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Two hours from Nita by Vo are the Kulen Mountains. It was here in 802 that King Jayavarman II declared independence from Java and established the Kingdom of Kampuchea – which became modern day Cambodia. The name means ‘Mountain of the Lychees’ after the fruit which grows copiously here.

As you wind away from Siem Reap and pass the checkpoint, the road climbs up the mountainside. The views are quite spectacular. Enjoy as the road takes you through one of the last remaining Cambodian Forests. Most of the country has been logged illegally for profit. Finally the driver will stop in the car park and you are ready to explore. We recommend you take a licensed guide with you who can show you the sights.

The river which flows past the car park eventually ends up at Angkor Wat. Like Kbal Spean, the bed is carved with thousands of round stumps. These are ‘linga’ or depictions of the male penis. The Hindus believed that water which flowed over this sculpture would be blessed. Jayavarman II had the images carved, so that water in which he bathed would be blessed. Little did he know at the time, the same blessed water would flow on to Angkor, where later Angkorians would build their capital.

At the head of the sculptures is a magic pool. Water bubbles up through a bed of sand. Drop a small value note into the pool, and eventually the sand sucks it inside – never to be seen again!Just don’t get tempted to dive in and mine the hoard of notes. The sand is said to be bottomless!

Come back to the car, and the driver will take you to the temple of Preah Ang Thom. Perched high in the mountains, there is an impressive Buddha carved on the top of a pinnacle of rock. A gaggle of small boys will vie to look after your shoes while you ascend barefoot. A small tip will ensure their safe return when you descend.

After the temple, there is an opportunity for a meal in a local restaurant. Then it’s on to the waterfall. THe river plunges over two spectacular cascades. The first is wide, with a drop of around 3 metres. The second if more concentrated with a drop of around 15 metres. The pool at the bottom provides a perfect place for a swim and relax.

The Kulen Mountains are a wonder of nature which should be included on any trip to Siem Reap. Nita by Vo can organise a day out for you, including a car (or luxury minibus for larger groups), licensed tour guide and tickets to enter the Kulen Park.

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