The first temple built by Jayavarman VII in 1181, Banteay Kdei is just opposite the large Sra Serang Reservoir, a lovely lily pond that is 300*700m (984*2,296 ft.) and surrounded by sandstone steps of Khmer Vintage -- the reservoir is a popular place to watch the sunset gleaming off the water's surface. Sra Serang once housed a small island temple where the king liked to meditate -- now locals bathe here or steer the water to local rice farms. The four gates of Banteay Kdei have Jayavarman's iconic smiling face -- like those at the famed Bayon. The east entrance brings you past an area lined with lions and nagas along an open terrace once used for performances. There's a moat around the second interior gate. The Buddha at the entrance is an original, intact statue, quite unique to the Angkor compound where so many pieces have been stolen or destroyed (beheaded).

Some portions of the main interior temple area are held together with strong rope and cable. Look for a small offering house with columns just inside on the right used to gain merit through gift giving. Also keep your eyes open for the refined Apsara carvings on the main temple. Exit via the west gate -- look for more Jayavarman heads -- and walk the verdant fields around the side of the temple back to the east gate and your wheels, or take a short walk, through a gauntlet of young hawkers, to the Sra Serang Reservoir.