Banteay Srei and Kampong Phluk

Our final day of touring the Angkor region with a guide began with a visit to one of the oldest temples in Cambodia. Banteay Srei was built around 920 and is notable among the Angkor temples for it’s pink sandstone construction and more decorative and intricate carvings than the later grey sandstone temples. It is almost 200 years older than Angkor Wat, was in use for just about 15 years, and then abandoned and forgotten for almost 1000 years before rediscovery. It is completely marvelous how well it stood up to the elements through all that time.

Banteay Srei temple in Cambodia

From Banteay Srei, we drove to Kampong Phluk - one of the floating villages of the Tonlé Sap region. Tonlé Sap is an enormous lake in Cambodia, and it feeds and is fed by the Mekong River. (Not sure how that works.) There are many “floating” villages here, in which houses are built on very tall stilts to keep the homes dry during the monsoon floods. We’re here in December, which is not a flood time, so the village was far below the water line. Still, it was an incredible sight.

stilt-houses and long boats of Kampong Phluk, Cambodia

The boat took us up into the village, where we were able to walk along. It was incredible to me that this village had electricity to all of these stilt-homes, but the village we drove through to get here did not. Our guide explained that there is a generator for the Kampong Phluk Buddhist temple, and that the power lines for the homes come off of that. They use pump wells for water and have cement privies. We saw fresh markets and hardware stores and even a mobile phone shop. We passed kids in the street playing a ball game and others who would joyfully yell “Hellogoodbye! Hellogoodbye!” when they saw us. I marveled at the garden plots several of these stilt-homes had in front - some with flowers, some with herbs, some with melons.

street-side of Kampong Phluk village

At the end of this tour, we said goodbye to Sam. He was a great guide, and we really enjoyed our time with him. So many of our guides in Africa and Asia have been memorable for their friendliness, knowledge, and interesting personal stories. Sam is certainly one of them.

Picture with Sam, our Siem Reap tour guide

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