A long lay in was on our schedule this morning but by 7am we were both starving so headed down for breakfast. It’s a great hotel but the breakfasts are pretty ordinary with pretty average Asian rice porridge and fried rice, steamed vegies, curried vegies or eggs to order and toast. We ordered two boiled eggs each and cooked a bit of toast and covered it in the vegemite, I’d bought in Thailand.
We then went to the pool and spent a bit of time catching up on blogs and emails before cooling off. The weather was a bit hotter today so it was a welcome relief from the heat. Whilst we were swimming a few french ladies came in and we discovered the hotel charges $5 if you just want to pop in and use the facilities which is not a bad option if you want to stay somewhere cheaper and use a pool every few days.
We returned to Le Plain de Coeur for a lunch of Parisian Bagette and coffee and soon it was time to meet Lucky and head off on today’s travels. Today’s travels were to the further temples which took about an hour to get to. It was a pleasant trip passing through the countryside, watching people go about their daily life. Today was a public holiday so many people were spending time with their families and every now and then we’d pass houses with giant boom boxes belting out tunes loud enough to be heard on the moon. Kids were playing all sorts of games like volleyball, soccer, badminton and a game they play with a large shuttlecock only they use their feet instead of raquettes. It was great seeing kids just being kids. We passed through rice farming areas and saw lots of cows and buffaloes eating the rice stubble.
Our first temple was Bantai Srei (the Lady Temple) and it was amazing firstly the different stone that this temple was constructed from and how ornate the carving were. The temple was also well preserved which almost seem it was still in use.It was definitely one of the most beautiful temples we’d seen so far. This was also a well organised temple with modern facilities, car and bus parking, information boards and good control of people passing through the temple so the temple didn’t feel over crowded.
Our next stop was Banteay Samrai Temple which is named after the village that supports it. It seems the whole village had turned out to try and sell us their TShirts, paintings, postcards and fans made of flax. The temple itself was interesting in that to gain access to the middle section we had to climb down some really steep stairs then up another set. There is a long paved avenue which leads up to the formal entrance with lions and Naga protecting the entrances. There were lots of ornate carved panels and beautiful lotus flower spires but the funniest thing was a piece of branch about four foot long, and no thicker than my arm propping the roof up.
We dodged the crowd getting out and soon we were on our way back to Lucky and on towards Preah Khan (Sacred Sword Temple). On the way we passed Grandfather Temple, Ta Som, Neak Prean Temples we also passed a lot of women cooking using huge steel bowls on homemade clay stoves, they seemed to have some sort of nut cooking maybe chestnuts?
Preah Khan was different in many ways to the other temples and we entered via the south entrance through across a bridge with giants holding a huge Naga on either side of the bridge and then on through a huge gate. At the temple it seemed like there were door ways upon door ways leading to the centre which was a stupa containing the ashes of the king’s grandfather. We met a tourist policeman who gave us a quick tour and he pointed out how giant trees had formed over parts of the temple. He also told us how the king had devised the temple with the kings entrance to the East with a grand entrance, a dancing hall with room for one thousand asparan dancing girls, and huge doorways leading to the centre of the temple. All other entrances had small doorways so that when his subjects entered they had to bow to the king nothing like enforcer reverence.
There was also a two story structure with round pillars(the only one of its kind in all the Angkor structures) which held the sacred sword. We thanked the policeman for his help and being thankful for his help generously gave him a small token of our appreciation after he hinted it would be kind to do so. That said he gave us some interesting insights into the temple and was very passionate about it so well worth the dollar we paid.
We made our way out via the west entrance showing our bums to the king(I wonder if he thought of that) and out past another grand entrance.
Our trip back took us past Bayan Temple and Angkor Wat and as it was a public holiday there were hundreds of locals all out enjoying picnics, with kids playing while families chatted and laughed, almost looked like Rockingham Foreshore.
Not far on from Angkor Wat our Tuk Tuk started making sounds that I knew too well and I noticed Lucky checking the fuel switch was on reserve and a few moments later we slowly bumped to a halt right outside a bike repair and fuel seller in the middle of the bush. They don’t call him Lucky for nothing. A liter of fuel and we were back on our way as an Asian orange sun set over the forest.
Back at the Viva Hotel we said our goodbyes with Mr Lucky and thanked him for transporting us safely around the last three days and also giving us some seasoned advice on the right temples and order to do temples in. If you are going to Angkor Wat in the future and would like a friendly driver Mr Lucky may be your man his contact details are email@example.com. He is a lovely man who works very hard for the little money he gets so deserves a break.
We caught up again with Aaron and Karen and Aaron took us to his favourite pizza shop in the whole of Siem Reap (if not Cambodia). We all enjoyed pizza whilst being served by the funniest waitress who was highly efficient to the point of being blunt but a little light on the personality department, so a little quirky.
Soon it was time to part company with Aaron and Karen and we wished them well for their further travels in Cambodia as they are heading to Phnom Penh while we head off to Bad Dambang, maybe we’ll catch up with them again before they return home.
The Two Dollar Tuk Tuk driver tried to change his name to the Three Dollar Tuk Tuk but it was not to be and he begrudgingly dropped us off at our hotel where we packed our bags in preparation for tomorrow’s early departure.