Present for Ha’s Daughter

After my first meeting with Ha’s daughter, I knew it wasn’t going to be our last. This sort of caught me off guard as all my recent encounters with kids were negative – either trained clowns able to fake-cry on command, going out of their way to get money off of you and telling you to F%$k off if you don’t give it to them, or screaming the entire flight turning an already exhausting experience into a nightmare from hell – so if you even remotely brought up anything to do with kids, I would have told you to keep them as far away from me as possible so nobody gets hurt. But bubbly personality Ha’s daughter was radiating got the best of me.

After I embarked on my third day of Angkor exploring, I took on the Grand Circuit in a counter-clockwise direction with a mandatory stop at my new-found friends’ from the Sras Srang village. The temple of Banteay Kdei was about 12 km away from where I stayed in Siem Reap, and just a corner turn away from the Grand Circuit which made it a perfect, strategic stop to recharge on energy with coconut water and cool off the sweat the ride so far has resulted in. But I also had an extra plan for the stop at Banteai Kdei.

When I first went with Ha to see her daughter, I made a quick stop at a convenience store to buy candy. I thought it would make a kid happy and pre-occupied enough to leave me the hell alone. It did make her happy – beyond happy – but it didn’t keep her off of me, though by that time I didn’t mind. Obviously, buying the kid a simple thing which her mother could not afford to buy meant a world to the little girl. Anticipating my next meeting with her, I thought I was gonna buy something more sustainable and less damaging to her already spoilt teeth. I had to take two things into an account:

  • No matter where in Siem Reap I go, I’d get ripped off
  • Ha was always by my side, except from times when I was at Angkor

I wanted to make it a surprise so buying anything in Siem Reap would defeat this idea. And since any business in Siem Reap would try to rip me off as much as any tout at Angkor Archaeological Park would, there was no benefit to buying in town over buying at Angkor. On top of it all – my relationship with the Sras Srang villagers was nicely developing so I thought I’ll get the best of both world and buy something for Ha’s daughter from them.

As much as I enjoyed the company of the villagers, they were still Cambodians and I was still a foreigner. For them it’s always an “Us Against Them” game so as I kept spending more and more time with them, but buying nothing except a whole pile of coconuts every day, they continued bugging me and requesting that I fall for their sales pitch and spend more money. Under normal circumstances, I would not give in to the pressure of pestering touts (except that one time when the little girl tout who broke into tears after a would-be customer bought from somebody else), but since I wanted to buy Ha’s daughter something anyway, so why not from my new friends? Whom better to support financially than people with whom I was gonna spend several month with (though at the time I didn’t quite know it yet)? So I did just that. It didn’t ease the pressure one bit, but gave me an extra argument to counter theirs with when they tried to force me into buying some more.

Granted, everything they sell at Angkor is a piece of junk. There are basically two types of items you can buy: bootlegs of all sorts and miserable quality t-shirts. I didn’t have many options so I went for a low quality t-shirt. I’m not very good at buying presents so I had to make it easy on myself. The biggest challenge I was faced with was trying to guess the right size for Ha’s daughter. They had children sized tops with elephants on them in both small and medium. I asked my friends to get some four year old girl touts to come over so I can test the size on them. Since Ha’s daughter was the same age and racial differences are minimal between the Vietnamese and the Cambodians, I thought this was gonna help me choose the right size. I ended up going with medium sized top as small seemed as though it was meant for infants. I also thought buying the top that’s a bit too big would be better in a long run than getting one that’s a bit too small. The four year olds grow big quickly, so if the garment is a tad large right now, it’ll fit just fine later. Whereas if it’s already tight, it’s gonna be completely unusable very soon.

My suspicion was correct – the medium sized top was still a bit too big for her, but that mattered not. Both Ha and her daughter were beaming with delight when I pulled the top out of my camera bag and handed it to the little girl. I haven’t seen this much happiness in a very long time. The girl was so excited she instantly wanted to pose for pictures with her new top on. She loved having her pictures taken and as a photographer, I loved taking them. Four year old, but so photogenic and just shining with glamour. Little did they know at the time that this was naught but the beginning. The main surprise of the day was yet to come.

