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A good day trip from Phnom Penh is to visit Phnom Udong, which is a small town 40km from Phnom Penh. The best way to go is via the bus route to Kompung Chhnang bound bus; travelers can get off at the 37km mark about 1 hour into the trop. The total fare is 3,500 Riel. From here, travelers can take a moto to the temple which travelers can bargain for. It is also possible to take taxis (shared) which charge from 3,000 Riel to $1 per person back to the city.
Udong was the old capital of Cambodia from 1618 to 1866. Much of the city has been destroyed over the years, first by the the Siam regime, then bombed by the United States and ruined by the Khmer Rouge. However, this mountatin is where historically kings were crowned during the old monarchy, like King Norodom Sihanouk.
However, Udong has shrines and temples which are interesting to explore for a day. There are various stupas that are said to house the remains of kings, including that of King Monivong and King Norodom Sihanouk's father, King Ang Duong. These ornate stupas are ornamented with Cambodian-style floral patterns- similar to those in Anknor Wat. The grand stones, gateways and pilars are carved amongst fabled creatures like nagas which are large, seven-headed serpents and garudas which are half-bird, half-human. Figures of elephants are considered protectors of the remains. One of the stupas is carved on top with the face of Buddha facing four directions, a style reminiscent of the Bayon temples in Angkor Wat. To get to the top of Udong, travelers will need to climb 509 stairs, which can be difficult in the midday sun. This path leads to a new, glitzy modern temple where a famous Buddha relic (some bones and a tooth) lies. However, from this height, travelers can visit the stupa Chedi Damrei Sam Poan holds the remains of King Soriyopor. The most important temple to view is the remains of Arthaross temple, which is large and badly damaged by the war. Travelers still enjoy the remains of a Buddha on his lap and the tranquility of the area. In the temple flags hang and colorful offerings have been left in from the various Buddha relics. As the legend goes, all the riches of Cambodia was stored beneath this Buddha but Chinese visitors heard this and returned to the state with worry that the Khmer people may rule the world. Thus the Chinese asked the Khmer to build a temple over the cavern that looks at China. Thus this temple faces north rather than east as most Buddhist temples.
One note is that the amount of begging is very high here, where little children and adults line the steps to the temples, asking for money and food. Since Udong is a silversmith village, many vendors offer silver trinkets. There are also vendors selling food stuffs and textiles and there typically is a lot of garbage which can be distracting.
Not far from Oudong is Longvaek. It once housed a temple but now a new wat has been built over the laterite stones from the site. What is unique about this place is that it was the strong hold for the Khmers against the invading Siamese. In the country surrounding the wat, are surreal sculptures and small shrines. It is almost like a miniature golf course. There is a concrete temple adorned with heads that look like fat Albert.