Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 13 ... Kulen Mountain

Over our last two visits we have visited most of the major tourist sites around Siem Reap.  We decided to take a visit it Phnom Kulen,  sacred mountain to the Khmers and source of the rock used to build Angkor Wat and the other nearby temples.

Suwan picked us up about 9am and after buying our entry tickets (it’s not covered by the Angkor pass and costs $20/person since a ‘businessman’ bulldozed a road and now has the concession on the ‘toll’) headed out of the city.  The private road is in poor condition and it is quite obvious that none of our entry money is allocated to upkeep of the road.   Spectacular views on the way up.  First stop was the river where hundreds of lingas (phallic symbols) have been carved into the rock.  The water was shallow enough to see the carvings.

On then to the temple complex on the top of the mountain.  A huge reclining Buddha has been carved into the rock and people from all over Cambodia make pilgrimages here.  Sadly, once again we had to run the gauntlet of the beggars on the way up.  Fantastic views.

Then Suwan lead us (with the aid of one of the local kids) on a walk round the top of the mountain, past a cave where the monks live, another cave that was used by the KR during the fierce fighting in the area, and back to the village below the temple.

The waterfall was next on the agenda, and we decided to walk through the village rather than take the car.  There are some Angkor era temples in a very damaged state, but the waterfall was really impressive.  A shallow area above the first fall was where the local kids swam (clothed or not!)   Then another wide but not high fall and finally a steep descent down some very rickety stairs to the base of the big falls.  Very impressive and many people enjoying the water.

We had lunch at one of the little restaurants at the top before returning to Siem Reap about 4pm.

We had hoped Kim would be well enough to join us for dinner but she was not feeling up to it.  So it was just 4 of us, Suwan and Rithika and Tony and me.  We decided to eat in Pub St and it turns out Rithika had never eaten in a restaurant, and never been in Pub St.   

Ice cream and coffee at Blue Pumpkin ended a lovely day.  Back at the Antenue, we said our goodbyes to Suwan and Rithkia and tomorrow we’re off to Battambong.
If you're thinking of visiting Siem Reap and need a wonderful driver, you can't go past Suwan.  You can contact him at

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