Ngin and Nicola’s Temple Hunting Saturday Morning Adventure
An essential Large Little Red Fox latte while Loklak snapped at a French lady then into Panya’s tuktuk for the journey to Phnom Bok.
Panya had the unnecessary ability to find every pothole on the admittedly disintegrating road to Pradark. At Phnom Bok we were greeted with an after party dance party. A wall of speakers sent a reverberating thud up the mountain as we set off through the forest in search of temples.
Loklak checking out the temple trail
It was hot work chasing temples in the woods so Loklak, who remembered the trail from his walk with Emma charged off to the lake on the other side and was splashing amongst the lotus leaves by the time we arrived.
The road runs along a raised bank beside the lake, which suggests it was an Angkorian reservoir. Half way through April and about as dry as it gets, it had shrunk to a quarter of its rainy season area. Manus suggested kayaking when it is full.
Manus framed by Phnom Bok and it’s lake
It wasn’t very difficult there was a sign but Manus was very proud to have seen it and to be fair Buntha and I had passed by many times oblivious to the little temple that lay about fifty meters from the road
We crossed the empty but still green moat to a central mound and three laterite towers with a looted lintel over a door way.
Apparently the moat wasn’t completely empty, Loklak found a muddy wallow and ran out the same colour as a wet water buffalo then rolled in the sand and became a fantastical creature out of an Angkorian legend.
A sugar palm juice collector had two full pots suspended from a pole over his shoulder and wet jeans so low you could almost see his linga.
The poor village of Pum Samre near Banteay Samre where a small boy sat on an oxcart and asked for a hopeful dollar.
Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves and sugar palm juice at the little market. Manus knew the sugar palm join seller, they’d been in a movie together. I’m waiting for it to make the multiplex in Phnom Penh.
Bigger houses and taller trees on the other side of the East Baray, pineapples growing in the filtered sunlight.
Loklak was getting hot and with a loud sigh punctuating his panting collapsed in each thicket of shade we passed.
Chinese New Year Flower
We turned left instead of right to find the temple Mr Heng our taxi driver had told me about. In front of us lay baking brown rice paddy’s on what felt like the hottest day of the year. A welcome relief when we entered the gloom under the tall trees near Wat Pradark and a spooky trail between burial mounds strewn with forlorn streamers.
A boy monk told us where the temple actually was but first the pagoda pool for another Loklak wallow watched by a frog on a lotus leaf.
A lady wrapped in a wet kroma pointed to the temple and in the hundred degree heat we came upon the archeological excavation of Prasat Kamnap. Stepped trenches showed the extent of the structure but gave no secrets away such as why was it buried?
We stopped at a stall for Loklak to slurp water from Manus’s cupped hands but that didn’t last long so Loklak beyond caring got carted like a sack of rice until we left the hot red earth road.
We followed a path under tall sugar palm trees between paddy fields until we came on a woman sluicing herself under a pump. Manus asked if he could sluice Loklak instead and ladled water over the hot dog.
Our final obstacle was a belt of thick vegetation around the West Baray where Panya might be waiting, and our lunch of road kill chicken, rice and most currently appealing cold Cambodia beer.
Ripping my scalp on a projecting thorn we made it through for Loklak with a last gasp to get to the muddy waters of the shrinking baray where he sat with an expression of ‘no more’ across his face.
Something was not quite right? A tough countryside dog gasping his way through a Saturday morning stroll, while the only concern of the admittedly sweat soaked barang was a cold beer. Manus of course was oblivious to the exercise and played games on his phone.
He went to find our lunch while Loklak and I sat amongst the post Khmer New Year debris on the banks of the baray and watched the buffalo bathe. Or at least I did, Loklak had summoned up enough energy to steal a fish head from a small boy then growled when the boy tried to get it back. He ran screaming to his daddy and I looked the other way.
Indochine Exploration would love to take you on a hiking or cycling temple discovery adventure along the paths described in this blog