Phnom Sampoeu: Signature of Nature and History in Battambang
Six hours on the bus from Phnom Penh to Battambang, the city where is calm and full of green scenery.
A hop-on Rermok to visit Phnom Samphou for fifteen minutes drive from Battambang downtown, the name of mountain mean ocean sailing junk. Rermork driver stop for a while to take a view of mountain. He told us that “most of time, I stop here for a foreign traveler, and you all should do to take a view of mountain here, too”. I really thank to him where it is a good spot to catch up this view of mountain.
As we approach, we see the mountain and temple at the top and think that you are going to run right into it. The town next to the mountain has the same name. As you get into town you go by a school and small stands until you see a sign in Khmer and English (amazing) on the left for Phnom Sampeu. Turn left here and as you go toward the stairs you will note some bits of ruins on the left.
We arrive mountain around 4 pm and it is not much hot. To go up to the mountain, rermok driver tell us that you can ask a motor taxi to bring you up ( it cost 2000 riels for 1 ways or 0.5 USD ) or go by your foots. I and my friends decide to go by foot to get view of the mountain.
The green scenery with a sound of birth bring us to the top of mountain. Along the way, the Buddha sit around where is worship place.
We arrived the top of the mountain and get the Phnom Sampeu Pagoda. Place of interest a hill with caves of Buddha statue and is also where the Khmer Rouge conducted their killings, the view from to top of mountain to Battambang village.
Phnom Sampeu features an Angkor-era Baray-style pool; cave shrines with skulls and bones of Khmer Rouge victims and about seven hundred steps leading up to the main temple area, with its dynamite views. The mountaintop pagoda was built in 1964 and is a mix of old and new styles. As you approach the top, I take the dirt path that I see forking off to the right. It leads to another hilltop temple area about 400 meters away. In the back of that, away from the view side, is a stairway leading down to a cave. Inside are some of the skulls and bones from this area’s killing fields. Locals have brought them up here and set up a couple of shrines in caves for the spirits of the victims in the hope that they can finally rest in peace. It’s another sobering place in Cambodia. A bit further down is a cave with some small stalagmites and stalactites. Continuing the cave circuit, there is another cave area off from these areas that has a reclining Buddha and more skulls and bones nearby. It’s not a bad idea to bring a flashlight, although old grandpa working the temple have candles for a small donation. The stairway and the areas on the top are packed with Cambodians on holidays as they make the pilgrimage with family and friends to see this mix of the old, new and a part of the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge era.
Around 5 o’clock, we walk back with shortcut way to reach bat cave where is the residence of fruit bats. The villager tell us that the bat will leave cave to find something to eat around 5:30 pm. I reach bat cave with other tourists around there. A thousand of bats were flying from their cave to go to the sky. What I can see is a blank line is up on the sky that I can never still believe my eyes that I can see this view.
A short hour visit is gone and what is left a beautiful memory with all of us.
“Every time we look back on this moment when we go there which taught us many things, it will be a moment of wonderful. For me it is a moment to remember because all my life… you see, the whole of my travel life… I have believed in Merger and the unity of nature and history. You know, it’s a people, connected by geography, economics, by ties of the same land with gap of time-frame”.