Temple run, Templed out, Temple overload, Temple pass; too much temples to explore and so little time. This templed out edition is part of a three-day love affair with Khmer temples in Siem Reap. After exploring some of the major temples in three days, I must say that Siem Reap is much more than the Angkor Wat.
We availed the three-day temple tours plus floating village tour from the Happy Guesthouse and our very warm and friendly Khmer guide, Nga, was the captain of our tuk tuk in those days. Right after our Kampong Phluk’s Floating Village and Forest
misadventures experience, we checked
out some temples nearby. Rolous is a Cambodian small town around 13 km. from
downtown Siem Reap. The Rolous group of temples includes some of the earliest
Khmer structures that is composed of three main temples; Bakong, Lolei, and
We secured an Angkor Temple Pass from APSARA (Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap) with the assistance from our guide, Nga. The Temple Pass served as our ticket to almost all the major temples around Siem Reap. They have 1-day pass ($20), 3-day pass ($40) and a 7-day pass ($60).
And because we’ll be having a three-day tour, we availed the 3-day pass. A quick mug shot and our passes were released in no time. Nga, our guide, constantly checked our passes before we leave or arrive in any temple destination.
Still drenched from our Tonle Sap Lake fiasco, we headed to the Lolei Temple. A 9th century Hindu temple, the structure is made up of four brick temple towers that was dedicated by King Yasovarman to his grandfather, grandmother, father and mother. The taller towers are for his grandparents and the shorter ones are for his parents. A monastery is presently occupying the temple’s premises.
We were the only ones at the site that time (which gave us ample time to discover it). We just wandered around the area and check out the relics of what used to be a great temple. Signs of wear and tear can be seen from it and improvements are being done to restore it.
It was almost dark when we left the Lolei temple and students (dragging their bicycles as they walk) coming home from school dominated the roads.
Preah Ko Temple
Preah Ko means ‘The Sacred Bull’ in Khmer language and is the first temple built in Rolous. The three structures represent the white bull (Nandi), a servant of Shiva.
Apart from the great structure, what I observed were the locals (especially children) who were playing and resting around the area. Imagine how cool would that be having this great temple as a huge play area for the kids. Also, there are some kids who were selling shawls, postcards and other knickknacks from the locale. They are so persistent in persuading the tourists on buying their items. We befriended them instead of pushing them away.
Bakong is the first stepped pyramid (temple mountain) constructed by the Khmer empire. It is somewhat similar to the Borobudur temple in Java, Indonesia and the pyramid itself has five levels. Huge stone structures of lions and elephants surround the central pyramid.
Temples have strict temple hours but we're quite lucky for they allowed us to enter this huge temple minutes before its closing time (the guards are Pacquiao fans *winks*). There’s a huge pathway that is so grand and some children flocked us to chitchat a bit. The usual ‘Where are you from?’ greeting is typical. Some were selling souvenir items but there’s this one girl who captivated us with her antics. She was so playful that she forgot that she was selling some bananas.
She went on with stories about her life. She speaks good English and attributed it to her English teacher. I was so fascinated with her stories and later on learned that they go to school from Mondays to Saturdays (only a day off). She toured us around with her little brother in tow and also asked us to teach her how to use our cameras (she even took a photo of me inside the temple).
|She insisted on taking a photo of me :)|
We’re still with her as we went out of the temple. Apparently, her mother is a peddler who’s selling some local food stuff outside the temple. With her daughter as the interpreter, we got to know more about the mother while gobbling on some of her foodstuff.
Although we wanted to stay some more and chat with this cute family, it was already dark. So we said our goodbyes and hugged each other and wished we’d see each other sometime, somehow.
It’s good to have a guidebook or research beforehand when you travel. It’s also nice to have a tour guide explaining to you the historical significance of a certain spot. But it’s a different and fresh way to be accompanied by a local kid as you go around your tour. Definitely, you’d experience a different perspective on what you could readily get from a book or the internet. Those precious moments with the kids were one of our fondest memories in Siem Reap.
I’m bad with names but I can totally recall someone from his/her face. It’s funny that for so many times I’m stunned for a few seconds recalling someone that I met but can’t put a name to that face. The point is, I forgot the name of this young girl but I can paint a picture of her anytime. Her passion to learn new things is exceptional. She may not have travelled the world but the world comes to her. I’ll go back to this place and look for this girl. I know I can find her and spend more time with her. It will happen. I know.