empresspatti (empresspatti) wrote,

Banteay Srei – The Citadel of Women

Honored Guide and Trusted Driver picked me up from my hotel at the crack of dawn to take me to Banteay Srei. It was supposed to be an hour drive through Cambodian countryside, but we stopped often.

I was goggling at the beautiful handmade crafts, pottery and baskets at a roadside stand when a wedding party procession walked by.

Honored Guide introduced me (he’d lived in the Angkor Wat complex all his life) to everyone and their Parents. Go me - I remembered to wai to my elders. Little kids LOVED doing the ‘high five.’ I couldn’t stop giggling because Honored Guide insisted on showing everyone the picture of my kids at Halloween. It was quite the hit.

Have I mentioned that every single Cambodian I met was kind and gracious?

I got a tour of a cashew farm. At one point I met ‘the best cook in Cambodia.’ She was very excited to have me taste palm candy.

Personally, handmade candy that multiple people have handled before it gets to my mouth isn’t my singular thrill, but they were so sincere in their ‘special treat’ vibe that I just chomped it down with a smile and took Imodium later.

Sersly, I had already poked a termite mound, shook a gecko out of my shoe and dodged monkeys spitting at me. Why worry?

For the record, upon my return to Bangkok, I had a ridonklous weekend afflicted with Cambodian Potty Drama, but that was still a few days away….

Banteay Srei is know as ‘The Citadel of Women.’ It was a pale pink, feminine temple.

There were beautiful carvings of delicate women holding lotus flowers, wearing traditional skirts.

Cambodian Warrior.

I think this picture captures the blazing heat.

The temple was covered with decorative carvings.

I thought these kids were really cute.

Here is a typical climb.

The shade was welcome, and showed off the beautiful carvings.

It was a really fun day. Still, after all the conversation and introducing me to everyone in their ‘hood, Honored Guide and Trusted Driver were aghast when I assumed they would share a table with me at dinner. They insisted that I was the Important Farang and they were the Help. Period.

They sat me with a bow – and disappeared. I ate in splendid isolation, which was hard to do, as it was a HUGE venue, total chaos, populated by (easily) 4000 Korean tourists. The buffet went for miles around the perimeter. All around me were tables seating hundreds and I had the only tiny table in the restaurant. I was the nation of one.

There was an after dinner show of Traditional Cambodian Costumes, Music, Dancers, Flame Eaters. It was interesting, but I was hitting tired tourist overload.

It was a relief to get to the hotel, take a shower, lie on the bed in the dark and listen to the geckos in my room click at each other. I was happy to be truly alone, not just alone in a crowd.
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