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Barsat Temple

Barsaet Temple was built during the reign of King, Soriyak Varman I (1002-1050) and located on a hill at Ba Set village, Ta Pun commune in 15-kilometer distance from the provincial town. Ba Set temple adapts the architecture of 11th century and built in 1036 and 1042. Next to the temple, there is 20 meters by12 meter and 10 meter depth pond. The pond is never dried, though in the dry season. In rainy season, the water level is higher than usual.

Banan Temple

Banan Temple is adapts the architecture of mid 11th century and the end of 12th century the temple was first built by king, Ut Tak Yea Tit Tya Varman II (1050-1066) and then was finally built by the king, Jarvarman VII (1181-1219). The temple is located on the top of approximate 400-meter heighten mountain at Kon Tey 2 commune, Ba Nan District in 25-kilometer distance from the provincial town by the provincial Road No 155 parallel to Sang Ke River. At the mountain’s valley, there are Ku Teuk and two main natural wells, namely: Bit Meas and Chhung or Chhung Achey.

Wat Ek Phnom

Situated about 10 km north of the Cobra Bridge are the ruins of Ek Phnom. It was built during the Bayon period and unfortunately is much worse for the wear than Phnom Banan.It’s an interesting place, however, because there is a freshly constructed working temple right in front of the ruins. This temple, along with the temple ruins, is the center of holiday festivities for the people of the nearby village. They dress up in their Sunday best and have a celebration between the old and the new temples and climb all around the ruins with their families.

The ruins are on a very small hill so there is no workout involved in viewing them much of the temple is in shambles and was heavily looted. There are still some sitting Buddha images intact higher up on the walls. On the inside is a carving of a tug-of-war with participants tugging away on a serpent. The participants on the left have lost their heads to looters (they lost face), with the guys on the right still having their heads intact.

Ek Phnom is also easy to get to-just head north on the River Road (Road 1) a bit over 10 km (the road north of the Cobra Bridge snakes around a bit, but goes back to the river). As you are getting close to the temple, you will pass over a small concrete bridge. The road beyond will veer off to the right, but the modern temple is there to the left. Enter the new temple grounds and the ruins are located to the rear. Again, a round-trip moto-taxi is about 120 baht from Battambang.

Phnom Banan

This Angkor-era mountaintop temple is definitely worth a look. At the top are beautiful views of the winding Sangker River set amidst sugar palm trees, rice fields and small villages. To the south you will see a mountain range that features a crocodile shaped mountain.

The temple itself is beautiful looking from the ground as well as the top. The structures are pretty much intact, but unfortunately like so many Khmer ruins, they have fallen victim to massive looting. Still, there are some interesting works to see. There are five temple structures, like Angkor, with the middle being the largest. (Use caution around the entrance to the center structure-there is a large hanging block-a headache-in-waiting for some poor soul). As with Preah Vihear Temple (close to the Thai border in the province of the same name), there are a couple of big guns on the mountaintop next to the ruins. The guns are still pointing down at the surrounding area as they were during the more recent years of the government-Khmer Rouge skirmishes.

It’s part of the sad irony of Cambodia that a place built for worship, harmony and tranquility was utilized as a place for making war. Looking down the hillside to the southwest you can see more of the ruins. As always, if you go looking around, STAY ON THE WORN PATHWAYS AND TRAILS- there may still be undiscovered landmines.

Phnom Sampeou Mountain

Definitely worth a visit, it’s about 15 km outside of Battambang city on the way to Pailin (Rt. 10). Since it’s closer to Battambang than Pailin, we’ll include it in this section, as it’s a trip that a lot of locals take from here. However, if you are going to Pailin just save it for a stop on the way. It’s easy to do if you have your own motorcycle; if not you can negotiate a bit higher price and have the share taxi stop there an extra 100 baht should do it, but don’t pay until you get to Pailin. 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 temple was built in 1964 and is a mix of old and new styles. As you approach the top, take the dirt path that you will 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 ladies 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. Also easy to get to (I don’t mean to imply that the road is good), just head out of Battambang on the road to Pailin about 15 km. As you approach, you’ll 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. Figure around 160 baht for the round trip moto-taxi.