Gallery of pictures I took of Ha’s daughter wearing the top I bought her from the villagers at Banteay Kdei temple is below:

Buying Postcards from a Little Girl Tout

While I was chatting it away at Banteay Kdei temple as part of my break from the sun, something happened that made me break my #1 rule of not supporting the culture of handouts. Saly, Sarein and Kai kept sharing stories of the village life with me when loudish, argument like screaming came out of the temple gate and one little girl walked out of there in tears.

I’ve had many children approach me with fake tears during the course of my stay in Cambodia, but this one was different. This girl was not faking it to trick anyone into giving her money, this girl was sincerely hurting. Everyone, including Saly, Sarein and Kai as well as everyone else who was around completely ignored the child as if it was nobody else’s, but her own business to get over it.

I was appalled and wanted to at least know the reason why she was crying so I could attempt to make her feel better. Everybody was telling me that it was nothing and that she’d be over it right away but I wanted her to tell me what it was that made her cry so much. Through endless sobbing, she eventually let me know that one of the other child slaves managed to make a foreigner buy postcards from her, a foreigner whom, as she said, she was the first to talk to.

Child slaves who are summoned by their parents to bother tourists at Angkor Temples are instructed to say certain things that are proven to maximize their chances of selling. Because foreigners are accosted on every step of their way at Angkor, they impulsively reject every attempt at being sold something as they would have had a million and one chances to buy the same stuff from hundreds of previous touts they were jumped by along the way so far, if they had any intention to own any of the junk.

Photo: Little Girl Tout Trying to Sell Bracelets and Postcards to a Foreigner at Banteay Kdei, Angkor
Photo: Little Girl Tout Trying to Sell Bracelets and Postcards to a Foreigner at Banteay Kdei, Angkor

Common responses to impulsive rejection include the “Where Are You From?” question the purpose of which is to get the foreigner engaged in a conversation so they eventually feel connection with the tout and agree to buying something because of that. If that fails and there is no stopping the foreigner from exiting the territory in which the touts is allowed to operate, the touts will utilize the last resort phrase by saying something like: “I’ll wait for you on your way back, OK? When you come back you buy from me!”

This is obviously what the heartbroken girl told the tourist as he was walking inside the temple where she was not allowed to harass anyone, but then when he was walking outside and already had his set of postcards purchased from some other tout, she felt betrayed by whoever the successful tout was and that made her cry and get in an argument with that other girl.

It felt as though the sale of that pack of postcards was a “must happen” for her that day. Perhaps she was threatened by her parents who control her that if she doesn’t sell anything today, she would not get anything to eat or worse. Why otherwise would a 7 year old girl cry like that over an unsuccessful sale? Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter to me at the time. I was right there and at that very moment there was one devastated little girl who was this close to making one sale but someone else ended up with the score.

Sadly, Cambodians draw great pleasure from other people’s suffering. Nothing makes them happier than seeing someone else get in a tight spot. Everyone around, especially the other little girl touts were laughing their asses off and so were the rest of the locals who were nearby. I found this behaviour absolutely atrocious and because there is no stopping of Cambodians who have themselves a good time because they see someone else suffer, I told the girl to follow me so I could withdraw her from this abuse and mockery.

I walked with her across the road where shops are lined up and told her that I would buy that pack of postcards from her. I had no need for any of her postcards – as a matter of fact, I could not possibly consider buying anything as when you are on the road for a long time, wasting money on useless junk is not a smart option but most of all – there is only so much room you have in your backpack and even if you stick with mere necessities, hauling it around on your back over and over will make you understand that you’re not gonna add to it unless it’s really important.

There was absolutely nothing any of the relentless touts could possibly say to make me buy anything from them. Yet in this very moment, all of my personal reasons and beliefs dwindled aside and gave way to making the difference in a life of one single person. The pack of 10 postcards she was trying to sell was of absolutely no use to me. But the one dollar she would make would mean everything to her.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any one dollar bills on me so I took a five dollar bill to Saly and asked her if she could break it for me so I can buy the postcards from that little girl. And Saly did exactly what I should have expected – she took my money and came back with two one dollar bills and a Bayon t-shirt she said was worth $3 and I had just bought it. Well damn!

The premise of not buying anything you don’t need when you’re on the road is a big one. If I were to buy a t-shirt from every place I visit, I’d quickly need another backpack. This was simply not an option. I had just enough t-shirts to get by and the only way I’d buy a new one would be if I needed to replace one I had worn out. I wash my clothes by hand and wear them in all imaginable situations, including crazy adventures so when a piece of garment wears out, then I’ll buy a new one – to replace it, but not until there is such need.

