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Prasat Khna - a real gem

Travel Tale & Photos - to follow

I was convinced that a large Angkorean temple, known variously as Prasat Khna and Prasat Noureay, was waiting to be exposed, lying somewhere in the substantial forested area midway between the northern outpost towns of Tbeng Meanchey and Choam Khsan. The moto-drivers at the main petrol station in Tbeng Meanchey weren't aware of it, and nor were the few people in Choam Khsan who knew anything about the ruined temples that are scattered across the province of Preah Vihear. So it was a case of Sokhom and myself would have to suss it out for ourselves. As it turned out, my hunch was spot-on and Prasat Khna is a real gem of a temple, most likely built in the tenth century under the reign of King Rajendravarman II (known as the Pre Rup style period) and lying a few kilometres off the old road between the two major towns, near a tiny village called Kalapia.

We stopped at the village and were guided to the site by Toun Sokheng, a widow who'd been employed by the authorities to clear the temple of undergrowth four years earlier but had never been paid. She turned out to be as much of a gem as the temple itself and if you visit this area, you must stop and meet her. Toun knows where the best lintel carvings are located at the temple, which is still tricky to visit despite her best efforts, as the site is a ruin though several towers and sanctuaries are still standing, but the undergrowth and broken stones hidden underfoot can be treacherous, so be warned. I felt the site was comparable to Prasat Preah Neak Buos, a complex I'd visited in 2003, and I'm sure there's more to discover once the undergrowth is cut back further. There's a second temple called Prasat Chieng Meng, a few kilometres further into the forest, which we trekked to but is not as exciting a discovery as Prasat Khna.

If you like your temple exploration to be considerably tougher than visiting Angkor, then I recommend sites like Prasat Khna, Prasat Preah Neak Buos and others, which should satisfy your desire for adventure. The full story of my visit to Prasat Khna will follow soon.

A brick library in the south-east corner of the Prasat Khna complex {click to enlarge}Toun Sokheng and the author take a breather on the way home for lunch {click to enlarge}

{Above left} A brick library in the south-east corner of the Prasat Khna complex, where a lot of vegetation has been cleared. {right} The author with Toun Sokheng, complete with knife and firewood, on our return to her home for lunch. # Click to enlarge.

Sokhom inspects a wall carving at Prasat Khna, where the foliage is running rampant. Click to enlarge.

{Above} Sokhom inspects a carving on the wall of a ruined sandstone monument at Prasat Khna. As you can see, the undergrowth is trying to reclaim the temple as its own. # 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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