Kamping Puoy Reservoir

This gigantic civil-engineering project was central to the Khmer Rouge’s plan to irrigate the countryside around Battambang. Tragically, the construction of the Kamping Puoy Reservoir resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Unlike the victims of S21 and Choeung Ek most of the deaths o­n the Kamping Puoy project were caused by malnutrition, disease, overwork or mistreatment. The deaths were in short, preventable. A gripping, visceral and painfully honest account of life in Battambang under the Khmer Rouge was written by Haing S. Ngor, the Cambodian doctor, actor and community worker who won an oscar for the film The Killing Fields. His book Survival in Cambodia’s Killing Fields is perhaps the most eloquent account of day-to-day life during the Pol Pot period. It is laced with insights into the Khmer psyche and is ultimately a heartbreaking read. The Kamping Puoy Reservoir itself runs between two hills: Phnom Kol (or Phnom Ta Ngel) and Phnom Kamping Puoy Mountain. It is now a popular picnic site for residents of Pailin and Battambang because of its fresh air. Lotus flowers grow in the water and nearby you can buy lotus seeds to eat (they are delicious and taste a bit like sweet, uncooked peas). Takream Commune in Banan District is the nearest settlement.

Wat Pee-Pahd

Located between River Road 1 and Road 2, this temple is set amidst pleasant grounds and is an important spiritual center for Buddhism in Battambang.

Wat Gahndahl

Located on the east bank of the Sanker River, the temple is a simple and run down place. There is an unusual wall mural on the outside of the temple that features a progressing story of a bad dude that apparently killed his own mother and finally had to board a boat bound for hell. Strange, indeed.

The interesting feature of this wat is the Angkor replica about 110 meters sown a dirt path from the rear area of the temple. It was built in 1969 over a small concrete pool and is the pride of the monks staying there. They say spirits and relics of deceased monks are housed inside. Battambang is not short on temples and you will see many more around town and on the way to the sights outside of town.

River Sightseeing & Boat Rentals

Just north of the Cobra Bridge, on the west bank, you will see a lot of boats hugging he riverbank. You can hire a non-motorized small wooden boat for around 4,000 riel, and a motorized boat (if available) for around US$ 5 an hour. It’s a pleasant way to wee the river life around Battambang town. There is also a boat you can take to Siem Reap for a smooth alternative to the lousy highway (see Coming and Going section).

Gold Buddha Hill

This one is for your journey to Sisophan if you are heading that way (60 km or so from Battambang ). It’s easy to spot from the road. See the Sisophan section for more details.

Phnom Trong Morn Trong Tea

15 KM (40mn) From Provincial Town. Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Samnagn Village, Phnom Sampov Commune, Banann District.

Prasat Sneng

22 km (1h:30mn) From Provincial Town. Historical Sites and Buildings, Location: Sneng Village, Sneng Commune, Banan District.

Prasat Snung

Characterizes as three separated stupas made of brick, located on a hill having 30-meter length and 20-meter width, in Snung pagoda’s area, Snung commune, Ba Nan District in 22-kilometer distance from the provincail town. According to the style at the gate, the temple is similar to other temples in 12th century. Behind the temple, there is another new constructing temple.

Sek Sak

Is the natural resort, which has been popular since before the civil war time. Sek Sak stretches along the river bank full of plant, trees and bamboo-green nature in 50

Wat Tahm-rai-saw (White Elephant Pagoda)

Situated between Roads 2 and 3, this ornate temple is worth a look, especially during the Khmer New Year festivities when it becomes the happening place in town for festivities. Entertainment, classical dancing and plenty of water and powder being thrown by the masses in search of fun and good luck for the coming year.

Banteay Sat

Banteay Sat How to go: 105 km (2h) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Historical Sites and Buildings, Location: Koh Village, Kaoh Chiveang Commune, Aek Phnom District.

Dang Tung

Dang Tung How to go: 54 Km (3H:20mn) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Danng Tung Village, Phlov Meas Commune, Rattanakmundul District.

Phnom Kdoung

Phnom Kdoung How to go: 14 km (1h) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Kdong Village, Phnom Sampov Commune. Banann District.

Pich Chenda

Pich Chenda How to go: 44 km (2h) From Provincial Town. Location: Description: Nature wildlife and Preserves, Location: Treng Commune, Rattanakmundul District.

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