Phnom Sampeous, Battambang

Quick Facts:

Phnom Sampeous Moutain is a famous historical site and it's a must - see destination for those ever visiting Battambang. It derives the name Phnom Sampeou which means 'Ship Mountain' from its peculiar shape reminds viewer of a ship. Phnom Sampeous is a natural site placed along National Road57 in Sampeous Commune, Battambang district, just about 12 km away from Battambang city.It rests on the Northern end of the Dâmrei Mountains, which fall into the Gulf of Thailand to the South and connect to the Krâvanh Mountains to the East.

Phom Sampeous should be best explored in early morning or late afternoon when the light and the spectacular views are at their best. The site rises from the endless rice paddles of Southwestern Cambodia by a generous estimate to a height up to 2500 feet. Atop a 100 - meter - high mountain stands a pagoda and three natural caves: Pkasla, Lakhaon and Aksopheak. Among those caves, Plaska cave is full of uprooted stones and is considered important because Sampeous usually gather there to celebrate after a marriage. Right next to Phnom Sampeou are some important mountain clusters, including Phnom Kdaong, Phnom Krapeu (The Crocodile Mountain), Phnom Trung Moan, Phnom Trung Teat and Phnom NeangRomsaySok, all of which are related to a Khmer folktale named Reachkol Neang Romsay Sok.

Phnom Sampeou appears to be a familiar name to every Cambodian mostly owing to the legend of Rumsay Sok, (the girl who let down her hair) related to the hillside. Many of the local geographic features are named after aspects of the legend, including Phnom Sampeou (Boat Mountain). It is essential to know that Phnom Sampeou is riddled with far more caves than you can possibly access without putting yourself in serious danger. At dusk, millions of small bats come bursting out of the mountain in several directions. They form a steady stream toward the countryside, where they spend the evening stuffing themselves with insects. However, the bats are far from the scariest thing in the caves, however. As a matter of fact that Phnom Sampeou was an important setting for battles between the Khmer Rouge and military forces in the 1980s. The Khmer rouge executed thousands of people on Phnom Sampeou, and many were thrown through the roof of one of the caves and left to die in the cold and dark. One example of this can be found near the summit. Some of the bones left in the cave can be found in a cage, others are piled near the walkway. Besides, many aging anti-aircraft guns staged near the top can also be found there. However interestingly, Phnom Sampeou also houses two important Buddhist wats.

There are many ways to reach Phnom Sampeous. From Phnom Penh, tourists can travel via bus or car, just 10 hours. From Siam Reap, it is possible to take a boat across the Tonle Sap Lake and through various river channels to Battambang. From Battambang, it is easy to rent or hire a moto to drive you to Sampeou Village, at the base of Phnom Sampeous then the journey tom Phnom Sampeous will start with a climb of 700 steps to the top.

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