Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kulen's natural beauty

A first look at the Kulen plateau as we make our way to the top
The gorgeous waterfall that is the favourite of so many Khmer families
In many ways Phnom Kulen is an undiscovered natural haven, located oh so close to the most-visited venue in all of Cambodia, Siem Reap and Angkor. Obviously, some of its pleasures have been on the list of places to see since the mountainous area re-opened up after the end of the Khmer Rouge movement in 1999, but they are just a part of what's on offer to adventurers willing to seek out more of Kulen's hidden treasures. The beautiful 35-metre waterfall on two levels, the riverbed carvings of 1,000 Lingas, the largest reclining Buddha in the country hewn from the natural sandstone rock, are all favourite attractions for Khmers to visit at weekends and holiday times. Afterall, Kulen is the birthplace of the Angkorian dynasty and that makes it the most revered and sacred mountain in the country and a magnet for pilgrims. Elsewhere on this huge plateau that stretches for 40kms, covered in the most part by forest and greenery, you can uncover more than 30 Angkorian brick temples, inscriptions, pottery kilns, numerous rock carvings in cave dwellings that used to house hermits, remote villages that time forgot and an eco-system that has still to be fully understood. Quite literally we've only really begun to scratch the surface to reveal the treasures of Phnom Kulen.
The most revered reclining Buddha in Cambodia, Preah Ang Thom
Boys will be boys, splashing around in the refreshing Kulen river
The water from Kulen flows down the mountain to irrigate the Angkor floodplain, having passed over 1,000 sacred lingas carved into the riverbed
Pilgrims come to the river to pray to the Hindu deities, many of which are carved on the riverbed
The view from the pagoda at Preah Kral, with that small hill in the distance being Phnom Bok
The reason why much of Kulen is still to be uncovered is the absence of any roads; getting from A to B is by small tracks through the forest in the most part.
Occasionally you will come across a magnificent brick temple like this one at Prasat O'Pong, one of 30 such sites on top of Kulen
Our final look at the plateau of Phnom Kulen, this time with the rooftops of the village of Anlong Thom barely visible on the right-hand side



Anonymous Gabi said...

Beautiful photos, Andy, and great to know about this. Thanks for making me aware of it.

September 19, 2010 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Dara said...

Hi Andy,
We plan to go to Cambodia... This time we plan to visit Cambodia's natural sites. Is it an easy access (drive) to go to Phnom Kuleng waterfall from SiamReap, we have 3 small children. Is there a hotel/guest house near by there, and is it safe to stay?. Also another quest we would like to go to waterfall BOUSRA near Monoroom, Rattanakiri... is it an easy drive to to go there. Is there any guest house near by.
Thanks much... thanks for everything you've done/do for Cambodia .. wish you all the best...

September 20, 2010 at 11:14 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Dara,
yes the road to Kulen mountain and to the waterfall is okay for anyone to go, though you'll need to hire transport. You go up in the morning and come down in the afternoon. I suggest you stay at Siem Reap, there is no guesthouse accommodation on top of Phnom Kulen. Many Khmers make the trip to Kulen mountain especially at weekends and holidays.
The waterfall at Bousra is much further away of course. It is an easy drive along a good road from Sen Monorom and can be visited for a few hours, so overnight accommodation will be in the provincial capital. These two waterfalls are amongst the VERY best in Cambodia.
Thank you for your kind comments.

September 22, 2010 at 10:13 AM  

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