Saly made a decision for me about this t-shirt, though. I ended up with a t-shirt I didn’t even like and a set of 10 postcards I had nobody to send to (I live in a digital age. Old school snail mail is not for me. Instead of postcards, I send my family and friends digital pictures I took via email). But that’s what I get for making friends with touts.

I wasn’t mad though. I ended up with more junk to haul around, but I thought it turned out being a wonderful day so in the end, it was all worth it. I didn’t want the t-shirt so I donated it right away and the postcards – yeah, I actually did haul them around until my return back to Canada in December.

I had to face a lot of rage from other child touts after the purchase of those postcards, though. Each of them wanted me to buy from them and I gave each of them a firm “No” so when they found out I had eventually bought the postcards despite previous claims that I couldn’t buy any, it gave them the reason to blame me. Honour is not a virtue that’s commonly found in Cambodia. Touts are used to lying – they’ve been lying every day of their lives since they could talk. Expecting any form of honour from a person whose life is based on lies would be foolish. As a result, any villager I didn’t buy from would treat me as an unwanted intruder during my 2 months long stay in the village.

Stick Insect Pictures

While I was taking a break and chatting away with girls at Banteay Kdei temple, someone pointed out a stick insect that was sitting there idly on the side of the garbage bin and started taking pictures of it. I didn’t even see it it was so well camouflaged. Since I haven’t seen one before with my own eyes, I also didn’t realize they were this big.

Photo: Do Birds Feed on Stick Insects or Who Is Their Adversary (Aside from Humans)?
Photo: Do Birds Feed on Stick Insects or Who Is Their Adversary (Aside from Humans)?

This stick insect was just sitting there, minding his own business and didn’t get disturbed not even after we’ve taken notice of him and caused commotion trying to take picture of it. Just as it was with Praying Mantis, I didn’t have good lens to take a decent picture of it, but since stick insects are not particularly known for being vicious predators, I was not as apprehensive trying to get closer to it.

Photo: Very Stationary, Taking Pictures of Stick Insects is Easy
Photo: Very Stationary, Taking Pictures of Stick Insects is Easy

Its overall size also made it easier to compose the picture. It was yet another first for me in one day. The sun was killing me, the touts were driving me insane, but the wildlife made up for it. Stick insects for the win.

Below is a small photo gallery of stick insect pictures:

Making Friends with Villagers

Banteay Kdei was the first bigger temple I stopped at during my second day at Angkor but I was already heat-exhausted. Previous two stops at Prasat Kravan and Bat Chum were very brief and Banteay Kdei itself was much smaller than Angkor Wat or Bayon I visited the day prior so there was no real reason to feel tired but the intensity of Cambodian sun is not to be taken lightly. Sweat was oozing out of every pore on my skin turning the clothes I was wearing into a mush of grease.

If I were to continue riding bicycle and exploring more temples in this heat, I needed a break to recharge. I really needed a gush of cooling breeze but since that doesn’t exist at Angkor, I had to make do with the shade of a large tree. And once I got my breath back and stopped dripping like a broken faucet, I was gonna buy a coconut. Or two.

Like all other bigger temples of Angkor, Banteay Kdei is also overrun with aggressive, in-your-face touts and pestering children who won’t leave your side. As if dealing with scorching heat was not enough of a challenge already, you are also forced to battle off these relentless hustlers. There is no escaping them. You’ll waste a lot of energy shaking one off and just as you’re ready to breathe the fresh air having gotten yourself rid of it, a new half a dozen jump down your back and you’re back to ground zero.

The entire Angkor experience is greatly bastardized by touts who won’t leave you alone for one second. You can’t stop for a moment to take a picture cause it will give them time to encircle you so you have no way to escape their clutch. You can’t take a look to the left or to the right cause there will be a groups of them there who will instantly take advantage of an eye contact you have made and will treat it as an invitation to hustle you into buying worthless junk from them.

As I was exploring Banteay Kdei, I could not wait to get out of the temple grounds cause there were just too many touts inside and they were just too aggressive. I walked hastily towards the exit hoping to find salvation behind that giant gate with four smiling faces on top. But as soon as I made it through, I was jumped by a whole host of fresh touts who were awaiting just outside. Imagine the level of frustration this puts you through.

