Friday, April 10, 2009
Anlong Veng, en route from Preah Vihear to Banteay Chhmar, I took the opportunity to take the new paved road to the top of the Dangrek Mountain escarpment, and I've already bought you the latest photos of Pol Pot's cremation site. On the way to the top, the road is split by a massive boulder and some damaged statues hewn out of the solid rock stand as a reminder of the control that the Khmer Rouge guerrillas exercised over the area for so long. The heads have been chopped off and the statues are looking worse for wear after government soldiers apparently took a dislike to them. Shrines at the site allow locals to pay their respects to their departed comrades. At the top of the mountain, the track to Pol Pot is on the right and that in turn carries onto the squalid market and then onto the border crossing with Thailand, known as Choam Srawngam. Taking a badly rutted road parallel to the mountain's cliff-face, after about four kilometres we came to a lovely open spot with gorgeous views over the plains below. I'd stayed a night there half a dozen years before and nothing had changed, especially the stunning panorama. The six wooden bungalows there, costing $7.5 per night, now have en-suite bathrooms. Nearby, in the undergrowth, lie two more reminders of the Khmer Rouge regime, the overgrown walls of another of Ta Mok's homes, this one built for a quick getaway into Thailand when the going got too hot, and a building that doubled as both a radio station and a prison at different times. We returned to town to grab a bite to eat at the Phkay Preuk restaurant and to visit a couple of guesthouses, to see the best accommodation on offer at the Monorom and Sokharith, before heading further west and a night in tented accommodation at Banteay Chhmar.
The plains of northern Cambodia stretch for many kilometres into the far distanceA visitor pays her respects to this Neak Ta spirit statue on the cliff-edge