I visited Banteay Kdei early in the morning on the day I was leaving Cambodia and during the heaviest downpour of my whole trip, a combination that ensured I was probably the only tourist there at that time. Walking around the wooded grounds of Banteay Kdei in the rain felt pretty mystical and was a great way to finish my visit to Cambodia in the monsoon season.
The Ta Prohm temple was almost completely overrun by the forest. It may be easily accessible today but the sight of giant trees growing atop stone roofs is still sufficient to give you some impressions of having discovered a wild and long lost place.
The temple of Banteay Srei is widely touted by travel guides and tour organizations as the "jewel of Khmer art". It isn't an exaggeration and the temple does indeed have extremely detailed and intricate carvings on its walls and lintels that display the great workmanship and skill of the artisans of the Angkor civilization. A visit to to Banteay Srei is also a great opportunity to enjoy a ride through the villages of Cambodia and catch a glimpse of life in them.
The Jayatataka was the baray, a kind of large artificial lake, of King Jayavarman VII, the greatest of the monarchs of the Khmer Empire. The Neak Pean in the center of the Jayatataka was a place of healing for pilgrims in the times of the Angkor Civilization.
Many places around Siem Reap offer a combination of a dinner and dance package most evenings. It is a nice break to take and experience something different after a day of temple explorations. The dance show I went to was at the Angkor Village hotel's Apsara theater. The indoor theater is wood paneled and overall had great decor.
Angkor Thom, the "great city", is the site of the last capital of the Angkor Civilization. Founded by the Khmer Empire's greatest monarch, the Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, Angkor Thom is home to some of the finest and most famous surviving sites and temples outside of the Angkor Wat itself, including the surreal temple at the heart of the city, the Bayon with its massive stone face towers looking out in every direction
On my flight to Siem Reap I struck a conversation with a person who told me it was his 19th trip to Cambodia and he had never been to the Angkor Wat or for that matter any of the other temples even once. Odd, but to each their own was what I thought then and didn't recall that conversation again till I was back home, reminiscing about the trip, including my experience crossing the outer moat with the naga balustrade to see the magnificent Angkor Wat in the pouring rain for the first time. Wow, 19 missed opportunities for the sights of a lifetime.
Cambodia is beautiful in the rainy season. I would like to go back to Cambodia in a dry season some day, to experience a difference in the interplay between the sky, the land and of course, the magnificent temples. But whatever apprehensions I had about visiting Cambodia in the middle of the rainy months quickly went away with my first visit to a temple in Angkor, right out of the airport and even before I reached my hotel, the beautiful temple of Pre Rup.