Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear: Beng Mealea, Kor Ker, Kulen, Tbaeng Mean Chey by Motorbike

It is time for an extended weekend trip again. The plan is to ride from Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom today and meet up with Vothear and Sokhom, two friends of mine who are excellent guides for exploring the temples in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap.

The plan for tomorrow is to follow National Road 6 towards Siem Reap town for another 100 km or so, passing Stoung and Kouk Thlok Kraom on the way until we reach Dam Daek. From here, we follow the newly upgraded Road 66 to the north for about 30 km, until we reach Prasat Trapeang Noem, close to Beng Mealea (Boeng Mealea), an ancient temple. After visiting the temple we plan to proceed on what is a new road towards the northeast until via Svay Leu to Prasat Kor Ker (Kaoh Kerr, Chok Gargyar, Phnum Dai), another ancient temple, or rather, a complex of dozens of them. From here we continue on a more modest road and via an extensive detour through Trayang to Kulen (Koulen) and finally to Tbaeng Mean Chey (T’beng Meanchey), the provincial capital of Preah Vihear province, where we spend the night. The next day we return to Kampong Thom on Road 64 and from there I continue home to Phnom Penh.

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Around the Tonle Sap Lake by Car: Siem Reap, Battambang

This is one of the few occasions that I am traveling Cambodia for work rather than pleasure, together with my Cambodian colleagues around the great lake. It is the first time that I am making a trip all around the Tonle Sap Lake. I tune out work related issues here and focus instead on impressions from the road starting from Phnom Penh via Kampong Thom to Siem Reap, Battambang and back to Phnom Penh via Kampong Chnang.

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Preah Vihear Ninth Day: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: Kampong Thom

The plan for today is to travel back to Phnom Penh, which is about 310 km from here on national road via Kampong Thom. I get up at eight, have a shower and leave the guesthouse. I walk along the river for a bit and pass the market before I find a charming place at the river for breakfast.

In many ways Siem Reap is different from the rest of the country. Everybody appears to be busy, there are many tourists, most people understand English, and the city appears to be more Western and more affluent then any other place in the country. Siem Reap has a lot of appeal for Cambodians in many provinces, as it holds the promise of rapid economic and social development and immense individual opportunities that are not easily available elsewhere. There are countless luxury hotels, restaurants and bars, internet places and souvenir shops. As well as hospitals and schools. Other than Phnom Penh this is the only other truly urban place I know of in Cambodia.
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Preah Vihear Eighths Days: Anlong Veng to Siem Reap. Otdar Mean Chey, Anlong Veng, Pol Pot’s grave and former residence, Ta Mok’s former residence, Banteay Srey

Next day I get up at seven and go to the restaurant again to have breakfast. The plan is to spend some hours around Anlong Veng, to visit the relevant Khmer Rouge places. In the afternoon I want to leave Anlong Veng and ride to Siem Reap provincial capital, which is about 200 km from here.

After breakfast I kick of with the owner of the restaurant. We go with my bike. By now I don’t mind taking people on my bike. Everybody does. First we visit the local tourism office. The door is open but nobody is here. We find a name card and I call the guy. I learn that he is in the mountains right now, taking pictures for the provincial department of tourism’s homepage. He suggests we ride up the mountain and meet him there.

And this is what we do. Maybe for about 10 km we follow the main road to the north, which is broad and easy to ride. This changes when we reach the bottom of the mountain. Some distances are pretty steep. Others are covered with rocks or sand. However, it is not too steep and I even enjoy the rough road.
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Preah Vihear Fifth Day (Christmas Eve): Khvav, Sraryang Village, Prasat Kaoh Ker (Koh Ker), Choam Khsant

We get up at about 7 am and following some breakfast we head of. Vothear is convinced we can make it all the way to Choam Khsant but I remain skeptical. As soon as we leave Khvav to the north the dirt road turns into oxcart trails again.

We continue riding those trails. First we pass sandy stretches through open landscape. Later we ride through dense forest forcing us to duck from the branches of trees and follow the tight turns of the trail. We do not think of having breaks, as we want to catch up with the initial schedule.
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Preah Vihear Fourth Day: Prasat Domrei, Khvav Village, Kampong Kdei

It is at about 4 am when cocks start their noisy business. The village is getting busy when it is still dark. We get up at about 7 am and have breakfast, fish and rice, which is tasty.

Later we head out to see another temple of the Prasat Bakan complex, Prasat Domrei (temple of the elephants). Vanna and his friend give us company and the four of us ride on two motos. Vanna is traveling with Vothear and it is actually the first time I am not alone on my moto. I felt I do not want to risk other people’s health or live. However, it turns out not to be too difficult, although the road is pretty rough and sandy. After about 20 minutes we arrive at the temple, which is located at a beautiful lake. This is the first pyramid shaped temple I see.
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One Day Temples in Siem Reap – Part One: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Terrace of Elephants, Baphuon

What follows is my report about just one day I spend in Siem Reap exploring the temples. I am sure there is plenty of information out there, since this is the tourist destination number one in Cambodia. So I do not try to give long explanations about history which would only expose my ignorance. What I think I can deliver is my personal and unscientific account and a number of pictures which reflect my personal encounter with the temples.
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From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by motor bike: Skun, Kompong Thom

This is the last weekend before I go back to Germany. I did not have much vacation so far and manage to get a day off on Monday. I always wanted to travel to Siem Reap and to see Angkor Wat but unfortunately I did not yet get the chance to go. So I thought better one day in Siem Reap than not at all.

I have planned to go to Siem Reap by moto for quite some time. And I have tried to find somebody to give me company. However, I did not find anybody who had both time and interest to go. After all, it is a distance of about 350 km one way.

So I decide to go on my own. The plan is to leave Saturday early in Phnom Penh in order to arrive in Siem Reap early enough to buy the ticket and see the sunset. The next day would be dedicated to visit the temples. And on Monday I would have to travel back early enough to go to work on Tuesday again.

Saturday I get of at about 8 am and go to riverside to have breakfast. This picture is taken from the restaurant at the Mekong River, which is in the background.


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