Driving to Sambor Prei Kuk in Kampong Thom

Trip Start Dec 17, 2011
Trip End Jan 08, 2012

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What I did
Sambor Prei Kuk temple

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Monday, December 19, 2011

Leaving Phnom Penh we drove north at the 6th national road towards to Kampong Thom. On the way to Kampong Thom we stopped to see and taste black fried spiders.  Our driver drove us to the Sambor Prei Kuk complex of pre-Angkorian ancient ruins but we had to explore them by ourselves. A local guide offered to guide us around the ruins but he asked for a lot of money to do the job and I kindly denied the offer. There were no other alternatives to explore the territory with guidance. Except ... a group of kind young children (aged from 4 to 12) that followed us and kindly advised us about each building. It was the most entertaining and enthusiastic company I've ever had making our tour really an enjoy. They could only speak some  English  phrases that they certainly had learnt from the local guides.  

Sambor Prei Kuk is a collection of 7th century temple ruins located in Kampong Thom province about 120km from Siem Reap town. Consisting of dozens of impressive brick prasats in semi-cleared jungle, many ruins displaying excellent examples of early Khmer art, this pre-Angkorian complex is a important destination for the serious temple visitor.Sambor Prei Kuk are the ruins of the city of Isanapura, the capital of the pre-Angkorian Khmer kingdom known from Chinese chronicles as Zhendla (Chenla.) The city was constructed by Isanavarman I (r. 616 - 635AD) when Zhendla was at its apex more than 150 years before the rise of Angkor. There are three main complexes: Preah Sambor/North Group;Preah Tor (‘Lion Temple’)/Central GroupPreah Yeay Poun/South Group as well as a number of minor ruins. The main temple complexes are walled, containing a number of prasats in differing states of ruin. Some of the carvings on the prasats’ lintels, columns and pilasters are in very good shape and display wonderfully detailed examples of pre-Angkorian artistry. Large bas-reliefs rendered in brick on the prasats and compound walls represent some of the earliest use of this art form in Khmer art. Octagon shaped prasats are another comparatively unique architectural feature found atSambor Prei Kuk. Ruin N7 in the North Group and several of the structures in the South Group are octagonal and in relatively good condition. We begun our tour from Prasat Sambor (North Group), continued with Prasat Yeah Puon (South Group) and we ended up to Prasat Tor (Central Group) with the well preserved Lion Temple. Some tree roots were over the ground and made our exploration a really tough task.    

Sambor Prei Kuk can be visited in a day trip from Siem Reap or Phnom Penh or, if your transportation allows, in a stop over on the road trip (National Route #6) between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The ruins are about 35km/50 minutes outside of Kampong Thom town (hotel and restaurants available in town.) There is a good dirt road to the ruins from Kampong Thom and one small refreshment stand at the complex.

Our driver was eating his meal when we ended our exploration and we joined him. Our company stopped following us and looked as they gently helped some tourists to explore their territory. Helena saw their satisfying smile when they gave them some gifts. We were really touched by their innocent smiles and their kindness.  After taking our lunch (which was prepared from Phnom Penh) we got into the car on our way to Siem Reap. The kids were greeting us as long as the car got the route to Siem Reap but I could never forget their smiles and the young girl's voice who was standing by me all the way. " Hey mister ... be careful the roots!!!"     
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