To Rock and Ruins!

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 03, 2011

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Where I stayed
Heart of Angkor guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, January 22, 2011

An easier start to the day at 9am, this time with the excellent company of Naseem to share Pov's tuktuk. Pre Rup was our first stop, a rather insignificant temple ruin, I could not tell the difference between this, Ta Keo and East Mebon which we would visited later in the day.
Banteay Svey at 37 km away from Siem Reap was in fact a leisurely ride though local villages and the countryside. This site was unbelievably touristy, lined with enough souvenir stalls to rival Siem Reap town centre. Banteay Svey itself is smaller but showcases many intricate cravings on the walls. It probably felt alot smaller than it should, owing to the swarm of tourists. The sun was strong and without shade, many just had a quick wander through, myself included. One consistent feature at Angkor sites - clean public toilets. That is really worth a mention here.
The highlight of today was no doubt the Banteay Samre, much nearer to the Angkor ruins. Due to fact that access to this site was much smaller, impossible for mega tourist buses to pass through, meant that it was practically empty of what I now refer to as The Swarm (like the bees). Banteay Samre was in immaculate condition with 95% of the site intact. Its small scale also meant intimacy and the temple walls would change dramatically in light and shade. The atmosphere was peaceful and serene, lending a fairytale like feel to this ancient temple ruin. Even with the mediating western monk with his ipod plugged in, both Naseem and myself agreed that Banteay Samre was truly one of its kind.
The opportunity to consume half-embryonic duck egg presented itself just outside of Banteay Samre and I just had to have one. The khmer version was simpler with salt and pepper together with a squish of fresh lime. Still tasty I must say. East Mebon was not given much attention until I read that it is situated in the middle of East Baray measuring 8 km by 1 km. It has similar features to Ta Keo and Pre Rup with tall towers on a square grid sitting on a pyramid styled temple mountain. 
Ta Som and Preah Khan on the other hand eluded that same mythical feel of Banteay Samre with a cruciform layout and stone ruins. The linear doorways in the middle create such a powerful force in sightlines due to its distance. At the west gate of Preah Khan, an ancient tree set roots on the gateways, its menacing branches forming dreadlocks for the Bayon face statue. That was indeed an interesting shot.
It was nearing 5pm and we raced to Phnom Bakheng for my sundown shots. A small hill with some pyramid temple ruins, the entire premise was madness. The entire army of bus tourists congregated here as they would for the new year's countdown. I be(e)came... ...The Swarm. The sundown over Siem Reap itself was spectacular, especially when airplanes took off against the setting sun. My photos did not do any justice. The reward was just being able to witness this solar event of such magnificence and beauty.
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