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It’s also run by people with big hearts and keen social awareness.While many hotel managers in Siem Reap have retrenched staff during the global financial downturn, the de la Paix management team took a collective pay cut in order to retain all part time and casual workers.
Fickle climate change has increased unpredictability. Now, heavy rain may fall at any time, though January through May is normally dry.[caption id="attachment_2187" align="alignnone" width="262"] Guide with Apsara statues at Angkor Wat.[/caption] Landmines scattered around this area have only recently been removed with the help of a German aid organisation.[caption id="attachment_2179" align="alignnone" width="407"] Landmine clearing sign.[/caption] Carried away again by the tomb raiding atmosphere, I completely forget that it’s a jungle out here. [caption id="attachment_2170" align="alignnone" width="448"] Beng Melea is far from Angkor Wat's madding crowds.[/caption] At Bantey Srey, a lovely pink-hued sandstone temple, known also as the ‘Citadel of the Women’ for its delicately carved inlays of village women, we are also alone.Add rampant local corruption to the tale and sadness becomes the overarching narrative.Most travellers in Siem Reap spend a few days at the great temples, undoubtedly among Asia’s magnificent sights.Given the scores of camera-toting tourists lined up at the artificial lake in front of Angkor Wat waiting for the requisite dawn or dusk money shot, it continues to be a global tourism drawcard.
[caption id="attachment_2168" align="alignnone" width="448"] Angkor Wat in late morning sunlight.[/caption] Other temples such as Angkor Thom and Bayon attract similar sized crowds.
[caption id="attachment_2182" align="alignnone" width="448"] Ta Prohm face statues details.[/caption] Relatively few visitors are aware that the Siem Reap region contains over 200 temples, most of them infrequently seen.
To gain an appreciation of what lies waiting to be explored, head to Phnom Bakheng atop Temple Mountain and be amazed at the sweeping vista, a sure invitation to venture further a field.
[caption id="attachment_2171" align="alignnone" width="448"] Bantey Srey temple, 'Citadel of Women'.[/caption] While the less popular temples are undeniably stunning, eerily quiet and peaceful, after a few days I’ve reached temple overload.
A sort of ‘not another bloody temple’ experience akin to too many European cathedrals in a week or too many masterpieces in the Louvre museum in a day.
Admittedly, the de la Paix is a 5-star hotel, slick and cool with efficient plumbing and an in-house generator that kicks in when the town’s power supply shuts down, which occurred daily while I was there.