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After dismounting our tuk-tuks, we will begin a hike to the upper parts of Sampov. As you ascend higher and higher above a canopy of trees, more of the incredible view will be revealed to you, and eventually you’ll be able to see miles of luscious green forest, the texture of tiered rice paddies, and the distant, twinkling lights of Battambang town.
The Temple Wall
When we ascend high enough, we will come across an ancient Buddhist temple, with one of its walls richly decorated with traditional Eastern art. The religious iconography may be a little hard to understand at first, but your tour guide will explain many of the stories and customs which inspired the murals. After this introduction and a chance to take a few pictures, your guide will tell you a bit about the significance of religion in rural Cambodia, from its role in ancient politics to the terrible persecution of Buddhists during the reign of Pol Pot, as well as the part religion plays in many modern Cambodians’ lives.
As the night closes in slightly more and the mountainside grows dark, we’ll come to what has become known as the “Killing Caves”. There will be a man ready to greet us, who maintains the killing caves and is an expert on the Khmer Rouge period. He will take over slightly from your guide, and give you a brief overview of the atrocities committed by Pol Pot’s forces, and tell you a few personal stories from people who lived nearby. As you walk through, you’ll see the remains of just a handful of victims of this period of terror and oppression, some still wearing clothes and holding onto personal possessions. Before we leave, we’ll come to a particular spot in the caves where a fissure lets through a powerful stream of sunlight, a reminder that no matter how dark a situation, hope always remains in some form.
When we exit the caves, you’ll find yourself at one of the best viewpoints around for miles. If you found the hike up demanding, this particular spectacle will suddenly make it all seem worth it, as you watch the deep orange sun make its final drop below the horizon. The natural beauty before you is so immense, and the air so clean, that you’ll find it little wonder that so many practising Buddhists have used the spot as a place for meditation in the past. While we take a breather, your tour guide will tell you some of the most well-known local stories surrounding Sampov, as well as taking some time to answer any questions you may have.
As we approach the top of Sampov, you’re likely to see little groups of monkeys scampering through the nearby treelines. They are very used to the precense of tourists, and many will even approach us, most likely looking for food! If you give some of our playful friends a piece of fruit, they might just pay you back with some fantastic pictures to take home.
The Bat Caves
After walking along this path for a while longer, we’ll start our descent down a separate route, in time to see possibly the most memorable sight of your entire trip. As darkness falls, thousands of bats will wake up in the caves along the western face of the mountain, and soar out into the night in massive, black clouds. The sheer volume of the colonies is staggering, and is soon mixed in with the calls of many other nocturnal animals as they begin to stir. You will have the chance to take some great pictures, and your tour guide will go through some interesting trivia about the wildlife in the surrounding region.
26.00 (per person)