|BEAUTIFUL GLOW ON BANTEAY SREI|
The nice thing about going by tuk tuk is that we could enjoy the view of the rice paddies, small villages and jungle-esque surroundings. Sure, all the cars overtook us, but we could hear, smell and even feel the surroundings as we drifted by.
It took perhaps an hour and a half to get to Banteay Srei (we both kinda dozed off in the sun and slight breeze). Banteay Srei is another temple in a somewhat different style to the ones at Angkor. For me, the most noticeable difference was its color - a pinky coral rather than the usual brownish grey. Banteay Srei is a huge complex surrounded by marshes but the temple itself is quite compact. We finished walking around in less than 40 minutes and headed back to the tuk tuk and continued onto Kbal Spean.
Hey! Give me $100 so I can go to school.Kbal Spean
- Sorry, I don't have $100.
Then give me $1000.
~ young boy at Banteay Srei
We actually had no idea wheat Kbal Spean was, actually. Turns out it's a sacred river/waterfall, and it's quite a bit of a hike. Here, I'll admit that a better pair of shoes may have come in handy (I was in my regular flats, thankfully my boyfriend was in sneakers - I don't think flip flops would have cut it) and some kind of physical agility and endurance will help. But it was worth it. Perhaps even more than Banteay Srei.
Granted, it was quite a climb up, which included gallivanting over rocks and tree roots, but the hike was punctuated with breathtaking vistas. When you get to the top (and it's a 1500m hike), there's a tranquil stream (we went during the dry season) and on the riverbed there are beautiful engravings of Hindu gods and a tapestry of lingams. And butterflies everywhere! It was so beautiful and peaceful and calm. And after the hike, it was so nice to sit in the shade and listen to the water flowing.
As we were walking around, we ran into Mr. Kear - our driver. He told us he was going to bathe and purify himself. He led us down the stream to a clearing and a small waterfall. Here, he changed into a sarong and bathed under the waterfall, claiming that the waters there healed all ailments and cleared both the mind and soul. Both the boy and I decided to get a little wet in the fresh water - if not for the cleansing value, at least for the refreshment. Regardless of your beliefs, there was a definite mystical quality to the whole experience.
After the 'purification' we headed back down to the parking lot. By this time, it was around 1:30 or 2:00PM and we were pretty hungry so we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in the parking lot. We ate with the driver and chatted about wedding traditions in Cambodia, his family and how he wooed his wife.
They close access to the mountain at 3:30. That's when the tigers come out.
~ Mr. Kear, as we reached the bottom
After lunch we went back to the hotel and called it a day and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool. In the evening, we headed back to the Pub Street area and had some pre-dinner drinks at Miss Wong. It's a vintage Shanghai inspired bar and I absolutely LOVED it. A little pricey, but oh-so-cool and some great, unusual cocktails on the menu.
here and here and the Angkor packing guide!