Temple Run, Day Three – Preah Khan – Siem Reap, Cambodia
Our third and final day of temples again started bright and early at 5:30 am. Sokhom picked us up at our hotel, and we started on the hourlong journey out to Banteay Srei, a temple that sits about 30 kilometers outside of Siem Reap. On the way, we stopped off at a field of rice paddies in a small village to watch the sunrise and talk about life with Sokhom. We got to know more about his family and life in Cambodia, and it made for a very special start to the day.
Banteay Srei is a small temple compared to everything else in the Angkor complex, both in area and height. Regardless, it was still a beautiful temple that was worth the drive. It’s a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, built in the 10th century. We got there right as it opened, so there were very few tourists there, which is our preference!
After a brief walk through the temple, we started the journey back towards Siem Reap. Christine was curious about fruits that people were selling on the side of the road, so we made two stops to talk with the locals and buy some fruit. The first stop was for a variety of cantaloupe that we don’t have at home. Sokhom kept calling it a cucumber – it turned out to just be a translation error. That stand also had the most ripe cantaloupe ever, but we decided to stick with the unfamiliar fruit, which was just as tasty. The second stop was for palm tree fruit. It looked like a giant mangosteen to us (mangosteens are awesome by the way), but no luck. The inside of palm tree fruit looks like little jellyfish, and feels like it too when you’re chewing it. It was interesting, and not really tasty. We gave it to Sokhom to give to his kids.
Our next stop was at Preah Khan, another large temple close to Angkor Wat. This temple was an adventure to explore. It shared some of the characteristics of Ta Prohm, being partially reclaimed by nature and having trees growing out of the walls. Large sections of the temple have collapsed, leaving so many hallways ending in big collapsed piles of bricks that it felt like a maze. The picture is of the east gate of the temple, where there’s a big tree that’s easily a few hundred years old growing on top of the wall. How long until that thing falls over?
By this time it was starting to heat up and we were hitting our limit for the morning, so we went back to the hotel to escape the heat. Since it was our last day, we made a late afternoon run out to Prasat Bakong for one last temple. This is another temple that requires a bit of a drive out of Siem Reap to get to. This one was very tall and still in good shape, so we got to climb up and all over it until it was closing time – the temples are only open until 5:30 pm. Our quick trip to Cambodia is over, and just in time. We are officially “templed out!”