Children playing at the Ta Som Temple
For my long overdue wrap-up post on Cambodia, I’d like to summarize some of the not-so-popular or off-the-beaten-path temples around the Angkor Archaeological Park which I think is worth some people’s look if they have extra time. The park like I always said is huge and warrants considerable number of days to explore all of them. But personally, no matter how grand the structures here are, there are times you would be “Templed Out”. I must admit on our last day there after visiting a major temple, I no longer want to see another brick or ruin again because they started to look the same. hehe. So it is advisable if you mix your temple-hopping with other activities in between to add variety.
Entrance to the Ta Som Temple
Considered as the most distant temple of the Grand Circuit, Ta Som sees only a few tourist so it’s a delight to visit since it’s small and quiet. Much of the structures here are left in ruins but there is still the central tower which stands. Before, there were fig trees growing along the entrances much like Ta Prohm but most of it were cut down due to the danger of damaging the structures more and the passersby. Only one entrance is left with the tree growth.
The small and attractive Thommanom Temple
Another photogenic temple just outside the walls of Angkor Thom, after passing by the Victory gate is Thommanon. Built at the same time as Angkor Wat, this small temple is still in excellent condition. The style is very similar to Angkor Wat yet on a miniature scale making it a nice photo opportunity with the forest behind it as a backdrop.
The Hall of Dancing Girls at Banteay Kdei Temple
Just south east of Ta Prohm is another monastic (one level) known as Banteay Kdei or “Citadel of Cells”. Much like the former, there are fig trees penetrating the temple. The area isn’t huge but one of its features is the central hallway where finely carved details of dancing girls can be found.
The island temple of Neak Pean
Probably one of the most unusual and unique of the Angkorian temples is Neak Pean. The other name for it is the “Coiled Serpent” as you could see in the design of this island temple. The water from its pool, which is usually filled up during rainy seasons are said to have healing properties.
The off-the-beaten temple of Banteay Samre
If you are planning on visiting the elaborate temples of Banteay Srei, do make a side trip to another distant temple, a bit outside the usual routes is Banteay Samre. This complex has a massive area surrounded by laterite walls but flat in structure. The inner temples are similar to Angkor Wat design since it was built about the same time. Try not to wander off outside its walls and path since there are still de-activated land mines around the area.
The Library Building at Preah Khan
Lastly, I guess is one of my favorite temple as well, is the massive Preah Khan. It is a monastic temple with very vast area filled with passages and carvings on its columns. When I say it’s huge, it is huge as this temple used to be a teaching ground. Much like a university at our present time. Aside from more picturesque growth of fig trees in the area, its main library building attracted me the most. As the columned structure reminds me a lot of Greece(Like I’ve been there. hehe) than Angkorian.
So there you go. That wraps up my post on Cambodia and hope that others would find this entry useful.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.