About 40 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh along National Route 5, a mountain topped with the spires of stupas rears from the plain like a fairytale castle. This is Phnom Oudong, at one time an ancient capital.
As the capital, it was called Oudong Meanchey; Oudong means noble or excellent, and MeancheyKandal-1 means victory. From 1618 until 1866 it was home to a succession of kings, deposed from the former capital of Longvek by the invading Thais. The mountain itself runs from southeast to northeast, with a low saddle in the middle. Khmers say it has the shape of a Naga the magical multi-headed serpents that guard the Buddha. Along Route 5, signs point the way to silversmithing villages, a legacy of the past when kings and nobility used to come to the Tonle Sap to bathe and the people would offer them delicate gifts fashioned from the precious metal. Turn left at the large billboard, and at the very base of the mountain is a flurry of picnic huts. On weekends, hordes of people descend on the area from Phnom Penh to eat roast chicken, fish and palm fruit in the cool of the thick forest. At the base of the mountain near the path, a memorial containing bones of some of the hundreds of bodies exhumed from a large Khmer Rouge killing field here has been built testament to the area’s bloody past. Stairs to the left lead to a huge, shattered statue of Buddha, the feet almost the only part still intact. On the path up the mountain to the right, the stairs climb steeply and a large structure rises on the left. Inside, huge pillars stand underneath sky, and in between their bullet-strafed skeletons, a statue of Buddha sits, only his right arm and shoulder still intact from the ravages of aerial bombings and shelling that shook Oudong from 1970 onwards. The Khmer Rouge finished the job in 1977, setting explosives inside the temple. This is Arthross Temple (Temple of Eight Points), and legend has it that the Buddha here, facing north instead of the traditional direction of east, is a testimony to the strength and power of the ancient Cambodian kingdom.
In the 18th century, locals say, a Chinese king sent his people out across Asia to identify potential threats. When they came to Oudong, they saw the mountain shaped like a Naga, a cavern on top of the Arthross end, and observed the wealth and power of Khmer society. They went home and told their king that the Khmers were already a powerful race, and should a Naga appear through the cavern of Arthross, they would be strong enough to rule the world.
Kandal-2The Chinese king did not want this, nor did he want a war. Instead, he asked the Khmer king if he could build a temple above the cavern, with the Buddha facing towards China in order to protect his kingdom. This was named Arthaross temple (Arthaross means 18 corners) because there are 18 points, or corners, built into the structure of the temple. This temple also once stood 18 hats high a Khmer measurement the length of an arm from elbow to fingertips. One hat is about half a meter. Behind Arthross is Chker Amao stupa. Chker Amao was the dog of the head monk of Preah Sokhun Mean Bon. He was reportedly so remarkably clever that the monk could send him shopping with a list tied to his collar and the faithful dog would walk from market stall to market stall, collect the shopping, and then bring it home. When he died he was reincarnated as the son of a Chinese king. The young prince began to get terrible headaches, and the court astrologer diagnosed the problem as the roots of the bamboo growing across the dog Amao’s head in his Oudong grave. The king sent his people to Cambodia to cut the roots of the bamboo and build the temple that became Chkeri Amao Temple to consecrate the spot. As the ridge meanders northeast, three small viharas Vihear Preah Ko (Sacred Cow), Vihear Preah Keo (Sacred Precious Stone) and Vihear Prak Neak (The Buddha Protected by a Naga) have been restored and feature a statue of the sacred cow, glittering golden Buddhas and vibrant murals. The invading Thais took the original Preah Ko and Preah Keo when Longvek fell in 1594. These statues were said to have held golden books full of all the knowledge in the world in their bellies, and legend says that when they were lost to the Khmers marks when the Kingdom of Cambodia fell behind her neighbors. As the head of the naga comes into sight, three large stupas mark the resting place of kings. The first stupa, Chetdei Mouk Pruhm, is where the remains of King Monivong lie. He died in 1941. The middle stupa, with its four bayon faces looking out over Kandal in all directions, is Trai Traing, built by King Norodom for his father, King Ang Duong, in 1891.The last is called Damrei Sam Poan and was built in the 17th century for King Soriyopor. At the very point of the mountain, a huge stupa is just in the final stages of construction. This is probably where the Buddha relics that were once housed in the vihara outside the train station in Phnom Penh will be placed.Kandal-3
Across on the smaller ridge, Ta Sann Mosque is a testament to King Ang Duong’s broadminded intellectualism. Grandfather Sann was born in Champa, the former Islamic empire that once shared Indochina with the Khmers, and was an Iman at Phnom Chumreay. He and the king became firm friends during long discussions about the dharma of both religions, and the king offered him a 50 square meter area on any mountain he chose to build a mosque, which he snappily accepted. But Oudong has not always witnessed such magnanimous tolerance. The alternative stairway that tumbles down the mountainside near the stupas of past kings passes murals depicting the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. No one here has forgotten that past, and the bullet-riddled temples are an everyday testament to what this fairytale city of the dead has suffered in the recent past.
Today, Oudong remains a sacred place where the construction of a huge stupa has recently been built to store and conserve the relic of Preah Serei Roek Theat (Ash of the Buddha).
Koh Dach located 20 km northeast of Phnom Penh and has an area of 30 square kilometers. It can be reached by National Road No6A and by boat along the Mekong River.
