Tag Archives: travels

Banteay Chmar

I am sitting here in Siem Reap back from almost a week of surveying in Banteay Meanchey province. I have heaps of photos and what I think are some interesting things to share from this trip. However, I’m sleepily full of Indian food from dinner so I will start with some photos from my visit to my touristy trip to Banteay Chhmar (or sometimes spelled Banteay Chmar) temple near the Thai border in Banteay Meanchey province, Thma Puok district. The rest will get posted over the next few days.


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Return to Oudong

Well it’s been a busy week here in Phnom Penh! I finally got a permission letter to begin research at the Royal University of Fine Arts (although the dean is out of town so I’ll be meeting with him on Monday to get started). On Wednesday I gave a short lecture to a middle-school English class at the Lycee Francais. The students were extremely bright but didn’t have much of a background in archaeology or early Cambodian history so I fear I overwhelmed them. However, a friend lent me some pottery to bring and show them, which really got them excited at the end. Then on Friday I gave a lecture to some Khmer faculty and researchers at the Center for Khmer Studies office in Phnom Penh which was on my research more specifically. Because I don’t have much to show for my research at the moment I talked more about my methodology and future research questions. Again, the group members were not native English speakers and I fear I lost a few of them but afterwards I spoke with a couple of people and they seemed interested in enthusiastic. I’m looking forward to working with these folks in the future.

This Saturday, an archaeologist friend of mine who teaches at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh invited me to come on a small field trip with a few students from his ecotourism class back to Oudong. The students, one man and two women, were all getting their BA in Hospitality and Tourism and (as is required to take classes at Pannasastra and work in hospitality) had excellent English. I was still able to have a bit of a chat in Khmer with them though and they helped me with some vocabulary which I’ve promptly forgotten. As this was an ecotourism class, the drive out was spent discussing the landscape and ecology on the way up to Oudong and we made a few stops along the way up and back. Highlights when you click “Keep reading.”


Phnom Oudong in the distance from National Route 5

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In addition to visiting Kampong Luong on Saturday, Alberto and I also made our way over to Oudong.  Oudong is just a short drive outside of Phnom Penh and was the capital of Cambodia from 1618 to 1866, when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh.  As it’s a short drive out of the city it is a popular weekend spot for many locals, although it seems to be a bit off the regular tourist track.  Oudong is located on  a series of small hills, so a trip there includes a bit of light hiking.    There are quite a few Cham communities around Oudong (we drove by several mosques on the way there) and there is one small Islamic temple on one of the hills.  Alberto is studying Chams in Cambodia and had been to this temples several times before.


The top line in this sign is Khmer language,  the second is Cham script, and if you can’t read the last line you’re in trouble 😉

We hiked around a bit more checking out several small temples and stupas along the way.  (Oudong contains the stupas of several of Cambodia’s past kings).   Many of the temples had older men standing outside asking for small donations.  As Alberto mentioned, it would be fun to return and speak to them more about the stories behind each of the temples.   Ours was a quick trip, so all I have for now are just a few photos.   As usual, click “Keep Reading” for more.

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Khmer Silversmiths in Kampong Luong

Another weekend and another day trip from Phnom Penh! This weekend I visited the old capital of Oudong (post coming soon) but stopped along the way at a silver village nearby called Kampong Luoung. Both places are just a short drive outside of Phnom Penh. Tiny silver boxes, often in animal shapes, are a popular souvenir and are found at many shops and markets in Phnom Penh. I had always heard they were originally used to store betel nut, but most have an artistic rather than functional purpose. I’ve been having a hard time finding any information about Khmer silversmithing and these little boxes in particular. (Although an nice short little article can be found here). I was really interested in finding out more about these objects and how they were made, so we arranged to stop at this village and spoke with a woman there and her family who are silversmiths. More on this and LOTS of pictures when you click “keep reading.”


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Phnom Chiso

Saturday was a busy day. After visiting students from CLA, a friend and I hired a car and drove down to Angkorian period site of Phnom Chiso. When I was here in 2005 working at Angkor Borei, we made a weekly trip back and forth to Phnom Penh for a little R&R. We drove by this site every time and I always wanted to stop and visit, but never got the chance. Hiring a car cost $45 RT, which was a bit more expensive than I expected but the price of gas here has gone up dramatically. The site is about 90 minutes outside of Phnom Penh. On the way down our driver took a really bumpy dirt rode that was in poor shape but on the way back we took the better road that I think was a bit faster.

Phnom Chiso is a Hindu temple built on a mountain top in the plains of Takeo Province. According to Lonely Planet, the temple was built in the 11th century when it was known as Suryagiri. There is quite a steep climb to the top but along the way there are several opportunities to stop and have a drink. Interestingly enough some mysterious organization called the Canada Fund donated several benches for travelers to relax on- they were everywhere! Note: There is an easier climb to the top from the Northern entrance, we chose to go up and down the steeper climb at the Southern entrance.

Stairs at Phnom Chiso canadabench.jpg

At the top of the climb you are rewarded with a small, crumbling, but beautiful Angkorian temple surrounded by a fairly large complex of more modern Buddhist temple buildings.

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