also a much smaller temple than the others and built on a single level as opposed to having numerous levels to climb up and down like Bayon and Angkor Wat. It is believed that this temple was actually carved by women, as so much of the designs are delicate and feminine and resemble that of lace and considering they are 1000 years old they are in remarkable condition, but you can judge for yourself….
Despite the midday heat, we had a fun time exploring the details and carvings of Banteay Srei. Like Ta Phrom it felt very different than Angkor Wat and made us appreciate our day 2 of temples.
After a brief lunch we saw two minor temples in the afternoon. One was called Prasat Kravan which was built in the early 10th century and showed an example of the simple architecture and building with brick style temples that were common before sophisticated techniques such as those used on Angkor Wat were developed.
Following the visit to Kravan we had a minor tour debacle with a broken down van, as seen below. Luckily we were traveling in style and they picked us up in a Lexus.
The Lexus is actually a motorcycle with a trailer attached to it for transporting people. They are called tuk tuks like in Thailand but they really are moto-trailers and were everywhere in Cambodia and quite an inexpensive and fun way to travel.
The second temple was Chau Say Tevoda and was a smaller replica of Angkor Wat that was build inside the Angkor Thom complex. It had a few interesting sculptures and wasn’t too interesting but we had seen so many great sights already we were content to go to a small, tranquil temple.
After touring all day, we made a brief stop at an artisan workshop and of course bought ourselves some art. It was a great place called Artisans D’Angkor that trains Cambodia youth between 18-25 yrs old to refine their trades at stone work, silk weaving, metal work, wood work, etc to make art that is sold in their stores. It was all hand made and all wonderful art. Carrie and I were impressed by the quality of the products and if our suitcases were bigger we might have made more purchases.
This inspired me, and I pulled Carrie kicking and screaming, to head back to Angkor Wat for sunset. <> She was not happy with me but the fact she could ride in another moto-trailer was a good time and we even saw them filling up gas with a one litre bottle of diesel.
That is how gas is sold all over the countryside in Cambodia and makes it easy to buy or sell exactly one litre of gas as the bottles are exactly one litre. No need for automatic counters on those road side gas stations. They sell the black version, high octane, Johnnie Walker diesel fuel.
Sunset viewing is a much hyped activity to see the sunset on Angkor Wat and I would say that it was somewhat uninspiring compared to the hype but I am happy I went nonetheless. <> We even had some holy company along with us to improve the view.