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Oudong Meanchey

Kandal Guesthouses

Oudong (also romanised as Udong, U-Tong and Odong) is a town situated in the north-western part of Kandal province, and the capital Phnom Penh.

The town is located on top of Phnom Odong, about 40 km northwest of Phnom Penh. The mountain itself runs from the southeast to northeast, with a low saddle in the middle.

History of Oudong

From 1618 until 1866 it was formally called Oudong Meanchey, home to a succession of kings, deposed from the former capital of Lovek by the invading Thais. In 1866, it was abandoned by King Norodom, taking his royal court along with him to the current capital, Phnom Penh. Later during the 1970's it was extensively bombed by the American forces during the Vietnam War and damaged by the Khmer Rouge in 1977.

Oudong Day Trip

When living in downtown Phnom Penh, sometimes a day out of the dust, heat and noise is necessary to retain your sanity. I'm sure many of you have been to the Killing fields, Russian Market or Tuol Sleng but there are plenty more sights to see in the vicinity of Phnom Penh, unfortunately tourist information is badly lacking in Cambodia so these places remain relatively unknown and unfrequented by foreigners. The plus side to this is that they tend to be cheap and quiet, except on public holidays when they are mobbed with Khmers.

Anyway, I thought I'd post a couple of threads about trips in the vicinity of Phnom Penh for whom it may concern, starting with a trip to the hilltop temple complex at Oudong.

So, I called up a half Viet/half Khmer girl I know and asked her if she fancied a trip out of town. She did and so off we went up National route 5 on my trusty battered old Honda Dream. *Note; the journey can also be done on a rented mountain bike.*

After about 45 minutes on the dusty, chaotic highway we miraculously arrived intact at Oudong and as is the case with ALL Asian females, ALL of the time she was hungry and decided we would have to eat something before climbing up the mountain. We pulled into some picnic shacks at the base of the mountain and ordered the obligatory rice along with a really, really ugly fish:

In Khmer they are known as "Trey Ros", I think they're known as Snakehead fish in English. It was actually pretty nice, that is until we'd picked all the meat off the flanks to reveal the fact the fish hadn't even been gutted and all the innards and associated juices were still present. Put me right off but the Khmer girl didn't seem bothered and had a bit of a pick at them. Bloody Khmers, eat EVERY part of ANYTHING!

So, onto the temple itself. We'd picked up a little crowd of Khmer children eager to follow us around and impart nuggets of information about various things, in surprisingly good English and even more surprisingly the information turned out to be pretty accurate. So me, the girl and the gang of kids began the ascent up the mountain. Due to the previously mentioned American bombing and the Khmer Rouge the hilltop temple complex is a mish-mash of old and new buildings, at the top of the few hundred steps, (sure you can imagine the lady moaning all the way up!) we came to the newer part of the temple first:

There is some amazingly intricate detail on the new part of the temple, though my photography skills don't quite do it justice. Here's one that gives you an idea:

From the top of the temple there are some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, especially in the wet season when the rice-fields are vibrant green and the lakes full. The four faced spire in this shot is part of the old temple:

This shot is looking back south toward Phnom Penh. Forgot to mention before that the entire area is filled with all sorts of other smaller temples:

This one is looking North, the temple complex pictured is actually the HQ of Cambodian Buddhism, where the Cambodian Chief Abbot resides, forget the actual name of the place:

This photo, while being pretty crap actually shows something quite interesting. It is a house built by the Khmer Rouge commander of the area and the square shaped pool behind it was where people were killed and buried. Their bones have been exhumed and are in a small shrine at the base of the mountain:

Now here is a photo from the older part of the temple:

And one of an old shrine:

By the way, there are also shitloads of monkeys everywhere, couldnt get a better photo of this baby as one took exception to me and started growling and baring its fangs and I got out of there sharpish!:

So, that was the hilltop temple bit, here's a few from the HQ of Buddhism. In some you can see the hilltop temple in the background. Monks n' nuns:

Supposedly there is a mummified monk here somewhere but I didnt see it. Anyway, it was back to the big smoke after that so thats everything.

In conclusion, if youre getting stressed with the hassles of PP, you could do a lot worse than to take a relaxed day out here, its certainly a nicer day out than the Killing Fields and the breeze at the top of the hill is heaven after the stifling city heat!

Oudong Map

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Original content by Khmen

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