Banteay Srei Temple
While in Siem Reap we visited Banteay Srei Temple which was built in 967. It's name means citadel of women or citadel of beauty, likely because of all of the intricate carvings of minor female deities that grace its red sandstone walls. The buildings were much smaller in scale than any of the other temples we saw, and therefore archaeologists were able to restore larger portions. There were many sections including libraries and a sanctuary guarded by statues of humans with animal heads. It was a fascinating place!
|Jack in a doorway (to give you an indication of size)|
|Ancient sanskrit writing|
Next we were off to my favorite temple ever...When I first heard about Angkor Wat, lo those many years ago, I had no idea there were other amazing temples a stone's throw (or rather a few miles through the jungle) away. In fact, I'd never heard of Bayon Temple. What a treausre!
|Look closely...Do you see the faces?|
Then I decided I wanted a picture of both of us at the top. So, heart racing, I began to scale the stairs myself. Either the people who designed them had teeny tiny feet, or the stairs had undergone some serious erosion through the years, or both because my giant American feet could only just fit on each step if they were completely sideways. I got to the top and had Aaron snap a picture from below.
I walked over to the other set of steps to exit and realized to my horror that the our guide climbing up with Caleb in her arms! What?! NOOO! Visions of his blond head bouncing down the hard stone flew through my mind. Is it appropriate to scream at a temple site? I tried waving my arms to discourage her, but they were already halfway up.
|Me reaching for Caleb|
I laid on my stomach and reached my arms down as far as I could, snatching him up as soon as I was able. What was she thinking?! And how on God's green earth were we getting down? I certainly wasn't going to let her hold him. Ever again.
|There we are at the top at the right...planning our descent.|
I tried descending on my own. Where the heck was Aaron?? (Apparently he was now behind the library taking the picture above.) I was starting to hyperventilate and my vision blurred from my tears. We were both going to die up here, or rather down below atop a heap of jumbled stones. Suddenly a small local man who had been watching our ordeal from below bounded up the steps on his impossibly tiny feet with the ease of a mountain goat. He held out his hands. Was I seriously going to hand my beautiful blond haired baby boy off to a complete stranger? Um. Yup. I watched the man turn outward and skip down the stairs with Caleb in tow. Just then, Aaron arrived to snap this great shot. Thanks, babe.
As quickly as possible, I made my own awkward descent, snatched Caleb into my arms for the second time that morning, thanking the kind stranger profusely.
One would think that at that point we would simply cut our losses and head home. Not the
What awaited us was nothing short of amazing. It was like something out of a story book or dream. After passing through a series of hallways with shrines and giant phalluses, we came to the most incredible place...
|Yup. It's a phallus alright. Why don't you touch it to be sure?|
Hundreds of giant faces (216 to be exact) were carved onto multiple towering temples. Each structure had four faces, each facing a different direction - north, south, east, west.
While at first I assumed they represented Buddha, given their slight smiles and serene expressions, our guide explained they also strongly represented the king of the time and were likely a combination of the king, Buddha, and the bodhisattva of compassion called Avalokitesvara or Lokesvara. Wow!
|They were everywhere!|
I was sad to go, but we'd had a great time. We spent our last night downtown. We rode a tuk tuk (a kind of carriage attached to the back of a motorcycle) into town and strolled around for a bit.
We decided to forgo the crocodile pizza and ate a place called Genevieve's instead. All in all, an amazing trip!
One last note...Parker lost a tooth on the van ride to the temple. Below is the letter he dictated to the tooth fairy. She still gave him a buck.