- Hiking / Trekking
- Place or Religious Monument
- Archaeological Site
- Unesco World Heritage
- Off the beaten track
I had heard a lot about Kbal Spean, often by Cambodians, who consider this place to be Cambodia's most sacred. This mountain's most symbolic place is the river with thousands of lingams : in fact, the river bed has been carefully sculpted with hundreds of lingams, a phallic symbol and divine representation of the God Shiva.
I went there in August, during the rainy season: you can't see the various sculptures very well, but we could figure out the lingams quite well, and it's really a nice and unique stop. In the dry season, there is almost no water, so people can easily admire the sculptures. You can also wash your hands and drink the water from this river to have good luck throughout life, according to the Cambodians anyway!
I really liked the place that is hidden in the forest, which you can reach after walking in the jungle, and which adds a fantastic and mythical aspect. The visit here is not incredible, but it is a stop that I recommend seeing if you go to Phnom Kulen for a trek or to swim in the waterfall. It's a good idea for a nature trip, to get away from the city noise of Siem Reap!
Though this wasn't my first trip to Siem Reap and the Angkor temple, it was my first time visiting Kbal Spean. The site does have the inconvenience of being a little out of the way, so I ended up setting off very early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Even with a stop on the way to watch the quite wonderful sunrise, my friends and I were still the first there when we arrived at the car park!
This gave us a slight sense of being adventurers as we made our way up to the site itself. We had forest all around us; the going along the path wasn't particularly difficult, and the climb didn't prove too steep. After walking for around 30 minutes we finally arrived. My eyes were filled with admiration as I imagined the men who originally came all the way here to carve these sculptures.
The site isn't very well signposted and we therefore didn't actually realise we'd reached the summit at first. After a certain amount of confusion, we finally got to see the rest of the site and the waterfall, and we were still all alone at this point, which was a real delight; even if I did find myself a little disappointed by Kbal Spean's size: it only extends over a few hundred metres, though I do still recommend seeing it all the same. It's quite a unique and unusual place to visit, and somewhere you really have to see if at all possible when in Cambodia.