Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham, Wat Nokor

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.

5 thoughts on “Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham, Wat Nokor”

  1. Stefan,
    I have read all of your travel logs from Frankfurt to Thailand to Cambodia.
    The ones on Cambodia are very interesting. I am interested in early Khmer civilization and it is very difficult to find places like Ba Phnom, Phnom Da, Phnom Chisor, Vat Nokor and Vat Hanchey on the map even when their approximate locations are known. Your logs not only locate them exactly but give precise directions to reach them.
    I hope you can do the same for other places like Sambor Prei Kuk, Prasat Andet, Sambor on Mekong and later for places in the greater Angkor area that are of great historic importance but hard to find on the map when one is 10,000 miles away from Cambodia.
    Let me know if you have those travel logs uploaded on your site.
    I plan on visiting Phnom Penh and Angkor (time permitting) sometime early next year. So these logs really help.
    Thank you and best of luck.
    Joy Sen

  2. I have a ca. 1930 black/white original photograph with caption: “Old Bridge At Pnom Pehn, Indochina taken by Stetson Hindes, an American owner of The San Francisco Bridge Building Co. with extensive world wide constructions.
    Question: Does the bridge still exist? Exactly where was it located?. Thanks, Ada

  3. hi stefan,
    ur pics made me forget office and just take off to angkor wot. planning to go there during chinese new year (28th Jan onwards).
    can u tell me how to reach angkor vat from phnom penh? i’ll be travelling from Hong Kong via Bangkok on 27th. Should i arrive at Siem Riep or Phnom Penh? please advice if u have the time on how i should see it.
    thanx a ton mate

  4. Hi Stefan:
    Your this blog on Kampong Cham – Wat nokor gave me very useful information.
    Wat means temple in Thai language and so too in Cambodian language-I think.
    Nokor possibly refers to a city that once flourished there. The architecture of the
    temple and their design is so very Hindu by design and style. Were the Chams
    migrated to this part of Cambodia during their historic sout-ward movement from
    Central Vietnam ? Is that the reason why the Cambodians still call it Kampong Cham?
    Your blogs provides the miissing link in my train of thoughts. I wish to know how
    far is this Kampong Cham from Champassak of Southern Laos.? Have you been
    to Champassak? You can perhaps visit Champassak by the river from Kampong
    Cham. Can anyone tell me more on ths.

Leave a Reply