Our second day in Siem Reap started early. The driver picked us up at 6:30AM as we agreed the day before and we asked him to take us to somewhere the locals eat for breakfast.

We ate breakfast at a place locals frequent and they served us the strongest coffee, which they plant, grind and brew themselves.

We ate breakfast at a place locals frequent and they served us the strongest coffee, which they plant, harvest, grind and brew themselves.

After eating, we started our day. First order of business was to get our Angkor pass from the main ticket sales booth of Angkor Wat. There are 3 kinds of passes:

  • 1-day pass – USD20
  • 3-day pass – USD40
  • 1-week pass – USD60

We purchased the 3-day pass since we were going to be touring for 2 days.

three day passes cost USD 40

three day passes cost USD 40

Today’s itinerary covered parts of the grand circuit (Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup) and also included the nearby Banteay Samre and the far off temple of Banteay Srei and a short hike uphill to Kbal Spean.

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After securing our Angkor pass, we proceeded to Preah Khan. Getting to Preah Khan early, meant we had the place almost to ourselves. (Of course, I find out the following day that this was not really the case. More tourists just take the small circuit.)

After Preah Khan, our next stop is Neak Pean. Before you see the main temple of Neak Pean, you have to walk a long boarded walkway, surrounded by trees and mangroves. I suppose during the wet season this is surrounded by deep water, but right now, parts of it is submerged in very shallow water.

The walkway to Neak Pean

The walkway to Neak Pean

When we got to Neak Pean, we saw the main temple at the very center in an excavation of about 4-5 feet deep surrounded by walls.

The main temple of Neak Pean

The main temple of Neak Pean

This is supposed to be the pond surrounding the main temple, but since the rains haven’t really started yet, just like the surrounding forest, it’s just grass surrounding the temple.

The main structure of the entrance way of Ta Som has the shape of 4 heads similar to what we would later see in Bayon

The main structure of the entrance way of Ta Som has the shape of 4 heads similar to what we would later see in Bayon

Ta Som is another smaller temple near Neak Pean. The main structure of the entrance way has the shape of 4 heads similar to what we would later see in Bayon.

The opposite entrance of the temple at the far end is encroached in a huge strangler fig that makes it look like the tree grew on the temple’s entrance. At this entrance, we also saw a lot of vendors selling souvenirs and we got our first taste of the very persistent children who sell maps, bracelets, books and the like.

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East Mebon, our fourth stop for the day is a bigger complex. Our driver said that East Mebon used to be surrounded by water but now is only surrounded by dry ground.

It has two enclosing walls and three tiers. According to wikipedia, the building materials used were sandstone, brick, laterite and stucco.

From East Mebon, we traveled about an hour get to our next destination, Kbal Spean. Kbal Spean is a site found on the Kulen Hills located about 25km from the main Angkor temples.

To get to the site, we took a 40-minute hike up the hill til we saw the riverbed. On the actual riverbed and banks are carvings.

After our hike at Kbal Spean and a late lunch, we were off to Banteay Srei. Banteay Srei is a temple about 25km from the main Angkor group of temples, a few minutes away from Kbal Spean.

The most intricate of carvings can be found on Banteay Srei

The most intricate of carvings can be found on Banteay Srei

This temple, I think, showed the most intricate of carvings compared to all the temples we visited in Angkor Wat. It looks like something that could’ve been done in wood and I had to remind myself that this was done in stone.

The temple also looked smaller than the other temples in scale, although I forgot to ask why that is. It’s a very interesting place and my highlight for this day.

From Banteay Srei, on our way back to the main temples of Angkor, we stopped by Banteay Samre. This temple showed similar style carvings as Banteay Srei although the type of stone used was quite different. The scale, too, was different, definitely appearing larger than Banteay Srei.

shadow play

Our last stop for the day is Pre Rup, where we were supposed to catch the sunset–something that this temple is famous for.

However, our visit was not the best time for it apparently. We saw nothing but clouds and a teeny tiny hint of pink in the sky. It was a bit of a let down. Our second day in Siem Reap also happened to be my birthday and I was hoping for a good one to close the end of the day and a start of a new year for me. But, like anything great, you can’t really force it. Best try our luck tomorrow.

Nothing but clouds. Where's my pink sky?

Nothing but clouds. Where’s my pink sky?

(This is another retro post. This trip took place July 29 – August 2, 2012.)

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This is a 6-parter. Check out the other parts at the links below:

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