This is the second out of a 2 series post on the Angkor complex in Cambodia. After exploring Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom the first day, we were excited to explore the rest of the Angkor Archaeological Park on the second day. We were only in Cambodia for two full days so we only had two days to explore all of the temples, but it is definitely so expansive that you could easily spend a week here. Continue reading to see why you should visit Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia!
We started our day at Banteay Kdei, “A Citadel of Chambers,” which is a Buddhist temple in the Angkor Archaeological Park. It is built in the Bayon architectural style and when you walk into the temple, there are two successive wall enclosures. After the Khmer region ended in the 15th century, it was abandoned. It was only in the early 1920s that the temple was rediscovered and subsequently restored. After its discovery, the temple was used by Buddhist monks until the 1960s. The temple is important because it symbolizes the architectural styles of the Bayon and the Angkor Wat.
Like Banteay Kdei, Banteay Srei is located in the Angkor Archaeological Park. It is a 10th century Cambodian temple and also goes by the nickname “Citadel of Beauty.” It is easy to see how its nickname could be earned by the asparas, or divine nymphs, that lie carved into the walls of the temple. This particular temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is generally regarded as the “jewel of Khmer art” and is a popular tourist destination. Relative to the other temples, the scale of this temple is much smaller. It was rediscovered in 1914 and although it has suffered from looting and vandalism, it is still a popular tourist destination.
Bakong was constructed by the rulers of the Khmer empire in the 9th century AD. King Indravarman I used it as his official state temple in the ancient city of Hariharalaya, which is now located in Roluos in the Angkor Archaeological Park. It is a beautiful example of early Khmer temple architecture with its gateways and stairs to the upper terraces. After going through three enclosures, you will find yourself at the pyramid.
After a successful day of temple hopping in Angkor, we wound down our last night in Siem Reap by visiting the downtown area. There are plenty of restaurants offering everything from traditional Cambodian fare to Mexican food. You will have your choice of stalls to buy cheap USD2 tanks, which are perfect for hiking in the hot weather, or souvenirs for your loved ones back home.
Overall, the trip to Cambodia opened my eyes to a new way of living and the people we met along the way were extraordinary. From the tut-tut driver to the hotel receptionist, everyone was extremely kind and went out of their way to be nice to us. This hospitality was unexpected and much appreciated. One example is when we were leaving the hotel to head back to Siem Reap International Airport. On the way to the airport, our tut-tut driver’s tire got a flat. Rather than try to fix his tire or bemoan his situation, his number one concern was that my friend and I made our flight. As he pulled over the tut-tut, he called out to another driver that was sitting idle near the street, ensuring that we would get to the airport safely and quickly. His caring attitude left an impression on both my friend and I and left us feeling extremely grateful that he was so thoughtful, especially as we knew no one in this foreign country.
“Often while traveling, it’s not so much where we went but who we met.”