What we say:
About 10 kilometres south of town off National Road 6
This hilltop pagoda with an active monastery embodies both the good and bad of modern Cambodian culture. It has a beautiful view from the top of the wat, as well has friendly English monks keen to have a chat as well as Cambodian teens interested in practising the English skills they learn in school. It also has kitschy statues of poor quality located along the 980-step path to the top of the hill, as well as an abundance of elderly and child beggars whose requests can become a bit relentless.
It's 810 steps to the top, and some portions are quite steep so prepared to feel a little out of breath when you arrive at the peak. Steps are tile and must have been built in the relative recent past, with small, cement figurines of humans lining up along either side. There are a few places to stop and look along the way, namely a couple Buddha statues built into rocks and an outcropping offering a lovely view.
At the top is a main, gilded pagoda with white walls covered in Khmer script, and surrounded by a series of figurines and small temples. There was a lot of construction going on when we visited in August 2009. Several curved cement bridges connect various small, cement temples and statues of people, horses, and gods. There's a large UFO-looking structure rising up from the main lookout point with a statue of a man -- we were told by locals it's supposed to be King-father Sihanouk in his youth. Macaques, as with most Khmer pagodas, wander lazily around the grounds, sifting for crumbs through rubbish left behind. Nothing -- beside the views -- is picturesque, but it's a popular spot for Cambodian's and an opportunity to do-as-the-locals in Kompong Thom.
More detailsHow to get there: A round-trip motorbike ride from Kompong Thom should cost about US$4.
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