Pre-Ankorian capital city of Kompong Thom
You won’t see crowds of tourists in Kompong Thom. When our bus stopped there for a break and we told the driver that we needed our luggage as we were staying for a night, I’m sure he was laughing behind our back.But it’s actually not SO crazy to make a stop here. The most exciting thing that this town has to offer, are the hunderds of large fruit bats living in 3 old mahogany trees. If you have problems finding the trees, just follow the high sound that the bats are making. Wait till dusk, when you can see them flying off in search of food.
But we came to Kompong Thom for some other unique sights. We came here for the pre-Ankorian temples such as Sambor Prei Kuk and Phnom Santuk. On our motorbike we drove through the countryside passing some local kids and hard working man and women.
The 7th century temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk consists of more than 100 mainly brick temples scattered through the forest. You could wander around yourself but If you do that I’m sure you’ll miss out many of the best preserved temples and even get lost in it. We met up with a Greek couple on the spot and decided to go for one of the official guides that was offering his service. ‘we hebben het ons niet beklaagd’We were, at the same time, during the whole tour, accompanied by a group of children selling colourful scarfs and warning us for every piece of stone or ‘uitstekende’ tree root to prevent you from smashing the ground. At the end we, of course, bought some of the scarfs.. It was nice to stroll around in the forest, absorbing the first architectural wonders of Cambodia. Without any tourists around, it had a nice serene and soothing atmosphere.
Phnom Santuk is another important temple in this area. While climbing the 809 stairs to the pagoda, you’ll be awaited by troupes of monkeys. Once upstairs, we especially liked the interaction with the novice monks and children.
Kompong Thom is on the list to become a World Heritage Site, so best go now, before busses of tourists find it! And then a little extra that I want to share with my Cantonese speaking friends and family. :-)Khmer people like HK, at least their movies and series!