Day 3 in Cambodia.
Was feeling super hungover after my drinking binge the night before, but luckily I didn’t have a headache. Went to get a hearty English breakfast in my guesthouse first to stabilize my stomach. Also to try to feel more alive… bleah.
Banteay Srei or Banteay Srey (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបន្ទាយស្រី) is a 10th century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in the area of Angkor in Cambodia.
Banteay Srei is a small temple which is known for its intricate carvings. The carvings in this temple are all very meticulously done, so it’s all very pretty. Because of that it is fairly popular and there are throngs of tourists everyday:
Nice small temple but too many people to be truly enjoyable.
Next, headed to Kbal Spean:
Kbal Spean (Khmer: ក្បាលស្ពាន) (“Bridge Head”) is an Angkorian era archaeological site on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hillsto the northeast of Angkor in Siem Reap District, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.
Kbal Spean is located after a 1.5km hike to the top, which was hell of a struggle when you are hungover. Kbal Spean is also known as the River of a Thousand Lingas, which sounds pretty cool and Oriental, until you realise that lingas are actually the phallic symbol for the Hindu god Shiva. Somehow River of a Thousand Penises just doesn’t sound as nice.
Holes in the bridge
Ancient Angkorians carved these sacred symbols into the river because the water that flows down this river would eventually be carried to the main Angkor temples. The fact that the water runs over these symbols made the water sacred, so water that was used at the Angkor temple sites were ‘blessed’, so to speak.
I found that information quite interesting because Kbal Spean is pretty far from the main temples, and the hike up to the top of the waterfall is filled with giant rocks and undergrowth. To go to all these trouble – finding the source of their water, carving sacred symbols into an untamed riverbed – just to ensure that their water is blessed? They are seriously dedicated worshippers.
Next, after lunch at a place at the bottom of Kbal Spean, I headed to the Landmine Museum.
“The landmine is eternally prepared to take victims. It is the perfect soldier.” – chilling.
The Landmine Museum was opened by a former child soldier who set thousands of mines during the civil war period. After the war he assisted in their removal because he had so much experience setting mines.
I found this description to be very affecting and sad.
There were other anecdotes printed as well, including one where he explained that he almost killed his uncle who was fighting on the opposite side of the war with him.
Quite an informative tour. Do you know that landmines were designed to maim, and not kill any soldier that detonate it? It was because they figured that an injured soldier would cost his team more resources and more trouble than a dead comrade. You could just leave a dead soldier behind. But a soldier who lost a leg was different – he could survive, so you can’t do something as callous as leaving him behind to die, and you have to take him along. I’m guessing that the unit won’t be able to travel as fast with an injured soldier as well.
Spot the explosive devices!
Last stop of the day: Pre Rup
Pre Rup (Khmer: ប្រាសាទប្រែរូប) is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman and dedicated in 961 or early 962. It is a temple mountain of combined brick, laterite and sandstone construction.
And that’s the last temple I visited in Siem Reap.