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In the Shadow of Angkor

Travel Tale & Photos - to follow

Arriving by boat from Battambang, the first face I saw amongst the hordes of waiting moto-drivers was my pal Rieng and we resumed a friendship that I look forward to on each of my visits to Cambodia. I first met Rieng in December 2000 and his enthusiasm and infectious laugh are a big part of my time in Siem Reap. Together with his father-in-law Heng, we went temple-hunting in and around Sre Noy, Kantuot, Toap Svay and a two-day trip to Samraong as well as reuniting with his lovely family. I was also lucky enough to meet the folks who run the Shadow of Angkor guesthouse, along the riverfront near the old market, and they made my stay in Siem Reap particularly memorable. I've been searching for my home from home in Siem Reap for many years and at last I've found it. The family, headed by Seng Hour, treated me so well, including a visit to the Western Baray (and the West Mebon on the island), whilst their daughter, Kim, is absolutely adorable. I can't praise the guesthouse or the family highly enough. It was also great to catch up with my pal Heang, Dave & Colleen at the Peace of Angkor GH and to meet the legendary author Vittorio Roveda, before catching the bus to Kompong Thom for the final leg of my Cambodian adventures.

More detailed descriptions from my temple-sorties will follow, but in the meantime, my pals and I were able to locate the following sites; west of Sre Noy we located the ancient pool and the ruined temple at Wat Kouk Kandal which had been cleared of undergrowth since my visit two years earlier, whilst near Kantuot we were accompanied by the deputy commune chief as we visited Prasat Ta Nup and Prasat Ta Tuot in an area that until recently was notorious for banditry and heavily-mined. At the village of Toap Svay, we teamed up with Hum Tang, who'd been our guide a few years before, to visit Prasat Damnak Sdach, and then onto Wat Nokor Pheas and Vat Kralanh. North of Angkor Chum village we had lunch next to the Angkorean laterite bridge at Spean Thma and onto the five brick towers at Prasat Preah Phnom, where our visit attracted about half the village as onlookers. For our trip to Samraong, we called in at Rieng's parents home in the village of Prey Chrouk and stopped off at the nearby 11th centrury sandstone walled temple of Prasat Plang. At Kralanh, we took a moto to see the brick towers of Prasat Pram. On our return journey from Samraong we saw a few scattered bricks, all that was left of the seven brick sanctuaries of Prasat Pongro, three young boys guided us to the laterite tower of Prasat Prei Nokor and Prasat Chong Tin and then a return to Prasat Ta Prohm Kel and the one of the best examples of laterite bridges still remaining in Cambodia, Spean Top. At Wat Moung, we found little evidence of Kuk Balang and Prasat Lich, and 400 metres away, two large holes and many scattered bricks were the remnants of the nine brick sanctuaries of Prasat Moung. At Wat Phnom Trung Bat, near Kralanh, it wasn't ancient temples that were the attraction, it was the adorable schoolchildren who 'adopted' me en masse and made my day.

More from my Siem Reap tales soon.

17 year old Kim, daughter of the Shadow of Angkor guesthouse owners, and  an absolute star.

{Above} Kim is a real bright spark, with excellent English skills and a mischievous sense of humour behind the reception of the Shadow of Angkor guesthouse in Siem Reap.

I'm a visitor to the Pepy Ride School in Chanleas Dai on my way to Samraong {click to enlarge}.Meeting author Vittorio Roveda (right) in Siem Reap. Click to enlarge.

{Above left} The author visits the Pepy Ride School in Chanleas Dai, on the way to Samraong. {Above right} I get the opportunity to meet the legendary Khmer mythology author Vittorio Roveda in Siem Reap (right). Click to enlarge.

A lovely group of kids in a pagoda just outside Kralanh. Click to enarge.

{Above} This group of kids 'adopted' me whilst I was visiting a pagoda just outside Kralanh and we had an hour of great fun as they mimicked everything I did. # Click to enlarge.


Here's links to the rest of my Cambodia Tales

Cambodia Tales

Cambodia Tales 2

January 2006 marked my twelfth trip to Cambodia since my first-ever visit in 1994. It's a country that has a special magic all of its own and which draws me back every year to venture out into the Cambodian countryside in search of new adventures, ancient temples and to catch up with the friends I've made from previous visits. Each trip is full of laughter, smiles and a host of fresh experiences and my latest expedition was no exception.

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