World Heritage Site
The next morning we woke up, got into the Tuk Tuk, and prepared for a longer drive out to Banteay Srei. Banteay Srei is one of the older temples and has some of the most detailed carvings of any of the temples of Angkor. It is rumored that it must have been carved by women due to the intricacy of the detail. Last year, this is the temple that my friend Tú had fainted at and where I had felt ill. I remembered it being uncomfortably hot and sunny last year and this year was absolutely no different. We showed our passes to the ticket checkers and entered the temple.
We saw some kids trying to sell stuff. Suddenly, they all ran into the forest and disappeared. Ten seconds later, two police arrived on a moto and started looking around for them. We returned to the temple to explore it. The sun beat down on me again and I started to feel sick again, don’t know what it is about Banteay Srei. . .
Afterwards, we started walking towards Kbol Spean because a guidebook we had said “continue on the road past Banteay Srei to a trailhead at the bottom of a hill and hike about 3 km to the carvings.” Realizing that it might be a bit more of a walk than we thought, I went to ask our driver to take us to Kbol Spean and he agreed for a few extra dollars. The trailhead to Kbol Spean turned out to be about 20 km away from Banteay Srei. We got to the trailhead, had lunch, and set out.
At the bottom of the trail, there was a creek with more butterflies than I had ever seen anywhere else. As we walked up the trail through the forest, I realized that this is the kind of place that my mom would love to see so I plan to bring my parents here when they come to Cambodia. Just as it seemed we might never get to this supposedly amazing temple, we arrived at the creek. We first saw the circular carvings on the riverbed and as we explored found more and more carvings all over the area. It was probably our favorite site because there were very few people, and we seemed to be the only un-guided ones! It was also somewhat surreal, all of these strange carvings that had been created by “religious hermits” in the rocky riverbed and on the rocky banks surrounding the creek.
We walked back to the trailhead and the waiting tuk tuk and saw two other temples, though by that time, I wasn’t feeling very good. I had a coconut and that made me feel slightly better. When I got back to the hotel, I started taking the antibiotics that I had been given in case I had any problems. They seemed to clear whatever it was quite fast. Had some more nice dinner, can’t remember if it was Thai or Italian or what exactly, went back to the hotel and slept as early as we could.