We are….But that didn’t stop us from booking a 6 am tuk-tuk yesterday to take us to two more temples. I think our hotel thought we were crazy. “But you will miss breakfast,” they said when we booked our tuk-tuk. “But we will avoid the crowds,” I said. “But 6 am is really early,” Robert said. Ultimately, the hotel decided I wore the pants in the family (can you believe it took them 2 weeks to realize this) and booked the tuk-tuk for 6 am. (Robert wants everyone to know that he just lets me think that I wear the pants…..).
Anyway, away we went at the god-awful time of 6 am for our hour plus ride to Banteay Srei. I’m pretty sure our tuk-tuk driver was sick or hung over or just plain tired. He certainly wasn’t bright eyed and bushy tailed. But, he was friendly enough. We were one of the few tuk-tuks on the road and, I have to say, the air was downright chilly at that time of day. What a pleasant change!
Banteay Srei is a 10th century Hindu temple. It is build of red sandstone and intricately carved. And, it just might be one of my favorite temples.
The carvings are so intricate that some people call it the Lady Temple (the name Banteay Srei translates to “Citadel of the Women”) on the theory that men’s hands are too big to make such delicate carvings. I doubt that is true (come on, have you seen Trump’s tiny little hands?), but the carvings are impressive (all the more so when you think about the fact that they were made in the 900’s and have withstood wind, sun, rain, neglect, and wars in the interim).
Banteay Srei is also the only temple in Angkor that was not built by a king — it was built by one or two courtiers or counselors (depending on what you read). Some have hypothesized that might explain the small size of the temple.
Anyway, we arrived at Banteay Srei shortly after 7 and took our time walking through the exhibits to the ticket checker. When we got to the temple, we realized there were only three other tourists there. How glorious!
We left Banteay Srei about 8:30, just as more tourists were starting to arrive. And, as we drove back towards Siem Reap, we saw numerous tourist buses headed to Banteay Srei. I kept pointing them out to Robert over and over, but he still won’t admit that I was right to book a 6 am tuk-tuk!
Our next stop was Banteay Samre. This is another Hindu temple. If the internet is to be believed, nobody knows for sure when this one was built, but the suspicion is that it was built in the 12th century.
This temple was also one of the smaller temples we visited and felt very closed-in. There was a wall around the buildings and they were so close to each other it sometimes felt like you could step directly from one building to the next.
That said, it was quite beautiful and there were some very nice carvings.
And, once again, almost nobody else was there — just a small Japanese tourist group and they left long before we did so at the end of our tour we were actually the only tourists at the temple.
We were back to our hotel by 11. As we walked in, the staff all laughed at us — “you left at 6 am,” they said. “Yep, and we avoided all the tourists,” I said. “I need a nap,” Robert said.