Just over 125km north of Siem Reap, along the N67, Anlong Veng is many things: a frontier town, a crossroads, the last refuge of the Khmer Rouge and stage for the final resting place of its notorious leader, Pol Pot. It’s also pretty quiet.
There is really not a great deal going on in the centre of town, which consists mainly of the roads that were built to take you somewhere else, but there is an incredibly eerie man-made lake, from which the naked remains of dozens of trees poke like fractured bones. It sits aside the road heading north to Choam on the border with Thailand, and makes for interesting photo opportunities.
Just as you pass the lake, you’ll find an old house which used to belong to Ta Mok, a Khmer Rouge general who was otherwise known as ‘The Butcher’. You can go in and walk around the house, where not much remains other than empty rooms. Modern day soldiers are sometimes slung about the place not doing much, and you’ll also find Pol Pot’s old mobile radio station, parked as though abandoned in the middle of a clearing. There is little here to give away the story of the man responsible for some of the Khmer Rouge’s most ‘efficient’ purges.
Following this road further north takes you to Choam, on the border with Thailand. Here you’ll find Pol Pot’s grave just off the right side of the road. There is an unassuming sign, which will direct you to the thoroughly underwhelming site. It’s impossible really to say what the grave of a monster should look like, but few would imagine a small rectangular plot shadowed by a rusted, corrugated tin roof held up by a couple of tired planks of wood. It is kind of freaky to note though that people are clearly still making offerings at the grave site.
If you follow this road, though a seriously Mad Maxish little village and continue west along a sandy road, you’ll finally reach another one of Ta Mok’s houses, which sits on a bluff overlooking Cambodia from where it almost feels as though you might be able to see the sea on a clear day. You actually can see all the way to Phnom Kulen, on a clear day, and the spectacular views make this a worthwhile hang-out for a night or evening. The house has been converted into a guest house and there are numerous “chalets” that you can rent to stay in. These are not salubrious by any stretch of the imagination, and the time that we stayed there, they switched the electricity off at 10. Make sure you have mosquito repellent and a torch if you’re planning on staying (which we’d thoroughly recommend).
Back in Anlong Veng, there is little in the way of accommodation. The Monorom is probably the largest and has clean, serviceable rooms for $8 (fan) and $15 (air-con). On the opposite side of the road from the Monorom, and slightly south, there is a good open-fronted restaurant that serves up local food, soups, noodles and rice dishes, that are as good as anything you’ll find anywhere else.
There is a daily bus service between Siem Reap and Along Veng, which can be booked through a tour operator in Siem Reap, and should cost about $6. Or you could hire a taxi, which should cost about $40 each way. Within Along Veng and its surrounds, you can hire motodops, some of which may speak a little English.
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Get into town, rest up, then head down to one of the restaurants near the late for a bite to eat -- if you've come from Siem Reap you'll be arriving early afternoon we'd guess. Come the next day get a motodop to take you up to explore Pol Pot and Ta Mok's digs -- the views are as stunning as Pol Pot's basement is creepy.
Text and/or map last updated on 6th March, 2015.
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