Photo: Weathered details still show.

Banteay Samre

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Built by Suryavarman II, Banteay Samre is believed to have been completed early in the 12th century, and has an interesting tale behind its construction.





The story goes that a poor Samre farmer (Samre were a group of people who populated the Kulen hills to the northeast of Siem Reap) by the name of Pou had a particular talent for growing sweet cucumbers.

Almost a window, but not quite. Photo taken in or around Banteay Samre, Angkor, Cambodia by Caroline Major.

Almost a window, but not quite. Photo: Caroline Major

When Pou presented some of the cucumbers to the then-king, he was so taken with them he secured the exclusive rights and commanded Pou to kill anybody who tried to enter his cucumber fields without permission. When cucumber production dropped off during the monsoon, the king became impatient and snuck into the fields himself to try and source a few of the delectable cucumbers—the farmer followed his instructions and speared him to death. When he realised his mistake he buried the king in the middle of the field and hoped nobody would notice.

When a new king couldn’t be decided upon, the dignitaries consulted a divine elephant to select the new monarch. The elephant walked straight to the farmer’s shack, where it saluted the farmer, knelt and then encircled him with its trunk and placed him gently on its back.

Smile: You’re on Travelfish camera. Photo taken in or around Banteay Samre, Angkor, Cambodia by Caroline Major.

Smile: You’re on Travelfish camera. Photo: Caroline Major

Once king, Pou his predecessor dug up and performed proper funeral rites at Pre Rup (guides more often tell this story at Pre Rup than at Banteay Samre). His subjects were a bit put out being ruled by a Samre, and despite all his efforts he couldn’t get the respect he deserved. In the end, Pou moved out to Banteay Samre and set up his ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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