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Monday, April 8, 2019

TRAVEL: Siem Reap's Neak Pean Temple

Siem Reap's Neak Pean Temple is like a scene from The Return of the King, third book of Lord of The Rings (LOTR) trilogy. It was still summer when we visited Siem Reap so the lake surrounding Neak Pean is somewhat dry.

If you are a fan of LOTR, you won't find it hard to imagine Aragorn crossing this lake so that he can speak to the Army of the Dead. Anyways, this is not LOTR but Neak Pean Temple which is part of Angkor Wat. This is my first time to visit this temple and I'm glad that I played tourist during my second trip to Siem Reap.

We went there first week of June and it was still summer although the rainy season was just beginning, or so our tuktuk driver told us. It rains in the afternoon and the day we visited the temple, the sky was somewhat gray.

From the temple gate, it was like a one kilometer walk across the lake before you reach the temple entrance. Visitors to the temple need to pass a very long stretch of wooden bridge (or planks) till the temple gate. We were really thankful that it didn't rain while we were crossing the bridge and up till the time we left Neak Pean.

At the gate, there's another lake to cross before arriving at the temple itself. No need to cross a wooden bridge this time, instead one will cross a stone bridge.

The temple itself is not the usual temple in Siem Reap. It is small (compared to Angkor Wat and Bayon) and is just an altar in the middle of (another) lake. In the olden times, those who pray at this temple need to ride a boat to get to the altar.

It is quite hard to get a decent shot of the altar unless one has a zoom lens. And it was very quiet at Neak Pean and from what our tuktuk driver told us, not a popular destination. The only sound that you will hear (apart from your own voices) are the rustling of leaves, sound of birds and insects.

The temple has four entrance (north, south, east, west) but we only managed to see pairs of tourists checking out the temple and they came from the other entrance.

The sky cleared up upon our trek back and you can actually see the greens and browns. It was still a long walk back to the main road but the view becomes much more enjoyable this time.

To sum it up, Neak Pean is my most memorable temple during this trip. Aside from the eerie walk to the temple gate, I also got to taste a local noodle dish just outside the road where the tuktuks are parked. Read more about that here --- Noodles Al Fresco at Neak Pean Temple.


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