After breakfast at the hotel, we were picked up by our driver and the travel guide for our next adventure in the Cambodian countryside,
The first stop was about 65 km from Siem Reap at Beng Mealea temple. "Beng Mealea is a spectacular sight to behold. It's one of the most mysterious temples at Angkor, as nature has well and truly run riot. Built to the same floor plan as Angkor Wat, exploring this titanic of temples is Angkor's ultimate Indiana Jones experience. Built in the 12th century under Suryavarman II (r 1112-52), Beng Mealea is enclosed by a massive moat measuring 1.2km by 900m, much of which has dried up today. (lonely planet)
Although most of the world didn't hear about this temple until after it was "discovered" in 1990, the Khmer Rouge used it during the war in the 70s. As we were walking along the path to the temple, we saw a sign telling about the government clearing 600+ land mines and hundreds of un-exploded ordinance. Our guide related that his children, now teenagers, were always told to leave "shiny objects" they might find in fields or jungle, alone. Even now, there are lots of land mines and ordinance that shows up around Cambodia. (Cambodia Landmine Facts)
But back to the temple. Until about 10 years ago not many people made it our to Beng Mealea because the roads were almost non-existent. Now it is popular because it has not been fully reclaimed from the jungle. We thought Ta Promh was such a temple, but this one is much more so. As the roots of the trees expand, they force the walls apart. Damage is also done when the trees fall.
We then went to Banteay Srei, a 10th-century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. "Originally called Tribhuvanamahesvara, the name Banteay Srei (or Banteay Srey) is a modern one, meaning "citadel of the women" or, "citadel of beauty"...When Banteay Srei was first rediscovered it was thought to date back to the 13th or 14th century due to its refined carvings. However, inscriptions later found at the site place its consecration very precisely on 22nd of April, 967 A.D. It is the only major temple not to be built by a King. The construction of pink sandstone is attributed to Yajnavaraha, a courtier and King's counselor. The temple was expanded and further built upon in later years and remained in use until at least the 14th century." (more info)
Once back at the hotel, we again rested and then decided to eat at one of the nearby restaurants. "Nearby" is relative, since the location of the hotel is not in a pedestrian-friendly area. There are some sidewalks, but for short distances and often blocked by cars and tuk-tuks. To go a few hundred yards, meant we had to walk in the road part of the time.
We found a nice restaurant, recommended by our guide. We had an early dinner and then stopped at a coffee shop on the way back to the hotel. As usual, Ray had to have a sweet with his coffee.