Around 90 minutes from the Hotel is a ravine which cuts back into the mountains. This is Kbal Spean. Literally it means ‘Head Bridge’. In the 11th century, the Kings of Angkor recognised the water which flowed beneath the natural bridge itself, ended up at Angkor. Suryavarman I decided to ‘bless’ the water by carving thousands of ‘lingas’ in the river bed. The linga is a depiction of the male penis. The Hindus believed that water which passed over this sculpture was blessed. Hence the carving and hence the modern name ‘River of 1,000 Lingas’. There is another similar feature on the other branch of the river, high up in the Kulen Mountains. However we will talk about that elsewhere.
You need an Angkor Ticket to walk up the ravine, but your driver can stop on the way and let you buy one. The track is reasonable walking. From the car park to the top is 1.5 kilometres and is medium going. Part of it is uphill and there are some steps at the steepest and trickiest parts. It is a beautiful walk. You can see the jungle on both sides, and there are places where one has a wonderful view out over the valley below.
There are plenty of places to rest on the way up if you need them; take your time. When you get to the top, the river runs under a natural bridge. Walk a little way upstream and the bed has magnificent carvings of Hindu gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Walk back downstream and see the linga in the river bed. At the end of the walk, the river plunges over a waterfall. At its head is a boulder carved as a frog! Say ‘hello’ to the frog for us!
Spend time at the waterfall. There are butterflies in the right season and they will dance round you and maybe even land on you. The young, or the young at heart can splash in the water and cool off … but there is a walk back to consider!
If one is at the car park at 9.00 am or 1.00 pm, you can take part in a tour of the Angkor Centre for the Conservation of Biodiversity (A.C.C.B.). This secluded location is a place which tries to rescue and care for rare and endangered species. They have many rescued birds, monkeys, apes and other animals. They also teach children to care for their environment – not a natural instinct in Cambodia where anything that moves is considered food. The 90 minute tour takes you round the enclosures and the guide tells you some of the stories of some of the animals. http://www.accb-cambodia.org/en/index.php
Altogether it makes a great day out and can be combined with elements of the Banteay Sreytour we mentioned before. Nita by Vo can organise a tuk tuk, car or luxury minibus to take you there, licensed tour guide and tickets to make this tour worry-free for you.