Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Prasat Lbeuk Smaoch, about ten kilometres north of Samraong. So we called into the village of Khtom and spoke to the head monk at the village pagoda. He pointed us off into the distance and said it was about three kilometres from the main road and into the fields. One of the young monks, Eh Da, said he knew the way, so he jumped in our 4WD and we were off. Navigating our way across the dried fields was like an assault course for our vehicle, there was no path for much of the way and after ten minutes of being tossed around in the rear of the 4WD, Eh Da announced that we'd arrived. Apart from a clump of trees and thick bushes there was nothing to see. Undeterred, he led us through a break in the undergrowth and into the belly of the temple, a laterite and sandstone ruin, impossible to make out its design though we did locate some false doors with pretty carving, as well as the odd naga head and colonette. The thick spiny undergrowth made it very hard to find our way through the badly ruined site and even standing on top of a ruined doorway made it no easier to identify the outline of the prasat, though I could see the presence of a dried-up moat circling our location. Eh Da led us out again, telling us that he was sixteen years old and had become a monk three months earlier when his grandmother died. He also said he enjoyed it and planned to carry on when his initial period expired. He had also been told a story about the temple by his grandmother and it involved a King, Damrei Sar, who got so angry when he lost his son that he ripped the temple apart with his bare hands. Eh Da himself believed a more modern theory that temple robbers had destroyed the prasat in the last few years. We thanked him, gave him some money for the pagoda fund and carried onto Samraong, for a refreshment stop at a restaurant run by Annie and her sisters from Pursat. By 5.30pm we'd reached Banteay Chhmar.