Although exhausted from the day before I had bought a two day pass and I intended to use it. Besides, I was determined to see Preah Khan.
This time I left at 8.30am, a more reasonable hour, and headed for the “grand circuit”. No guide today; just me and a tuk-tuk driver.
The first and best stop was Preah Khan, an extraordinary spot where the full meaning of “jungle kingdom” became evident. Stretching over 50 hectares, Preah Khan was an ancient city of 100,000 people and included a monastery and a buddhist university. There weren’t even that many other tourists. It was pure enchantment
The interior was not as rich in sculpture as the temples but there were still some fine examples..
I spent some time just outside listening to the symphony of bird cries emanating from the giant trees devouring the crumbling stones.
Affiliated with Preah Khom, Neak Pean is a temple in the middle of an artificial lake, accessed via walkway over a real lake.
Dedicated to the Kings’ ancestors, tiny Ta Som is also a striking contest between stone and jungle.
It’s from the 10th century. Khmer builders learned a lot over the successive centuries!
Also dating from the 10th century and constructed of brick, laterite and sandstone, Pre Rup was a Hindu temple. No, I did not climb up.
I was back at the hotel at 12:30. I ate, took a rest and then headed down to the river for another festival. It is the famous Water festival, which not only celebrate the full moon of early November but also celebrates the water that has brought such fertility to Cambodia. It’s also a celebration of Cambodia’s ancient victory over the Cham empire.
The whole town turned out. The big event was the boat race where teams from all over the region row frantically down the narrow river.
Everybody was selling food of one sort or another.
I’m guessing caterpillars which I did not try. I did try the spicy beetles though! At least, that’s what I think they were. Even though my stomach had been dicey the last few days, who can pass up a tasty beetle?
There were people strolling and munching, hyper-excited kids running around like little maniacs and the thump thump thump of electro music from a dance party across the river. As soon as night fell, the fireworks started.
As soon as the fireworks ended, the rain poured down. Monsoon hadn’t yet ended.