It was like: “You got to be kidding me! You are trying to sell me the same junk the touts inside had. If I had any intention to buy any of it, I would have bought it from the touts who harassed me inside. Hack, I could have bought it from the dozens of those at Prasat Kravan where I was earlier. Better yet, I could have bought it from the thousands of them super aggressive pests I had to deal with the day prior while I was at the most famous of all temples.”

Don’t these people get it? Everyone inside was bothering me with the same pirated books. What makes them think I would have gone through great lengths to not buy any from the touts inside only to change my mind now that I stepped outside? Regardless, they got right in my face and started with their mental torture, bashing at me from every angle I could turn to. It was absolutely horrible which only added to an overall feeling of being entirely heat-exhausted.

Photo: Would You Like To Buy a Book?
Photo: Would You Like To Buy a Book?

Abused or not, I could not go on. I needed a break, a coconut and a new bottle of water to take with me. I asked the girls if it was possible to hide in a shade of that large tree to the side of the entrance, where they all had plastic chairs full of extra pirated books just in case they’re having a good day and start running out.

Pausing right in the middle of the viper’s nest came with its repercussions – obviously. While it’s normally only about half a dozen of touts you have on your back at any given time, by pausing within their operation ground I had a whole host of them outscreaming one another in desperate attempts to trick me into buying something from them. It was beyond ridiculous but I needed a break regardless. I was too sweaty to go on.

The life didn’t stop with me being there, though. It was interesting to see how quickly their focus changes. While they all were on me because I was paused in their territory, when a new tuk tuk pulled in, their attention immediately shifted towards their new prey. And from the shade of the tree, I silently watched those other tourists desperately trying to shake them off, and just shook my head at how it was yielding zero results. I heard them all swearing in disbelief, trying to explain to the touts that they don’t need any of their worthless junk but it was all in vein. Visibly devastated by this ongoing abuse, the foreigners had to take it all in disgust.

Because Angkor touts seem to have territorial agreements between one another, entering a new territory means the end of abuse from one group, and the beginning of abuse from another. So when new tourists I saw coming escaped the grip of the touts operating in front of Banteai Kdei by entering the temple, they exposed themselves to the touts inside and the focus of the touts outside, which got temporarily shifted away from me was once again redirected back to me.

This pattern kept repeating with each new tourist (or a group of tourists) that made a stop at Banteay Kdei. Each time someone new came, they all went running to encircle them and when they walked inside the temple (aka outside their territory), they came back to me as even though I was just resting, I was still a foreigner and that translates to endless attempts to sell me something.

An interesting thing happened, though. After a good while and numerous attempts to make money at me, some of the girls eventually eased up on hustling and started to talk to me like friends. We talked about the country I came from as well as the country I was in, we talked about the way relationships work in Cambodia, about life in the village they were from, as well as a bunch of regular whinery Cambodians seem to be professionals at – how poor they are and how difficult it is for them to survive.

This was interesting because this whinery lands them with a lot of free stuff. The poorer they make themselves look in the eyes of dozens of foreigners they came in touch with every day, the more they get from them in donations and sponsorships. The girls I met had their English classes, their motorcycles, their expensive clothes – so many things paid for by people they abused during the course of their “duty”. They are used to getting handouts so an alternative is not an attractive option for them. The alternative, of course, is to invest time and effort into studying so as to acquire a skill that could land them a job and a career. But that requires hard work, dedication, sacrifice and in the end puts you in a position of having to go to work and deliver results as per your employer’s requirements. Then they would be able to buy their own motorcycle, their own clothes and pay for their own further education. But who can be bothered to do that. It’s much easier to just get in front of the temple and whine about how poor we are and be handed that out for free. So they do precisely that. And foolish foreigners, who have not been lucky enough to have someone pay for their education, go to work every day and dedicate the best days of their lives to earning money in the sweat of their own brow, end up falling for the trick and the handouts keep pouring in. Thus the culture of handouts gets enrooted deeply in the minds of the people who don’t even try to improve their own lives. But let’s get back to me making friends with the villagers.

I was definitely more heat-exhausted than I would have liked to admit so I spend good one and a half hour chatting away with those new found friends. Three of the girls in their early twenties were particularly nice to chat with as they were the only ones operating outside of the temples that were old enough to eventually get the fact that I’m simply just resting before the rest of my journey and am not buying anything other than coconuts and water.

