My friend Sok Ny gets married this weekend in Kampong Cham and invited me on the occasion of this event to join in the celebration. I decide to attend on Sunday and visit a number of places in around Kampong Cham town on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
Today I just want to travel to Kampong Cham, which is about 129km from Phnom Penh, check in at some accommodation and visit Wat Nokor (Angkor Bahjay) before it is dark.
I leave shortly after lunch. After only about half an hour it starts looking rainy and indeed it does start raining, although not very strong. I stop at a gas station and wait at one of the footstalls for the rain to stop.
This is the road to Kampong Cham, which is pretty good throughout. Yellow boxes like the one upfront can be found everywhere in Cambodia. They are used to store and cool soft drinks and wherever you see such a box you know you can find refreshment.
I have a drink and a smoke and after 15 minutes it stops raining and I continue.
Only ten minutes later it starts raining again and the rain gets stronger quickly. I am on some sort of bridge and take some pictures before I ride back to find cover under the house of a young family next to the road.
This is the family that generously extents the cover of their house to me.
This is the bridge next to the house. Rain is getting weaker already.
I continue the trip. The sky is covered with clouds and I see rain and sometimes a rainbow but I do not get wet until I reach Kampong Cham town. I go straight to the Kimsrun (Kim Srun) guesthouse where I have spent the night before on the way to Mondulkiri. Last time I came here I was with my friend Pongro. Back then, Pongro went with an employee of the guesthouse on a short tour in the evening when they had an accident and got hurt.
When I arrive at the guesthouse I meet the same guy again. He does not recognize me and I do not manage to explain to him that we met before and that he got hurt on this occasion. I get a simple room for $3. The room is very basic and not very clean. A wide range of different insects is all over the place. In fact I think last time I had the very same room and it seemed ok but now I do not find it very appealing.
This is the view from the guesthouse balcony on the Japanese Bridge over the Mekong River.
It may not appear as big as it actually is. This is the bottom part of just one of the pillars supporting the bridge, with a fisher boat next to it.
This is an observation tower on the other side of the Mekong, built during the French colonial rule to monitor traffic on the river. Last time I saw it was in bad shape, just the outer walls standing with trees growing out of the roof. Now the tower looks much better and seems to be under renovation.
Anyway, I have a shower and head with the bike to Wat Nokor, which is very few kilometres outside Kampong Cham town on the way to Phnom Penh.
This is the gate of the 11th century temple, inside the outer walls of the compound of Wat Nokor.
There are beautiful carvings on the inner side of the gate. The gate is prevented from collapsing by a number of concrete pillars.
This is the gate to the central sanctum, with some statues in front of it.
This is the central sanctum which was devoted to Mahayana Buddhism. It is not in a very good shape, but the structure and some of the carvings are intact.
The roof of the building and its walls are collapsed and instead a pagoda was built in its place, with old and new structures adding to an interesting blend. This is inside.
This is the backside, with most of the building and many carvings in a pretty good shape.
Bizarrely, I find this corps attached to one of the walls. It looks like a bat to me, and somewhat crucified.
This is the gate at the back side.
Tall palms line the path leading to it.
The temple is located at the centre of a compound with considerable proportions, with many religious monuments and accommodation for a substantial number of monks. This is one of the ponds on the compound, obviously not of ancient origin but fairly new and mostly made of concrete.
This is yet another gate of the original temple. In the background is the roof of the modern pagoda that was integrated with what remains of the ancient structures of the central sanctum.
This is another pond, or rather what remains of its ancient structure.
There is also a modern pagoda among the many buildings on the compound.
Then I ride back to Kampong Cham town. There is still some sunlight left and I ride for some time along the bank of the Mekong.
The water of the river appears pretty low, with huge stretches of sand exposed along its banks.
There is a huge island in the river. There is not much water on either side of it. People built a temporary bridge across one of them on the northern bank of the river.
For some time I observe what is going on. Then I head back to the town, have diner and ride back to the guesthouse.
Lying on my bed I do some reading in the evening. This is an irritating experience, because I observe all kinds of insects, small and big, appearing from under the mattress and walking all over it. I decide to find a better accommodation when I come here again.