We met our driver who took us to Banteay Srei (citadel of the women), a temple dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. It’s considered a small gem of Khmer art, and is truly beautiful. From there to Kral Spean, river of 1000 lingas. About 1 1/2 roundtrip hike to see Hindu carvings in riverbed honoring Shiva. Cooled off in waterfall before hiking down. Our driver took us to Beng Mealea via back roads. Gave us a chance to see village life, the good and not so good. Memorable drive, dodging cows, chickens, dogs, bikes, tractors, mopeds… Beng Mealea might be my favorite place so far. It has not been restored, rather “devoured” by the jungle. Getting through there is about climbing over and around the tumbled massive stones. Also a Shiva temple. Like Parts of Angkor Thom, much of the appeal is the about the trees, sometimes holding up the structures, sometimes destroying them. There was a wedding party on the grounds and the guests were quite moved that Westerners trekked out to see the ruins. A few of the women took my hand to express their gratitude. Very sweet, very moving. Returned to town for one last massage here, this time a traditional Khmer.
Staying at the Golden Banana Hotel and Resort. Boby and Gage at the resort, while I’m in the hotel section. Gay establishment, big rooms, good food, very accommodating. Recommend it highly.