Community Tourism at Banteay Srei
On our last day in Siem Reap, Cambodia, we visited a Hindu Temple called Banteay Srei. It was located 22 miles from our hotel. It was great to see more of Cambodia while listening to our iPods on the 1 hour-long tuk tuk ride. We arrived at the temple with lots of other tourists. Banteay Srei is still located within the Angkor Wat park. This particular temple was the most intricate temple of our trip. The carvings are so well-preserved. The temple area has a botanical garden, roaming water buffalo and many view points. Although this temple is farther away from town, it is totally worth the trek.
After exploring the Banteay Srei temple, we walked further past the temple and found a group of locals who offer canoe rides on a lake. After paying $12 USD for three of us, we got on a boat with our guide. This turned out to be one of my favorite experiences in Cambodia. Our guide spoke broken English but was very interested in our lives. He asked about California and he mentioned liking Obama. He let us know that he is 23 years old and desperately wants to attend University. Unfortunately, school is simply too expensive in Cambodia.
He also spoke about wanting to get married but being unable to afford the costs associated with a wedding. He was pleased to find out that Andrew and I were engaged to be married. The ride was soothing and very eye-opening. It was amazing to see the beautiful lake and lily pads. I will never forget this unique experience and it was great to support community tourism. We were all pleased to know our money goes directly to the locals who run the small boat service. There was not another tourist in sight. The quite really added to the experience.