New Year's Eve Adventure!
I was finally comfortable enough on my trusty little POS scooter I rented for $10/day that it was time for an adventure. What better time than New Year’s Eve for a solo trek to Banteay Srei a.k.a. The Temple of Women or perhaps also translates to beauty/divine femininity. The entire temple was created from pink sandstone hauled from Phnom Kulen a beautiful, and apparently resource bountiful, mountain top. Rajeev, Emmit-a friend we met along the way, and I were there days earlier checking out the laying down Buddha, the paved river, and the beautiful waterfall. It was an hour and a half’s ride for my New Year’s Eve adventure.
Moving along the main roads quickly, as I got close, Google Maps took me the back way through some sleepy roadside villages and then through some farm land with mostly packed sand roads. I became a bit nervous but after about 20 minutes, I came to the parking lot near the temple and then felt only excitement. I took the lunch bag off the handle of my bike and bee lined it to the bathroom where you had to pay to use it and a lady out front was collecting the fee and selling fresh fruit which, for some reason, I thought sounded like a good idea. I got a mini watermelon which she had ready as I was coming out of the bathroom. I took it and went over to a covered bench area to enjoy my lunch. Four kids were playing some form of shuffle board with their shoes. They had some small bill and were shooting their shoes to see who could get theirs closer and then fighting about it, serious business.
On to the temple. It was absolutely beautiful and so ornate with all of the carvings of stories past. I found an unoccupied window sill to perch on and then people started taking pictures with me in the window frame. I have definitely been in the reverse position on multiple occasions so I didn’t let it affect me. I wandered around the temple grounds for a bit resting from the ride over and then it was time to head back due to the sun disappearing for the day. On the way back, I stopped at an awesome little vendor for a coconut and got a whole lot more.
If you didn’t know, I am making some gratuitous exceptions to being vegan while I am on my travels for the sake of experiencing some of the food here. It doesn’t go against my belief in eating mostly plants and consuming a dramatically less animal influenced diet due to the environment. That being said. I was so curious about one thing this lady had going on that I had to try it. It was a frog stuffed with fresh pork sausage spiced with lemon grass, orange, and other aromatic herbs compressed between two thin pieces of bamboo and clasped together at the end to hold it for grilling. I have to say it was incredible flavor and I am glad I ate it. First pork I have had in over a year. I also had a vegetarian turmeric rice pancake full of sprouts and served with a plate of fresh herbs that I couldn’t identify but that were fantastic. These are the kind of food experiences I had been craving all along. Guess I will have to wait for India.
It was indeed a happy new year. Siem Reap really pulls out all the stops for the tourists…some of the most spectacular and close fireworks to date.