So although Angkor Wat is the most famous Khmer Temple, even with just a one-day pass, it’s possible to see a whole circuit of temples.
We opted for the Grand Tour, wanting to see Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm, along with anything else interesting in between.
These “in between” temples were nonetheless stunning and we began with Preah Khan, or the Temple of the Sacred Sword (as the temple was built at the site of a famous victory over Cham invaders).
Basically, this one Khmer ruler, Jayavarman VII, was kind of obsessed with building temples (he ordered over 20 different complexes to be built, earning him the nickname “builder king”). While many of his projects were probably a bit over-elaborate, he paid builders well enough to significantly stimulate the Khmer economy, allowing it to expand.
The next stop, Neak Pean, is known as the island temple. While it and the four surrounding ponds are completely man-made, by eavesdropping on a French tour (putting my French education to use, aw yeah), I found out each of the four ponds was said to have different healing properties. Now, the waters are filled with highly infectious leeches and parasites.
Ta Som is then another temple the builder king made for his daddy.