We begin to visit Prasat Kravan: the five brick towers were built for Hindu worship in 921 and are notable for the bas-reliefs cut into the bricks on the interior walls. A massive Buddhist temple dating from the second half of the 12th century, Banteay Kdei is surrounded by four concentric walls, the outer walls measuring 500 by 700 meters. Srah Srang: a basin opposite of Banteay Kdei measuring 800 by 400 meters with a tiny island in the middle where only the stone base remains of what was once a wooden temple.
We visit Ta Prohm “Tomb Raider” fame. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.
Then we move to Ta Keo: built by Jayavarman V who ruled from 968 to 1001, it was the first Angkorian monument built entirely of sandstone and was dedicated to Shiva. The summit of the central tower is 50 meters high and is surrounded by four lower towers. Thommanon: temple which mirrors Chau Say Tevoda (just to the north), as it was built around the same time and has a similar plan. It is also dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Chaosay Tevorda: built during the second quarter of the 12th century opposite of Thommanon, it was dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu.
We head further out through rural countryside to the small but beautiful temple of Banteay Srei. This temple is largely built of pink sandstone, a harder rock that can be more elaborately carved and better survives the rigors of time. This is an opportunity to capture some good photographs of the clear and detailed carvings. Continue to Banteay Samre: Its rose-colored sandstone walls are decorated with carvings and bas-reliefs, which are among the most accomplished Angkor has to offer.
Dinner with Apsara Dance show at local restaurant.
For those travelers thirsting for cultural highlights of Cambodia, No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional Khmer dance performance, often referred to as “Apsara Dance “after one of the most popular Classical dance pieces. Traditional Khmer dance better described as “dance-drama”in that the dances are not merely dance but also meant to convey a story or message.