Phrom Proh and Phnom Sray

Hills of many legends

Photo of , , Kompong Cham

What we say: 3.5 stars

Between these two hilltop temples is the original location of the Kompong Cham killing fields, before monks moved many of the remains to be interred beside Wat Nokor.

Phnom Proh (Man Hill) is the smaller of the two and a paved, gently sloping road leads to its summit, while the summit of Phnom Srey (Woman Hill) is reached by a 300-plus step staircase, which is a lot steeper than it looks. Phnom Srey offers splendid views over the countryside with Kompong Cham and the Mekong easily visible, while further in the distance the rising plateau of Mondulkiri can be seen. Atop the hill there is a small temple but the whole area feels a little unkempt.

Phnom Proh is far smaller than Phnom Sray but in typical male fashion a trio of tall temples abutting each other have been built at the summit in an attempt to compensate for the hill's small size. Unlike Phnom Sray, Phnom Proh is overrun with fat monkeys and vendors will happily sell you ambulant to feed them. Phnom Proh is a popular spot to have your fortune told, though you'll need pretty good Khmer language skills to get much out of it. Phnom Proh is also more heavily trafficked by locals by the ease of its access.

Between the two hills (which are walking distance apart) there is a new garish wat, a library and a Chinese cemetery. The library has a selection of mostly Khmer books, with a particular emphasis on fortune-telling handbooks -- the curator here speaks fluent French. A sculpture garden is attached, with a large Bayon-style head, anatomically correct deer and various other temple paraphernalia. A wide range of legends surrounding the building of these two hills exist, most of which centre around the men being stupid, lazy or generally slack, thus allowing the women to build a bigger hill -- ask your motodop for his interpretation on the legend, and don't expect the same tale from any two.

Phnom Proh and Phnom Sray are around a 20-minute moto ride, 8km down National Road 7, a short distance from Wat Nokor. It is possible to ride or drive between the two hills.

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20-minute moto ride from Kompong Cham
Last updated: 8th September, 2012

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