day one hundred and twenty-six: february 2, 2016: lesser known temples

Today we decided to head out with Vannak again, but this time in an air conditioned car since we were headed a little bit further away. First stop, Beoung Mealea. Built in the early 12th century and much closer to the rock quarry where the sand stone for most of the temples in the area were cut from, the stones of Beoung Mealea are much larger in size. At the entrance way is the most complete Naga carving in the area, although it is only a five headed Naga (remember, always in odd numbers). 

The government has chosen to leave this temple the way it was found, so little to no restoration has occurred. This made it our favorite temple to visit. You are also allowed to climb around the ruins freely which made it a lot more fun and you could really see how the power of nature had taken over such an ancient structure. We were also able to avoid the standard path that all the other tourists were following.

Roots had grown into the cracks between stones slowly moving stones apart and in some cases even cracking stones.

Below was our favorite area filled with intersecting roots from the parasite trees that were growing on top of the temple. At the top right you can see there is a viewing platform up above if you followed the standard path, but Vannak took us a separate way and we were down in the ruins instead of above. We had a lot of fun climbing over large stones and thru small windows and openings and even climbing up some of the roots.

There was one space that seemed a little bit sketchy. Below you can see a root growing thru what was once a roof and still holding a few stones. Going underneath this giant root you couldn't help but move quickly, hoping that the stones weren't going to suddenly give way.

Our next stop was Banteay Srei. If you were impressed by the carvings at Angkor Wat, the ones here were simply mind blowing. The depth and detail were just insane so excuse the large number of photos. Banteay Srei is a much older temple than Angkor Wat and when it was discovered it had been almost completely fallen due to overgrowth of trees. Since this temple is much smaller in stature, most of the stones were not damaged badly and have since been restored. The stone is also a different type of sandstone giving it a pinkish hue.

In the entryways of the temple complex writings are etched into the doorways. 

You can see from the closeups below how detailed and how three dimensional the carvings are.

As we exited Banteay Srei out the back exit, there was a group of land mine victims playing music. We slowed down the pace and sat and listened to them play for a few songs. Again, one of the men was playing a leaf as a musical instrument. Pretty cool.

Our last stop was Prae Roup. Not a ton of photos as the temple wasn't nearly as impressive as Banteay Srei, but still made for a good visit.

day one hundred and twenty-seven: february 3, 2016

We could have used our three day pass and visited more lesser known temples today, but instead we decided to sleep in and do some research for our future travels. After a late morning we headed to the airport for our flight to Phnom Penh.