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Published: January 4th 2017
When randomly looking through a guide book we picked out this temple as a crazy adventure. The more we looked into it, the harder it appeared to be to get there, the more exciting it seemed.
We left our main bags at the hostel in Siem Reap, and packed small bags to take with us. We hired a scooter for $9 per day, charged our phones for satnav (Thankfully it's the 21st
century!) and set off for Anlong Veng where we would spend a night before setting off for the temple.
It didn't take long before we were clearly in a part of the country that doesn't get many foreign visitors. Back to being curiously stared at and children waving as we drove past.
Along the way we drove past a really small, poor village and decided to see if we could have a look. As always in my experience, the people with the least were willing to share their village with us.
A woman smiled and squeezed Linda's hand as we entered the village, which we took as permission to enter further. The village was made up of little wooden huts with thatched roofs and surrounded by farmland. There was a water pump that had been provided by the German government and not much else.
As we wandered down the main street we heard a voice shouting “hello”...we turned and a man appeared from between some banana plants, carrying sugar-cane and bananas.
He gestured for us to sit on his porch, all the while smiling. He disappeared momentarily, and returned with a machete and began removing the “skin” from the sugar-cane.
After attempting to speak some English and Korean with us and refusing our offer of $1 for the bananas and sugar-cane we continued on our way, humbled and in awe of the kindness of these people.
When we arrived in Anlong Veng we checked a few guest houses and picked “new lucky star”. THE nicest place I've ever stayed in Asia, with A/C for $12.
There wasn't much going on in the town itself, except for some mean fried chicken!
After an early night we set off in the direction of the temple, another 90km onwards.
Everyone told us that we'd have to leave the scooter at the bottom of the mountain and find another way up because the scooter wouldn't be powerful enough to reach the top. We decided to ignore the advice and make an attempt. Our little beauty made it to the top no problems! 125Cc and didn't even struggle...bearing in mind it was so steep at one point I started to slide backwards off the seat!
The temple itself was $10 entry, and worth it. Built in the same style as the temples at Angkor...or I should say the temples at Angkor were build in the same style as Preah Vihear because it's way older.
Ancient civilisations have stories of giants walking the earth in the past, and it's easy to imagine why when you see a structure like this. Everything was the same as Angkor, but on a much grander scale.
Situated on what much be Cambodia's only mountains (We barely saw so much as a hill anywhere else!) the view can only be described as magnificent! You could pretty much see border to border to coast, the whole of Cambodia.
That afternoon we headed for Preah Vihear city, some 150+km away. We arrived in the dark and finding a guest house proved to be a little harder than Anlong Veng. Whereas in Anlong it seemed like no one else was staying there, in Preah Vihear the first few places were fully booked.
We eventually found somewhere in our price range, and went to check out the room. The moment the door opened we were greeted by a monstrous spider crawling along the wall opposite! The hotel manager attempted to clear it by hitting it with a broom, but the spider escaped...never to be seen again.
Needless to say we didn't stay in that room and instead were put in a better room for the same price.
The next day we went back to Siem Reap. The thing that struck us the most about our little adventure was how empty the country seemed to be. Miles went by without seeing a village or town, and when you did, they were usually almost like ghost towns. Maybe it's just a small population, or it could be something to do with the genocide...
After seeing Thailand from atop the mountain I spontaneously decided to go to Thailand for the remainder of my trip, to check out Pai in the north. But first...Christmas in Bangkok!
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