Kampot to Phnom Penh via Kep, Takeo and Phnom Chissor

The plan for today is to ride from Kampot to Phnom Penh via Kep, and to visit Phnom Chissor (Phnom Chissor, Phnom Chisor, Phnom Chi Sou) in Takeo Province on the way. It is raining heavily by the time we get up. Distance and road are not a big deal but the prospect of doing this trip in strong rain is unpleasant. It keeps raining while we have extensive breakfast.

The rain has gotten somewhat weaker by the time we finish breakfast. We decide to head to the bike shop to pick up Uwe’s moto, and to proceed to Phnom Penh via Kep on Roads 33, 31 and 3.

As soon as we leave the guesthouse we realize that most of the road is submerged in massive amounts of water. We pass the market and ride along its full length through deep water. It does not get much better on the main road and even most of the road around the main traffic circle is flooded.

Fortunately, the rain has almost stopped by the time we reach the moto shop. The guys have done their job early in the morning and Uwe’s bike is ready. We pay a modest amount and leave, first towards Kep and then north towards Phnom Penh. The skies continue to be clouded but as time goes by the weather keeps getting brighter.

Uwe in full rain gear.

Myself in full rain gear, in front of the moto repair shop.

Along roads 33 and 31. Those roads are very new, very wide, in excellent condition and there really is not much traffic compared to the alternative National Road 3.

We follow this road until it merges with National Road where we fill up the bikes. After a short break we follow National Road 3 for another 10 or 15 km, until we reach a bigger settlement from which Takeo can be reached via 10 km of somewhat bumpy secondary road. We follow this road to the east until we almost arrive in Takeo town. We take a turn left and continue on National Road 2 for another 30 or 35 km north. This is when we reach a place with a dirt road on our right hand (we are coming from the south) and a small market on our left hand. The dirt road leads to Phnom Chissor, which is located about 5 km from here. I have made pictures of the place on an earlier trip.

Impressive, 11th century temple ruins can be visited here, much of it on top of a mountain that offers magnificent views into almost all directions.

We park the bikes at the bottom of the mountains, have a seat at one of the footstalls and enjoy a soft drink. Soon enough a bunch of local children emerges and many of them attempt to engage us in all kinds of conversations.

After some time a lady arrives with a big bowl full of boiled corn which she offers at a very cheap price. We decide to buy one for each of us and one for each of the children, too, so as to feel better about eating in their presence. Then we order chicken with rice to be prepared while we visit the temple on top of the mountain.

The whole crowed of children follows us when we start climbing the stairs, maybe partly because we supplied the corn and may continue to supply other things. It turns out to be an exhausting exercise to climb these stairs in the heat of the day, however more so for us than for the children.

We reach a small gate at about half the way to the top up the hill. We stop for a short break to enjoy the shadow. The children use the time to enthusiastically sing songs.

There is a modern style temple slightly off the main way to the right once you reached the top. There is a good view from over the surrounding landscape.

From here we walk over the few hundred meters to the area where the ruins of an ancient temple are located. On the way we pass the booth where a man collects the substantial entrance fee for foreigners. It would not be Cambodia if he would not offer entry at half the price without a ticket, an offer that we refuse.

The children are still with us and bring this snake to our attention.

They are also kind enough to take some pictures of us.

In fact they take a lot of interest in the cameras and consequently, quite a number of pictures.

This temple is part of a bigger complex, and aligned with the remains of other ancient structures at the bottom of the mountain.

Above the gate.

Inscription at the gate.

Inside the gallery.

We have numerous company throughout our stay.

We are already on our way back when the kids spot some monkeys.

The children give us company all the way back down to the bottom of the mountain. It becomes increasingly clear that they expect some sort of compensation for their efforts. Luckily, we meet two monks at the bottom of the mountain and consult with them on what amount is a reasonable contribution and on how to ensure fair distribution among the children. The monks are extremely helpful, even changing our money into smaller notes and distributing them to the youngsters.

We enjoy the food that was prepared for us at the bottom of the mountain.

Then we get on the bikes and ride straight back to Phnom Penh where we reach when it is almost dark.

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