On the Wat Trail
There are many temples in Siem Reap, each one unique and worth a visit. Some temples are within a few minutes of the other so it makes good sense to view them on the same day. I saw Pre Rup from across a rice field on our way to Banteay Srei. This was such a pleasant surprise that I begged my guide and tuk tuk driver to let me explore the ruins. In this temple we can see the pyramid style of construction crowned by five lotus towers (in this photo you only see three).
Farther afield is Banteay Samré which is one of the least crowded temples we visited. There's a pleasant walk between tall trees leading up to the walled temple grounds. Unlike Banteay Srei where you can only walk around the perimeter of the temples, at Banteay Samré we could enter the central temple. It is bare now but once upon a time within this hallowed walls, only the high priests or Brahmin were allowed entry.
On our way back to Siem Reap from Tonlé Sap Lake, my tuk tuk driver took me to Phnom Krom which is situated on a hilltop. We climbed a long flight of stairs and walked for several minutes before we got to Phnom Krom. It was a tough walk in the afternoon sun and I had to stop to catch my breath and rest my legs a little. There's a stunning view from the top of surrounding villages which were flooded during my visit in late October. We saw a rainbow in the distance, a promising sight in the midst of ricefields and houses under water.
Baphuon has such a spectacular secret hidden in its ancient stones. When the French archaelogists were restoring the retaining wall in the western side of the temple, they pieced together an unfinished reclining Buddha which may have been built by the Buddhist faithful around the 15th or 16th century. The temple itself was completed during the reign of Udayadityavarman II (1048-1065). In the photo above you can discern the head of the Buddha, his eyes, nose and ear.
Arrange with your hotel for a personal guide. They are licensed and wear a uniform. The hotel can also arrange for a tuk tuk driver or if you prefer, a chauffeur and car. The rates are quite reasonable, around $25.00 for a full day guided tour and $15.00 for the driver.
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Images by Charie