We Finally saw our camp in the light. This was the most “wild” place we stayed. Next to a fast flowing river, literally, in the middle of nowhere.
After a walk into a nearby village we removed our shoes, covered our knees and shoulders and climbed high above the canopy of the trees to visit the “Big Buddha”. A beautiful, reclining Buddha, surrounded by colourful murals and thousands of offerings from visitors from all over the world. We were honoured to be allowed to ring the gong in the reclining Buddha’s temple. It was stunning. At the top of the mountain, in the highest temple our guide, Nak, explained the evolution of religion in Cambodia from animism to Hinduism to Buddhism. It was interesting to hear that all religious icons are revered by all, whatever they believe.

We then walked to the famous 1000 lingas river. Carved into the riverbed are the symbols of male and female reproduction. The water from the spring at the top of the mountain flows down to the many temples dotted across the hillside. – it is known as the water of life. Our guide told us that Cambodian ancestors who were Hindu had tried to recreate the Ganges in Cambodia and that is why the carvings are so extensive and elaborate.

After another winding trek through the jungle, we came to 400 steep steps down the mountain. We stopped halfway at an amazing temple where the “water of life” from the top of the mountain flowed underneath the Buddha. The local guides “blessed” us with the Holy water to wish us well as we headed down the next 200 steps.

The afternoon was brutally hot. A few people struggled with blisters and aches and pains but with great team spirit, support from our trek doctor, Tansy and the trek team we finally made the long walk into camp about 5pm.

Camp tonight is another amazing Buddhist temple. Our tents were waiting for us and a few of us enjoyed ice buckets for our aching feet. It is interesting to think how Hospices were originally lodgings for pilgrims, usually run by religious orders, where weary travellers could stay the night during their long journey. Just as we have done each night with our remarkable and warm-hearted Cambodian hosts.

The St John’s Hospice Cambodia Trekkers

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