Koh Dach features a traditional silk-weaving village in which local craftsmen are skilled at spinning and weaving for their livelihood. It also has fishing villages on the bank of the river.
Angkor Chey Pagoda
Ang Kor Chey Pagoda is located at Ban Tey Dek commune, Kean Svay District in total distance of 29km from Phnom Penh or 32.6 km from Ta Khmao by the National Road N0 1 (Phnom Penh-Svay Rieng province). We travel along the National Road N0 1 from Phnom Penh or Ta Khmao to Kilometre 29 then exceed about 50 meters. There is a gate at the right hand side written “Ang Kor Chey Pagoda”. If we enter by trail about 1,600 meters, we will reach the entertainment center.
The pagoda constructed with having five peaks as the temple’s peaks. Before reaching the pagoda, we need to pass over a 100-meter wooden bridge; under the bridge, there is a big pond for keeping water during the dry season. Behind the pagoda, there is an artificial site located on the black hill characterized as resident of Neak Mean Bon or King. It is said that the black hill is a former palace because we found ancient objects and equipment like bowls and pot characterizing the ancient feature.Now, the black hill has been organized and maintain.
Kean Svay Krau Pagoda
Kean Svay Krau Pagoda is located at Phum Thum commune, Kean Svay District in total distance of 19 km from Phnom Penh or 20 km from Ta Khmao. To get there, we travel along the National Road No 1 (Phnom Penh Svay Rieng), pass over Preak Monivong bridge (the Kbal Thnol bridge) to kilometer 19, then turn left by a trail into the gate of Kean Svay Krau pagoda in 300-metre distance will reach the entertainment center.
The resort of Kean Svay Krau pagoda is located at Kean Svay District and has 10-kilometre distance from Phnom Penh along the National Road N0 1. The resort has the natural beauty decorated by small and big high trees, crop and fruit trees giving cool shadow with green scenery. Long ago it was not a resort; it occurred after 1979 and has main point at Kean Svay Krau pagoda. In additional, the resort is stretched over by an excellent river of Ktob shared from Mekong River flowing across the fertile area with abundant crop farms. The river of Ktob seems to exclusively provide itself to the local people.
Sa Ang Mounain
Located at Sa Ang commune in distance of 23 km from Ta Khmao or 34 km from Phnom Penh and can be accessible by the New National Road N0 21 (constructed during the Pol Pot time stretching over the plain area of Toul Kra Sang); from Ta Khmao to meet the Old National Road N0 21 at Chhouk Leap Pagoda, Roka Kpos Commune in 12-kilometre distance; from Chhouk Leak Pagoda to the market of Sa Ang District in 5-kilometre distance, turn right 2.5 km by a trail, will reach a gate of a pagoda, then turn right 2.5 km by a trail, will reach the mountain of Sa Ang.
The mountain of Sa Ang is a type of natural and cultural site, there is a pagoda constructed at the highest peak of mountain where we can view the beautiful scenery of the surrounding. Sa Ang Mountain does not have many trees as Thon Mon Mountain; but around the pagoda, there is a big lake riches in fish, flowers of Rum Chong and ProLit; besides boating, tourists can enjoy fishing. During rainy season, Sa Ang Mountain seems to be an island surrounded by a vast water.
It located at the communes of Ma Kak, Phnom Penh District and Chhving, Ponhea Leu District. To get there by the document of Khmer Table Part 6; explains that tourists should travel along the National Road N0 5 (Phnom Penh-Battambang) until they reach the Kilometer 38 closed to Udong market, turn left about 16 Kilometers by the National Road N0 26 until they reach the turning road, turn left as long as they reach the Prasith Mountain. Nowadays, visitors do not like to go along the National Road N0 26 which is not in good condition and 100% safe.
This road is also the common border of Kandal and Kampong Speu. The popular road to reach the Prasith Mountain is the National Road N0 5, when we reach the turning road at Prek Pnov market in Kilometer 11, turn left about 13 kilometers. The total distance from Phnom Penh to Prasith Mountain is 24 km and from Ta Khmao to Prasith Mountain is 35 km. In the future, if the National Road N0 26 and other roads to Prasith mountain are in good condition and assuring security.
Phnom Edtharoes located at the Communes of Psardek and Phnom Bat in Ponhea Leu District. The mountain of Edtharoes has three nemes called Phnom Udong or Phnom Preah Reachtrop or Phnom Edtharoes, which can be accessed by National Road No 5 “Phnom Penh-Battambang” ie from Phnom Penh to the turning road at Kilomet 37 and turn left about 3.50 Kilometers by red soil Road. The total distance from Phnom Penh to the mountain is 40.50 Kilometers. If we go from Ta Khmao to the mountain, the distance is 51.50 Kilometers.
The mountain of Edtharoes lasts from the North to the South in a length of 1,500 Meters and its width of 700 Meters. The mountain surrounded by roads including the eastern and western roads. At the North of the mountain, there is Phnom village and at the South, there is Porane village. The mountain has five peaks: The one-stupa peak has equal height to the Tri Treng peak, the mountain peak, the four-stupa peak, the peak of Preah Ang Chol Nipean and the peak of Ariya Kasbak.