KPC-SGN Day 2: Banteay Srei - The Citadel of Women

It was a quiet night, I really had a good sleep without dream and to wake up early in 7 in the morning made me feel perfect. As we booked the Grand Angkor Tour for today, I rushed to bath myself and went down to have breakfast in restaurant of the guest house. As I met up with a net friend for dinner at Red Piano Restaurant last night, he was highly recommending me to try the Khmer food - Beef Lok Lak. I ended up ordered beef lok lak as my breakfast :). Taste? Fried beef slices with onions with a special dipping sauce -> salty.

Makara was our driver for the second day too. So, our first stop was Banteay Srei - The Citadel of Women. Banteay Srei was a 10th century Khmer temple decicated to the Hindu god Shiva and was originally called "Tribhuvanamahesvara" (Great Lord of the Threefold World). It was built largely of red sandstone with many decorative carvings on it's wall and that was what making it so distinctive among all the other Angkor's temples. That really makes it so popular among the tourists these days especially for photographers who wanted to snap the best shot out of Banteay Srei - Sun rise. That was said to be one of the best picture you are able to get at Angkor ruins. The reflection of Banteay Srei on the pool of water by the temple will turn to slight pink with the gentle light when sun rises up from the horizon. Well, we did not manage to arrive as early as 6am for sun rise. No luck for us to have seen such an amazing view.

First Sight on Banteay Srei:

Beautiful wall carvings:

By the way, Banteay Srei was not a big temple though, 1 hour is definitely enough for this place. On our way back to Angkor ruins from Banteay Srei, Makara was hard selling one of their local candies - Palm Sugar to us. According to him, local cambodians used to have afternoon tea together with the Palm Sugar as dessert. So one seep of coffee and one bite of palm sugar makes a perfect Cambodian high tea! So what exactly is palm sugar?

A Palm Tree:

It was actually made of palm juice, which was collected fresh from a palm tree and cook under mild fire to make the water evaporated left with a thickhen liquid in gel form. The gel was then put into mold made of palm leaves in a round shape and left to cool down to crystalize and form a round shape kind of rock sugar. It tasted a bit like our Brown Sugar (Gula Melaka) but not as sweet as that.

Fresh Palm Juice:

End product being wrapped up into a roll with dried palm leaves. Each roll is containing 10 pieces of candies.

To let us taste the fresh juice from the palm tree, Makara stopped us at one of the local ministry's house where one of his friends was working at. He climbed up one of the palm trees in the garden and show us how locals collect the fresh palm juice from the branches. He was really quick and I was guessing he used to do that a lot before he came to city to work as a driver. You are just so Cool Mr. Makara :p... The palm juice was served fresh to us for free of charge. It tasted so fresh and sweet like sugar cane. According to Makara, his friend had business with him so these drinks were on her treat as to thanks Makara for bringing her business. Wow, I felt so lucky to be invited as a special guest here in a ministry's house. Our Grand Angkor tour continued with the places as described below.

Pre Rup, it was said to be a temple to hold funeral ceremony for the royals during Angkor empire.

Angkor view from the peak of Pre Rup temple.

East Mebon:

Some local kids loitering around the East Mebon ruin. I was so surprised to find out that they know lots of foreign languages - japs, viets, chinese and malay! I really had fun with those kids and one even played tic tac toe with me which I lost in the end =.= . Sigh, I always know that I am lousy in mind/strategic games. You will not be able to truely understand the real Cambodian culture and living until you really spend time with the locals. I really would like to spend more time with those kids there but due to tight tour schedule I had to leave within half an hour time. But the 30 minutes we spent together was enough to re-educate me the meaning of life and how simple we could be. I would not want to explain much here about my feeling here and would rather compose another post about my feelings towards these people.

Neak Pean - The legendary pool said with magical water that can heal all kind of diseases:

Preah Khan, the building was streching some 250-300 metres right through the other end with a door every 3-5 metres. The center part of the building was collapsing and we had to route to the right hand side of the building to get pass the fallen stone blocks. It was so dark at the middle part of the building and you are advised to go in a group of 2 at least. It was kinda creepy inside it especialy when there were not many people around. Well, right from my heart that I know I don't really like this place.

Tree was chopped to prevent it from further damaging the ruin.

We ended our tour ahead of the scheduled time as we did not really spend much time to look at those ruins in detail. Well I guess that was because we seen too much of falling stones in Angkor ruins, so our eyes got a bit tired with them. As everyone was too tired to continue with sunset at Angkor Wat, so Makara drove us to Central Market backed at Siem Reap town on our request. Central Market was a market that selling local products for tourists as souvenirs. The prices of items being sold there were marked up as tourist's price - expensive! Well, it was not a big market though. So we just spent like 30 minutes to walk around the market without buying anything. It was already 6 in the evening, so Makara sent us back to guest house and that ended our second day tour.

While the ladies decided to bath before dinner, I was walking with a mate to the night market. The night market was just right opposite the junction off our guest house, 2 minutes walk. It was not a big market but rather small and most of the people there were locals. My stomach was growling of hunger as I took only light lunch - fried noodles. So when I saw the grilled chicken in the night market, my mouth couldn't stop watering :). Yea, without thinking too much on whether the food was good for my stomach, I quickly grab of of it and pay the store owner - 1USD. Wow! That was so damn cheap! Half chicken costs only 1 USD! The taste of the grilled chicken was not as good as those I have tasted before but I couldn't complain much as it was so cheap and it really filled my stomach FULL. So nothing in this world would be better than that.

Cambodian Dessert:

After dinner, we walked to the pub street into the Temple Restaurant for it's free Aspara Dancing Show - traditional Khmer Dancing. Well, I don't really into dancing art. So it was more like a dancing show to me and I was enjoying something else there - Angkor beer. Hahaha, I am not a heavy drinker but as beer was kinda cheap there so I do the western way to clear away my heatiness (after exposing myself to long hours "sun bath" for 2 days) with lots of beer in my stomach :).

A wonderful day!