Friday, May 15, 2009
Stung Treng. We booked a couple of rooms at the Sekong hotel and headed straight off to visit the Mekong Blue project, about 4kms out of town. Then we headed for a ruined temple site I'd seen on the EFEO map of the province, called Prasat Theat Ba Daeum. Some way off the main road and after scrambling over a series of very large sandstone boulders, we found a hole in the ground, with the inner brick walls still standing but the temple itself levelled to the ground and just a few sandstone slabs lying around a makshift shrine. It was like many temples sites I've seen scattered across the countryside that have literally been demolished either through the activities of temple robbers or by the ravages of time. Often a haphazard pile of old bricks is all there is left to show for the remains of the country's cultural heritage. The temple, believed to be one of a small group in the immediate vicinity, was sat about 500 metres from the Sesan River behind the village of Ba Daeum. Next stop was the more promising Prasat Phnom Theat, which is located in the town of Stung Treng but on a small hill directly behind the military base, so access is with the permission of the Army. We walked up the slight incline to an open-sided shrine that housed four very badly-eroded lintels, a damaged somasutra and a large pedestal and some other minor carved stones. The style on the lintels suggested 7th century. Not exactly the find I was hoping for. I did a quick recce of the surrounding bush to see if I could locate the remains of the temple itself, but without any success. Our final temple visit was to see Prasat Pros, sat on the edge of the corner where the Mekong and San Rivers meet, but some dispersed bricks were the only items of note. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating at Richie's Place, inspecting the next-door and new Golden River hotel, getting into a heated debate with the moto-mafia about our need for two motodops to transport us overland to Preah Vihear province the next morning at a sensible price and enjoying a tikalok on the riverbank before an early night. Early start the next day for our long, and potentially very difficult 'ride to hell' trek across to Tbeng Meanchey.
The outline of a figure on the left and the lintel elements of the 7th century at Prasat Phnom Theat