12/13/11 - 12/13/11
I ended the first day with a trip out to Banteay Srei, a temple to the north of the greater complex. Although this temple is outside the Angkor Wat area, it was well worth the 45 minute TukTuk ride I took (and fell asleep during!). This temple had the most beautiful and intricate carvings in the stones, and the details were absolutely amazing.
Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a "precious gem", or the "jewel of Khmer art."
It's hard to believe this temple was created over a thousand years ago, and I can still go see carvings that look like they are new. This temple was absolutely breathtaking, and I'm glad I ventured out to see it even after a long day.