Around Battambang – Three Temples and a Train, Cambodia

Our second day in Battambang we decided to hire a scooter to explore some of the outer around Battambang regions.

1. Killing caves of Phnom Sampeau

After arriving at Phnom Sampeau hill we first visited the killing caves, the killing caves was a natural cave with skylight opening that was used by the Khmer Rouge to toss victims through the skylight to their death.  Inside the cave are glass cased memorials of skulls and bones.

2. Wat Phnom Sapeau

We continued up the Phnom Sampeau hill and reached Wat Phnom Sapeau. The surrounds of Wat Phnom Sapeau is home to a bunch of macaques monkeys, which at the time were being fed by monks, this presented some good photo opportunities.

3. Wat Banan

From Wat Phnom Sapeau we headed to Wat Banan which was an ancient temple situated on a hill near the Sangker River. Wat Banan has a five tower design similar to Angkor Wat, as well some well preserved stone carvings.

4. Bamboo Train

One of the more enjoyable experiences was the bamboo train. The bamboo train is a rudimentary train consisting of no more than two axels, a metal base lined with bamboo and an small engine. All components could be lifted with two persons, though the axels which they were lifting individually were extremely heavy. As it is a single track, the protocol for two trains going in opposite directions, meeting is for the least passengers and cargo to disembark and disassemble to allow the other train to parse.

5. Wat Phnom Ek

A ruined eleventh century temple with some well preserved stone carvings. Nearby is a newly built temple and sitting Buddha statue.

Phnom Bakheng (Hill Temple), Angkor, Cambodia

Phnom Bakheng a Hindu temple is situated on a hill offering view of the entire Angkor complex. Angkor Wat can just be seen in the distance.

Extremely popular during sunset, we didn’t see what the fuss was all about.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia – the largest religious monument in the world

We arrived in Siem Reap late in the evening, and had an early night ready for a day of exploring the Angkor Wat temples. We stayed at the lovely Angkor Secret Garden Hotel, where we also hired bikes for $2 a day. Angkor Wat is roughly 7km North of Siem Reap and took us about forty minutes to cycle there one way. At the entrance, we purchased a three-day ticket and headed towards the beautiful Angkor Wat, which was met first once inside the complex.

It was unexpected how large the complex was, particularly the outer surrounding moat, it was also unexpected how many people were there. We wandered to the north-side of the temple, trying to keep away from the tourists entering from the central main entrance. We explored the north flanking library and walked past the water lily filled Reflecting Pond towards the entrance.

We entered the temple’s first level, which present us with a cruciform shaped cloister, known as the ‘Hall of a Thousand Gods’.  We explored the inner libraries which were surrounded by lush green grass. We climbed higher into the second level, which featured stone window pillars surrounding the inner gallery called the Bakan. These stone pillars, look like they have been carved on a lathe, and are supposed to mimic wood, which I totally agreed they did.

There was a long queue snaking around the edge of the Bakan for entrance to the inner gallery, after a little under an hour, we reached the eastern stairs. We climbed the steep sloped stairs, which  represent the ‘difficulty of ascending to the kingdom of the gods’. At the top were beautiful views of the jungle that surrounded Angkor Wat’s perimeter, right in the centre was the Angkor Wat central spire.

Back on the first level we navigated the outer perimeter of the inner bas-relief friezes, highlights included Heaven and Hell, Battle of the Gods, Procession of Suryavarman II and of course Churning of the Sea of Milk.

We left Angkor Wat, though not the last visit, on our bikes towards Angkor Thom.

Far north-western outer-wall entranceView of the outer-wall from insideView of the northern library with Angkor Wat temple in the background
Pond full of magenta water lilies adjacent Angkor WatMagenta water lilies in bloomPond of water lilies at Angkor Wat
Cruciform terrace guarded by lions connecting the causeway to the central structureIntricate stone carved windows mimicking the look of woodCylindrical stone carving imitating turned wood on a lathe
One of the Buddha status inside the cruciform cloister called Preah Poan, Hall of a Thousand GodsInside the cruciform cloister called Preah Poan, Hall of a Thousand GodsTravis at the southern entry of the cruciform cloister
View of the second gallery from the southern libraryCylindrical stone carvings at the window openingsSonya at the southern library with view of the inner area
View of the second gallery's outer wallStone totems in front of the second gallery's out wallDevatas on the wall of inside the second gallery
Sonya reading the guide at the base of the steps to the inner galleryInner gallery with central shrine and four surrounding gopuraMonkey and Garuda costumes
The very steep stairways represent the difficulty of ascending to the kingdom of the godsNorthern view of the jungle from Angkor WatOne of the Buddha status inside the inner gallery
The central Angkor Wat spireStanding Buddha status inside the main inner spireDeep devata wall carving
Looking west, towards Angkor balloonThe battle of KurukshetraDeep carved bas-reliefs
The army of King Suryavarman IIThe army of King Suryavarman IIHeaven and Hell, the Hell
The Churning of the Sea of MilkAngkor Wat temple seen from the main entranceSerpent and lion at the main entrance