|Our second day at Ankor Wat we visited 2 more temples. The first was called Banteay Srei or Citadel of Women, so called because it is small but has beautiful bas relief carvings and pinkish sandstone. It was built in 967-1000 AD by Hindu priests and was dedicated to Shiva. Over the lintels are elaborate bas relief carvings telling Hindu stories. In one, Indra, the god of rain, sits on his 3 headed elephant and make the rain that falls over the forest.
After an early visit to Bantaey Srei we drove 1 ½ hours through the countryside, passing many villages and rice fields. We saw bullocks pulling carts and motor scooters carrying all manner of things including a whole pig.
We finally reached our last temple. Beng Mealea, which has only been open to the public since 2008. They first had to clear the land mines. It is completely unreconstructed and there is very little there to see - a jumble of fallen rocks, some galleries intact. But they know from the art that it was built by King Suriyavarman II who built Angkor Wat. I didn’t think it was worth the 3 hour round trip ride.
We were free after a late lunch. Since it was New Year’s Eve, we decided to have dinner and explore the downtown which we had not seen. We walked around the night market, full of the usual tourist stuff, not very interesting, and through some of the narrow streets with lots of restaurants and noisy bands. By the time we left around 9 pm, the streets had been cut off from traffic and were filling up with young people, both locals and tourists. It felt like Siem Reap’s version of Times Square.
We old fogeys went back to our hotel and watched Captain America on HBO until the fireworks went off at midnight. When we woke up on New Year’s Day. CNN was showing the fireworks in London. We learned that the US Senate was working on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.