- Anatole France
Enjoy a day exploring the sights of Takeo Province, cradle of the Angkorian Civilisation, by land and water. At the highest water levels at the end of the rainy season, large areas of the province are underwater - which drops to reveal paddy fields set between ancient waterways. Travel these waterways to Phnom Da and Angkor Borei, before feasting on the local "Mekong Lobster". Nearby is the longer climb up Phnom Chisor, site of a contemporary monastery and Angkorian temple, which offers views over the Mekong Delta region towards Vietnam. A tour of Takeo can be done as a day trip from Phnom Penh, or the sites can be visited on the way between Kep and Phnom Penh.
Angkor Borei is a town in the southern province of Ta Keo that contains one of the earliest pre Angkorian sites in Cambodia. It is believed to be Vyadharapura, the last capital of the Funan King Rudravarman back in the 6th century. Hang on tight for a speed boat ride through the canals, or over flooded fields, to this active archaeological site. The museum exhibits finds dating back to Neolithic times as well as Funan and Chenla artefacts.
About 3 kilometers from Angkor Borei, Phnom Da is a hill with eleventh century brick and stone Angkorian temple ruins. At the bottom of the hill, the Ashram Maha Rosei temple ruins are quite unlike any other temples in Cambodia and it resembles the temples of the same time at Java or Southern India. Also, in the slopes of the hill there sre 5 artificial caves that shelter Hindu abd Buddhist shrines, and that were used by the Viet Cong as hideouts during the Vietnam War.
While Phnom Da has a climb of over 100 steps, Phnom Chisor has a rather more daunting 440. The hilltop is the site of a modern monastery built next to an Angkorian temple built by Suryavarman I, builder of Preah Vihear, 400km to the North. More spectacular, perhaps, are the views towards the East, with steps and a causeway heading down and onwards towards modern-day Vietnam, a situation reminiscent of the site of Wat Phu Champassak in southern Laos.
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