Visited December 2011
Day 3: Banteay Kdei, Banteay Srei and Kulen National Park
Rise and shine to a brand new day as Banteay was our first stop. Known as ‘A Cidadel of Chambers’, the temple was primarily used by Buddhist monks. When we visited, is was mainly in shambles, and was undergoing restoration.
Our next stop was the hindu temple, Banteay Srei, also known as the ‘Jewel Temple’ because of its red sandstone. Significantly different from the rest of the temples, the architecture and intricate carvings were really a sight to behold. But, as it was getting crowded yet again, we did not stay long, and moved off to our next destination further up north.
49km from Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen National Park is home to Phnom Kulen and its waterfalls. To get to the waterfall, I had to navigate myself through steep and wet tracks, whilst carrying my camera bag. Sometimes, certain steps were even missing! It did not help that the soles of my shoes were not of a good grip, and hence I was afraid many times that I would slip and fall off the cliffs. Thankfully the guide and my partner were very helpful and patient with me, as I finally reached the majestic waterfall.
There was a little swing just on the right hand side of the picture. It made for a very lovely photo-taking scene. But to snap a picture, you had to pay a little fee to the lady who was looking over the place. So it’s best if you could get a waterproof camera, as the falls do create lots of splashing water that made us really concern for the safety of our DSLRs.
Another interesting site of the area was the River of 1000 Lingas. On the river bed of Stung Kbal Spean River, a series of stone motifs were carved onto the river bed. It is said that the river is sacred, for many kings have bathed themselves in it to cleanse themselves of diseases and ill omens.
In the evening, we made our way back towards Siem Reap, and headed up to Bakheng Hill for the famous sunset scene. It is a 30 minute hike up the hill, and for those who are not keen to climb, there are elephant rides available. During my trek up, we noticed that the place was crowded with tourists. Or maybe I meant overflowing with tourists. And because it was so filled with people, Bakheng temple has become one of the most threatened monuments of Angkor. Perhaps more should be done to limit the number of people allowed up the temple per day.
Due to the crowd, it was pretty hard to get a good spot with many people abound. Plus, one has to hope for good weather. Unfortunately when we were there, it was a cloudy day, and the best we could was just the picture above. Nonetheless, we have nothing to complain, as we enjoyed each other’s company and the sunset while it lasts.
Tip: Do bring a little torchlight with you. After the sun has set, the trek back down can be pretty dark, so the little light that you have will come in helpful.
At night, we went to a restaurant recommended by our guide, Touich Restaurant. Located off the beaten track, I really have no idea where it is located, as a transfer was provided for us. With candlelight as our main light source, the ambiance was pretty romantic, and they do provide mosquito coils to repel the unwanted bites. But as secluded and dark as it was, the food was extremely delicious! I remembered that the grilled chicken was awesome.