Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Overlooking the Mekong

Fellow passenger Mala and myself enjoy some Mekong viewing at Wat Han Chey
Every time I visit Wat Han Chey near Kompong Cham, thre is some sort of celebration taking place. At the weekend just passed, it was the 5-day Chheng Meng, a Chinese celebration to their ancestors and the hill was dotted with small family groupings, often with a monk present, close to one of the distinctive Chinese-style graves. Phnom Han Chey lies 20kms north of Kompong Cham city though we didn't get there by road. Instead we took the more luxurious route via the Mekong River aboard the Jayavarman cruise boat, which docked at the foot of the hill. The passengers were given the option to walk the 295 steps to the top or get a moto. I walked. As the group received their background information from a couple of guides, I wandered around the temple grounds having been here a handful of times before. There is quite a bit to see, with the brick prasat, the sandstone cella, a couple of other ruined brick shrines, all from around the 7th century, a human-like gibbon that'll eat from your hand, a variety of other religious buildings, one containing wax figures of some of the country's most famous monks, and so on. Oh, and there's some beautiful views of the Mekong River as well. I always feel that a trip to Wat Han Chey is well worth the effort if you are stopping overnight in Kompong Cham. And as you leave don't forget to visit the renovated basalt tower at the foot of the hill, known as Kuk Preah Theat, that was put back together again with a donation from the US government. We got back on board the Jayavarman with our next stop in Kompong Cham city itself to visit Wat Nokor, after enjoying a gorgeous lunch. I could get used to touring like this.
The early morning sun trying to break through the clouds above the Mekong River
A family group gather at a Chinese gravesite for Chheng Meng
Part of the sanskrit engraved doorway at Prasat Han Chey
A look out over the Mekong River from Wat Han Chey
The reconstructed basalt tower of Kuk Preah Theat
Buddhist heads on display inside the brick tower of Prasat Han Chey
Wax-work figures of three of the country's most famous monks

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