Cambodia: Bantaey Srei, the Woman Temple
About 16 kilometres from Siem Riep is Banteay Srei, called the “Woman Temple” because of some linguistic connection to a Sanskrit or Khmer word for woman. It was lovely, especially in the early to mid-morning. I did, however, arrive at the same time as three Korean tour buses.
Banteay Srei is strikingly different from Angkor Wat and Bayon. It doesn’t tower imposingly above you. It was built on a smaller scale and its carvings are in miniature. Delicate swirls of flowers surround Apsara dancers and stone monkeys perch on walls, watching visitors enter the temple.
The stone is rosy and in the early morning sunlight it glows.
Not only do the buildings glow, the doorposts have an intricate juxtaposition of lines and floral details. Don’t you just love minute architectural details?
If you go to the temples near Siem Riep, you may notice Buddhist monks; obviously, Cambodia is largely Buddhist and the temples attract pilgrims as well as tourists. Monks turn out to be pretty tech savvy for guys who are supposed to give up their material possessions; another traveler I met ran into a monk with a laptop smoking a cigarette. At least a camera makes sense.
One of the most difficult things about traveling in Cambodia is that there are so many street kids trying to sell stuff. It’s commonly known that they do not receive any of the money they make; it all goes back to whomever employs them. In Siem Riep, the kids go to school for half the day, either in the morning or the afternoon. There are so many students and so few teachers that they are not able to attend a full day of school.