After doing the sunrise short circuit tour of the temple complex, we decided to sign up for the sunset "grand tour" the next day. This tour was more informal and didn't have a guide, but we shared a tuk-tuk with another couple from the hostel.
Here's the view of the patio area outside of the hostel where we waited for the tuk-tuk.
The first temple on our grand tour was Preah Khan. Even before we got to the temple, though, we saw some cool statues and a big, creepy bug.
We saw a ton of carvings of half-bird, half-man creatures that we later learned are called garudas. We found their belt decorations interesting...
We started exploring the temple on our own and got some good photos.
As we were looking at the inside of the temple, a Cambodian police officer...or at least someone wearing a Cambodian police uniform...started to tell us a little bit about the temple. He then said he would take our photo and held out his hand for my phone. I was a little unsure but hoped for the best and handed over my phone. It turns out that, in doing so, we had unintentionally hired ourselves a photographer for a mini photo shoot inside the temple. He took us all around the temple and had us pose in various locations. And of course, he made sure that we gave him a $2 tip for his troubles. The photos turned out pretty good and I got my phone back, so I say this was more of a win than a scam!
Here's the pics from our impromptu photo shoot
Afterwards, we explored the area outside the back of the temple. I think the giant trees were one of the best parts of a lot of these temples.
Next on our tour was an artificial island called Neak Poan. I looked up photos of it online afterwards And discovered that it looks much better when there is a lot of water.
But it was still good to see, especially since Dylan had some fun attempting to be Tarzan.
The third stop on our tour was the Ta Som temple. This temple had a lot of moss growing on it as well as some cool statues, carvings, and trees, which made for good photos, I think!
Next on the tour was the East Mebon Temple, which is a lot older than the other temples we had been visiting.
I really liked the elephant and lion statues here, as evidenced below...
Dylan had to watch his head throughout most of our temple exploration. Turns out he's a little taller than 11th century Cambodians were...
Our grand tour was scheduled to last until 6:30pm, which is around when the sun sets, but we only had one more temple to visit by about 4:30pm. At this point, we discovered that even though we didn't have a tour guide, our tuk-tuk driver was on-track to take us to another expensive restaurant outside the last temple. Luckily, the couple that we were sharing a tuk-tuk with were on the same page as us, and we refused the tourist trap restaurant while trying not to seem like total jerks.
The last temple was very similar to the one before, but we made sure to get our fill of photos, including some silly ones...
Once we were done exploring and taking photos, we headed outside to find our tuk-tuk driver, only to discover that he wasn't there! We walked to another area to see if we had miscommunicated about our meeting point and wondered if this was our pay-back for not participating in the tourist-trap restaurant. Before too long, though, he showed up and we made it back safe!
After getting a lot of sleep the night before, Dylan and I felt well-rested and ready to take on Pub Street at night time. We ate dinner on the upstairs balcony of a restaurant that specialized in Khmer food.
We then walked around, checking out another night market.
Ultimately, we found a great spot at one of the restaurants on Pub Street to do some people watching and take advantage of the $0.50 draft beers. The restaurant across the street had a live band that was so terrible that they were great. I had to get a photo with them to document the experience before we called it a night.