Day two rolled around and after an very early start to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, we began our trip around what we thought was going to be the grand circuit. The map below shows the small circuit, which we had done the previous day, in red and the grand circuit in yellow. However, as we set off, the trees and temples fell away to be replaced with rice paddies and cultivated fields. After about forty-five minutes it was pretty clear that we weren’t following the grand circuit. Despite a slight worry that we were being taken to the floating village on Tonlé Sap, somewhere our driver had tried to persuade us to visit the day before, we sat back and enjoyed the passing scenery.
Fortunately for us and our laid-back attitudes, we eventually arrived at Banteay Srei, a temple well outside the most well-known parts of the Angkor Temple Complex.
In part because of the early hour and also the temple’s remote location there were very few tourists. This was not the only reason for Banteay Srei being my favourite temple. As can be seen above, the carvings in the walls of the temple and over doorways was absolutely exquisite. The details were marvellously preserved and the temple was a little smaller so we were able to explore it thoroughly. We also to the opportunity to sit down and eat out breakfast just outside the temple.
Over the years, thanks to the hard work of looters, vandals and time, a lot of statues are missing their heads. I just couldn’t resist standing in to do the job for this Devas as he pulled on the Nāga Vasuki to help churn the Ocean of Milk.
Preah Khan provided another fix for my love of taking photos down corridors, they just seemed to go on forever. While a lot of the temple was falling down there were still some extremely detailed carvings intact. It also felt very tranquil in comparison to some of the other temples.
This little gate pavilion at Neak Pean reminded me of the entrance to the river Styx in Greek Mythology, a feeling underscored by the walk across a lake of dead trees to reach the island temple.
A lot of the Angkor temples seem to have a similar architectural structure whereby four smaller buildings surround a central building or peak as shown here at Pre Rup. This layout was normally at the centre or top of the temples and then surrounded by a series of galleries.