- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
Though Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor are of course essential places to go to when in Cambodia, there are still choices to be made when it comes to deciding which of the temples to actually visit. Banteay Samré was one that figured on my own list of "things to see". And I wasn't disappointed.
I immediately liked the very rural environment here: the temple has a little rice field around it and there is a village located nearby. Banteay Samré stands a little apart from the other temples, and has an undeniable charm to it. When I was here I only encountered a few rare tourists, three quarters of whom were French. The temple dates from the 12th century and, like many of the others, has been superbly restored. It has the unusual feature of being surrounded by an actual wall: a six-metre high fortification that separates the temple from the area outside.
And in that very area outside, in fact, a small celebration was taking place: there were Cambodian people gathered around some old ladies, lots of food, and live music provided by musicians. Children played gently around the ruins and on the steps at the front of the temple while this was taking place. In the end, Banteay Samré turned out to be one of my favourite temples in Angkor, and I wasn't the only one who felt this way.