Photo Hunt #082: Withered

Sorry about being absent in Photo Hunt for a few weeks. I was on holiday mode way before the Khmer New Year. Now that I’m back (again), I’m going to make up (again) for my absence.

The theme for this week is “withered”. So, here goes…

My husband and I love driving around on weekends. We often end up between Kandal and Kampong Chhnang areas, which is on the northwest  of Phnom Penh and about a couple of hours drive from the city. And why do we do that? If you happen to drive through Cambodia’s countryside, you will know why.

One of the reasons is the charming countryside. Ricefields! We love being surrounded by rice-fields as far as our eyes can see. At this time of the year, when summer is in full swing and the harvest season is over, the once verdant fields have turned into golden brown. And what a sight to behold!

Below is a picture of an already-harvested field. After harvesting, the rice straws are left there. Traditionally, farmers burn the rice straws or leave it there to decompose. More often, you can also see cows grazing and occassional white birds (egrets?) dotting the ricefields.

The huge stupas of Phnom Oudong, on the background, and Wat Chey Oudom on the middle-ground.

There is so much to see in the countryside if only you’re game enough to go off the beaten track and sweat a little.

Not very far from Phnom Oudong (closer to PP), we bravely explored Phnom Prasith during the weekend of the Chinese New Year. Phnom Prasith’s secret (well, not anymore) is a pre-Angkorian wat (temple) – or what’s left of it – tucked away on top of a hill.

The three pictures above remind me of the temples in Angkor Wat. Overgrown by trees and bushes, the temple evoked the same mystery as that of Angkor Wat. Imagine how many temples like this are found not far from Phnom Penh?

Inside the temple is a make-shift altar built in between two huge boulders. According to the temple-keeper, below the altar is a tunnel spanning 16kms., connecting this wat to Phnom Oudong. It must have served as a secret passageway to a rendezvous or trysts during the old times. We saw where it is – it is big. And dark. No one dared to check it out.

It was very quiet, sunny, but not too hot, when we got out after a tour inside the wat. Feeling a little bit like Indiana Jones, we explored the area further. There’s this old stupa that caught my attention. It was old and left untended for years if I am not mistaken. I immediately took photos.

With the gnarly trees and withered surroundings, I sensed something was in the air and stopped in my tracks. Something mystical was blowing through this part of the woods and it sent shivers down to my spine. I had goosebumps and I felt the hair on the back of my neck stood on its end. I hastened my steps to catch up with my husband. I was half-walking, half-running towards him thinking about the area being  guarded by spirits when I got distracted by this black thing a few feet away from me, protruding from the withered leaves carpeting the  ground.

It’s a broken piece of something… maybe a part of the old stupa. Who knows how long it has been laying around there. If you’d look closer, you can actually see some details on it. They’re lotus petals, I’m sure of that.

It’s been two months since our visit there but up to now I can still remember that eerie encounter in the woods. I wonder what it was. Some adventure, eh?


NB: All pictures first appeared on my photo blog, Inside Cambodia.