Where We Be
Angkor -- The Remote Temples
Did you know Angkor was once the largest pre-
industrial city in the world? It had an estimated
population of over 1 million people spread over
some 1000 square kilometers! The temples in
the Angkor area number over 1000 so you're
obviously not going to see all of them (unless
you're an obsessive-compulsive archaeologist).
Here are three of the more remote ones we
would recommend (all reachable by tuk-tuk):

BANTEAY SREI: A miniature-feeling temple that
is highly ornate, with fine carvings all over the
towers and door lintels.

BENG MEALEA: Nature has truly run riot here.
The ultimate Indiana Jones temple is covered  
with vines and tree roots. It's an unrestored
jumble of stone blocks and blocked doorways.

ROLUOS GROUP: These are the earliest large
permanent temples built by the Khmer back in
the 800's. Precursors to the biggies at Angkor.
Be sure to take a walk around the perimeter to get a sense of what it looks like from the outside
What a wonderful jumble of stone blocks, blockaded doorways, and gates leading nowhere
This side temple almost looks like a mini-version of Beng Mealea itself
Jungle overlook along the way
This panel depicts the burning of Khandava forest as animals flee in panic
It's a 1.2 mile (2 km) uphill hike along a jungle trail to Kbal Spean
False doors are a common element here
Built in the 10th century AD, the temple is certainly one of the jewels of Khmer art
Each tower is covered with fine carvings. You don’t go
into the towers themselves but rather walk around them.
We started our visit to Banteay Srei by walking around the perimeter of the diminutive temple
site. The outside walls are plain blocks, a stark comparison to the ornate buildings within.
We’re so glad we made the effort to see Beng Mealea, which turned out
to be our favorite temple experience in Angkor – and that’s saying a lot
The temple's unrestored state makes it all the more enticing to photograph and explore
It feels good to explore after the two-hour tuk-tuk ride it takes to get here
This tree "arm" looks like it's about to lasso Robin and drag her away
We got off the boardwalk and clambered over huge blocks of stone, crossed makeshift
“bridges,” and slipped down huge slabs to get to the next viable foothold. Fun!
Beng Mealea is sometimes called the ultimate Indiana Jones
temple because it's mostly unrestored and nature has run riot here
A monk in saffron robes circles Bakong, Cambodia’s earliest temple mountain -- a symmetrical
pyramid with five tiers of solid sandstone. The steep stairs to the top are like giant’s stairs.
The biggest and most interesting temple at Roluos is called Bakong
These simpler temples -- precursors to the biggies at Angkor -- are located about 13 km east of Siem Reap
The second temple, Preah Ko, has six brick towers and was
built by Indravarman I as a funerary temple for his ancestors
The temple is covered over with vines and tree roots. Awesome!
We also paid a quick visit to the Butterfly Center on the way home -- I particularly enjoyed getting to hold this stick insect
Some of the sculptures are literally underwater, like this one of a sleeping Shiva
We combined our visit to Banteay Srei with another site called Kbal Spean. There were hundreds of carvings of "lingas" --
phallic representations of Shiva, supposedly, but looking more like checkers to our eyes -- dotting the rocks
in the  riverbed. For this reason Kbal Spean is sometimes called the River of a Thousand Lingas.
Our favorite carving at Banteay Srei: two elephants who look
for all the world like they're clinking glasses with raised trunks!
Seeing these carvings up close is the real pleasure of a visit to Banteay Srei
Lovely design work
Definitely worth the long tuk-tuk ride
We arrived around noon and had the place mostly to ourselves. If you visit Kbal Spean
first (see below), you can avoid the worst of the tourist crush between 9-11 am.
Locals literally sweep the jungle floor clean with brooms
Kbal Spean is worthwhile as an add-on to Banteay Srei
Small carvings can be found on many of the rocks
After Beng Mealea we visited the three primary temples of the Roluos Group. Built in the 9th century AD,
Roluos served as the first Khmer capital. Above is Lolei, which we affectionately call “mossy top.”
Robin noted that all the elephant statues at Bakong have been -- wait for it! -- truncated
Located some 65 km northeast of Siem Reap, Beng Mealea is way out in the countryside. You'll have to pay an extra $5 per person,
separate from the Angkor pass, but it’s worth it. The only temple that rivals it for us is the other “nature temple,” Ta Prohm.