Most of the touts harassing tourists are children deployed by their parents, though. It’s a perfect case of child slavery where parents are the masters. Instead of going to school, children are forced into spending their whole days at the temples to abuse foreigners because it’s easier for a child to pull off fake tears with lies to land some cash. These children are taught basic phrases that are proven to work the best. They often involve open lies, such as that they have no parents and need money for school, none of which is true. The “where are you from?” response to being told “No” is also a common phrase these children are taught.

Other than that, most of these children are too young to understand the foreign language well enough to get it when you’re trying to explain why you can’t buy anything from them. So they will just follow you around while continuously mumbling their memorized chants and you’ll have absolutely nothing to work with to get them off your side.

It was a little better with Saly, Sarein and Sokai (or Kai for short) who were past their twenties and spoke better English. After they’d failed to sell me their books the tenth time and after I’d repeatedly made myself clear about being unable to buy anything from them, they eventually stopped harassing me and only came over for a chat. They took off each time a new tourist showed up, but after the tourists entered other tout’s territory and there was nobody else to harass, they came to me to talk. It’s a long day they have at the temple (they start at dawn, which is often before 6am and “work” until dusk, which is at around 6pm) so killing time while they’re waiting for their next prey with someone new helped them get through the day faster.

This break I took eventually turned out being quite an interesting experience. I made new friends with those three girls and ended up spending almost every day of the rest of my stay in Cambodia with them. Saly and Sarein lived in the village on the south bank of Sras Srang, opposite Bantey Kdei temple, while Kai lived with her mother in the village along the road lining the northern bank. Child slaves never actually stopped bothering me, not even after months of coming there day in, day out, but this was definitely the most authentic Cambodian experience I could have asked for.

Praying Mantis Pictures

It was while exploring Banteay Kdei temple ruins when I first saw a Praying Mantis out in the wild. While this is no big deal to many people, we don’t have those in Canada so I was pretty excited to have spotted it there and gotten a chance to take pictures.

Photo: Praying Mantis I Spotted at the Banteay Kdei Temple
Photo: Praying Mantis I Spotted at the Banteay Kdei Temple

This little bug was trying to look inconspicuous by sitting on a stone heated by the sun. Unfortunately, I only had my wide angle lens with me so the chances of taking a decent close up picture of it were nonexistent. Having had no previous experience with Praying Mantises, I didn’t know how vicious they were with humans.

Even though I didn’t have appropriate lens on my camera, I still wanted to take at least some pictures of it but with wide angle lens on, the only way get it was by shoving the camera in its face (even then too broad of an area would be captured, but that’s all I could do). But what are Praying Mantises capable of? Will it jump on my hand when I get too close and bite? I didn’t know for sure so I kept what I considered a safe distance.

Photo: Praying Mantis Enjoying the Warm Rays of Cambodian Sun
Photo: Praying Mantis Enjoying the Warm Rays of Cambodian Sun

I’ve seen many more Praying Mantises since and never had any of them attempt to attack me so I’m guessing my concerns were unfounded. I even had Praying Mantises spring out of the grass and land on my leg on a few occasions but there’s never been any attempt to bite me or anything of sort. So I guess after some experience with those I can safely assume that although Praying Mantises are pretty vicious with insects they feed on, when it comes to objects much larger in size, they play it nice.

Banteay Kdei Temple

Banteay Kdei temple doesn’t get the buzz and attention it deserves. It was built by king Jayavarman VII, the same god-king who built Angkor Thom and Bayon (notorious for its face towers) and as such, Banteay Kdei contains architectonic elements resembling other structures built during the reign of Jayavarman VII. For me personally, Banteay Kdei and Sras Srang – which is just on the opposite side of the road – were the very locations where I spent most of my time during my stay in Cambodia. This makes Banteay Kdei my biased favorite.

Photo: Banteay Kdei is a Small but Complex Temple
Photo: Banteay Kdei is a Small but Complex Temple

Banteay Kdei, the Khmer name of which means “The Citadel of the Cells” was built in the late 12th, early 13th centuries. Its gopuras (gateways) are crowned with the same face towers that adorn Victory Gate (as well as other gates) of Angkor Thom. Unfortunately, the sandstone used for construction of Banteay Kdei was not of the finest quality and the workmanship of stone masons was nowhere near that of the masters who built Prasat Kravan so the temple fell into a dilapidated state in which it can be found today. Much of the galleries within outer and inner enclosures are in a great state of collapse.

