Kbal Spean — and biodiversity conservation, land mines, and butterflies
Kbal Spean is on the slopes of the Kulen Hills, to the north of the
main Angkor sites. It consists of stone carvings in and around a river
— it is also known as "The Valley of a Thousand Linga" —
and is reached by a 1.5km walk from a car park.
The walk is on a well-maintained track, with markers every 100 metres.
It climbs fairly steeply and, though it's mostly through jungle and
well-shaded, in mid-day temperatures over 30°C it was still a pretty
sweaty undertaking. There were quite a few other people on the track,
but it was still atmospheric — my first real experience of
jungle on the trip.
Vishnu carving (repaired)
After lunch I visited the Angkor Centre for
Conservation of Biodiversity, a small wildlife rescue and breeding
centre near the car park. (This is another joint venture, this time
with a German zoological society).
They have a lot of injured birds, including eagles and other raptors,
but the highlights here were the huge greater adjutant and lesser adjutant
storks. There are also leopard cats, primates including silvered langurs
and a slow loris, tortoises, lizards, and so forth.
Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus
water monitor Varanus salvator
On the drive back to Siem Reap we stopped at the Cambodia
Landmine Museum and then at the Banteay Srey Butterfly
Centre, which are rather a contrast. The Museum contains information
about and examples of the many types of land mines inflicted on Cambodia
over the years, as well as running programs for children affected
by mines. It is run by a former child soldier Aki Ra. The Centre is
training locals to raise butterfly pupae which can be sold overseas;
the idea is to provide a supplement to farming incomes.
There was a brief rainstorm while I was in the butterfly centre, which
cooled things down nicely. Back in Siem Reap, Richard wasn't feeling
well enough to go out to dinner, so I went off to a hotel where there
was a buffet dinner and an apsara dance. Both the dance and the accompanying
orchestra had some similarities to Javanese dance and gamelan. (I didn't
take a camera along, so there are no photographs.)
I walked back to the hotel in the dark, without being accosted by tuk-tuk
drivers — perhaps, without a camera or a backpack or a hat, in
the dark, I wasn't so obviously a tourist.
Next: Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, Srah Srang
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