Kampong Cham, Cambodia – still off the tourist trail & a true gem.

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Shortly after starting on my last Vietnam day I passed a pretty unique temple in Tay Ninh – I made a point of stopping, not just because of the impressive building, but the religion itself is quite unique. Cao Dai (click here) takes from several religions and is less than 100 years old.

Showing the first few steps up to heaven...

Showing the first few steps up to heaven…

In the picture you can see steps leading up towards a huge sphere
Cao Dai temple.  I had the place to myself as it was early morning - tourists from Saigon are apparently  bused in later in the day.

Cao Dai temple. I had the place to myself as it was early morning – tourists from Saigon are apparently bused in later in the day.

. These steps represent the 9 steps to heaven. I was only allowed up to the 5th step. A man was standing on the 8th step, cleaning the 9th with a duster – I’m not so sure what made him so special that he was allowed up that high!!
I managed to get over the border to Cambodia without any bribes which I was pretty surprised about. The border control on the Cambodian side was particularly relaxed, though they asked for an extra $5 bribe to which I denied them.
Impressive Vietnam side of the border

Impressive Vietnam side of the border

He almost apologetically asked for an extra couple of dollars instead, but his boss came over so he handed back my passport pretty quickly. The Cambodian side of the border has turned into a bit of a mini Las Vagas – full of Casinos. I’m guessing gambling is illegal in Vietnam.

I instantly took a liking to Cambodia after the madness in Vietnam. I found the people genuinely friendly as opposed to the aggressively friendly people (if that makes sense), I met in Vietnam. There were exceptions of course. Kampong Cham is a large town by Cambodian standards, with the only sizable bridge crossing the Mekong river in the entire country. It has a very photogenic bamboo bridge crossing to a small island which gets washed away every wet season and rebuilt every dry season. I have to say though that cycling over it felt like cycling on a large, soft mattress. Apparently trucks have even crossed it.

Horse and cart crossing the bamboo bridge at Kampong Cham

Horse and cart crossing the bamboo bridge at Kampong Cham


Later in the day when the sun was lower I visited Nokor Wat, chatted to a couple of monks and visited an orphanage attached to the temple. Picture tend to speak louder than words, so here are a couple more pictures…
Security guards taking an interest in my bike.

Security guards taking an interest in my bike.

Trees at Nokor Wat

Trees at Nokor Wat

Inside Nokor Wat

Inside Nokor Wat

Obligatory cute kid photo

Obligatory cute kid photo

Cambodian line dancing

Cambodian line dancing

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2 responses »

  1. I remember visiting that temple as part of a large bus full of hot and harassed tourists. Amazing place: jealous of you going through at your own pace. Have fun in Cambodia.

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