Scholars say that Banteay Kdei was built to be a Mahayana Buddhist temple but even though it was used as a monastery by the monks who dwelt within for centuries, the inscription stone that would contain detailed information about which divinity the temple was originally dedicated to has gone missing.

Photo: Collapsed Corridors of Banteay Kdei
Photo: Collapsed Corridors of Banteay Kdei

Even though similar in layout to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan temples, Banteay Kdei is smaller and not as elaborate. There is only one level on which the structure stands and contains two concentric galleries enclosed within two successive walls. Banteay Kdei faces east with east wall of its outer enclosure containing the main gopura which serves as the main entrance (from where you will get in). Part of the eastern outer wall is collapsed – it’s to the right of the main entrance when facing it from the outside but even though I tried, I was not allowed to enter from there. I saw both wandering live stock and locals get in and out of there, though.

As mentioned above, the main gopura is surmounted by a tower containing four faces of smiling Lokeshvara with features closely resembling king Jayavarman VII. If you look closely, you will also notice three small sculptures of Buddha carved at the base of the tower, at the meeting point of each two faces. The gopura itself is flanked on both sides by garudas (mythical birds) which I always used to think were related to Hinduism but as I had learned, they also apprear in Buddhist mythology.

Photo: Faces of Lokeshvara Surmounted Atop the Gate to Banteay Srei
Photo: Faces of Lokeshvara Surmounted Atop the Gate to Banteay Srei

An intriguing thing can be seen to the right of east gopura – step in that direction and focus on the carvings of Apsaras. You may notice what appears to be the bullet holes. I asked locals about it but no one had an answer for me. They certainly look like bullet holes, unless someone tried to deliberately damage the structures by hitting these carvings with sharp, pointy hand tools. If they are bullet holes, I hope they are the remnants of Khmer Rouge activities, not contemporary violence of locals residing within Angkor. Check out the video that shows the holes and judge the cause for yourself:

Once inside, I found myself walking along the cruciform terrace that’s slightly elevated above the ground and is decorated on both sides by stone statues of lions and nagas forming balustrades. As I progressed along, I paused at the few, but piquant carvings. I noticed that the towers of the galleries inside resemble those of Angkor Wat giving an impressions of mixed styles (I’m not an expert, don’t quote me on that one). Banteay Kdei also has a few spots of massive trees growing on top of ancient stones, which is a sight to behold.

There is a rectangular courtyard to the east of the central temple which may have been used as venue for Apsara performances. The exterior of the courtyard is decorated with figures of dancers and its name translates into “The Hall of the Dancing Girls”.

Photo: Duo of Dancing Apsaras at The Hall of the Dancing Girls
Photo: Duo of Dancing Apsaras at The Hall of the Dancing Girls

At the entrance to Banteay Kdei there is a sign mentioning that the preservation works on the temple are conducted with an assistance from Sophia Mission, Tokyo. Still, despite funding from Japan and some woodwork enclosing parts of the temple, most of it is unrestored. It looks and feels very ancient inside and unlike Angkor Wat or Bayon, can be enjoyed without sharing with hundreds of other tourists at the same time.

Somehow, even though Banteay Kdei is truly spectacular, most companies that provide pre-packaged tours don’t include it in their itineraries. You will see buses full of tourists drive by it at high speeds disrespecting all other traffic participants, never making a stop there. Still, because the temple is on the small circuit, it does get a fair share of visitors. Temples on the grand circuit are far more deserted with myself being the only person when I was there. If you are headed to Angkor, don’t miss out on Banteay Kdei.

More pictures of the temple are at the Banteay Kdei Photo Gallery.

Banteay Kdei Photo Gallery

The mystery surrounding Banteay Kdei temple is intriguing. Because a marker stele that would contain information about who built the temple and why has never been found, all we can do is guess. What we do know is that Banteay Kdei was constructed over a site of a smaller temple and served as a monastery for the monks during the reign of Jayavarman VII. His successor, king Jayavarman VIII vandalized Buddha images installed within during Jayavarman VII in an attempt to promote Hinduism. The photo gallery below contains pictures of Banteay Kdei I took in September 2009.