Preah Vihear is a Hindu temple of the Shiva goddess that was built during the reign of Khmer Empire, approximately one hundred years before the more famous Angkor. It is situated on top of a 500m tall cliff (very hard to access it), on the border with Thailand. It is known for the conflict between Cambodia and Thailand – both countries claim the right to call the temple their national treasure. In 2008 and also quite recently, in 2011 there were some shootings in the area – some soldiers as well as some civilians lost their lives there! Now the military is still present at the site, but seems to be here just in case, playing cards and drinking beer.
It was our first temple in Cambodia. We were very excited to get there and positively surprised by a total lack of tourists! We saw a few Westerners, but mainly Cambodian families go there for a picnic. The temple itself is pretty damaged but comparing to Iranian Persepolis it is in a great shape.
Walking around the ruins of the temple was a very intense experience: it has a unique ambient, definitely worth checking out!
Since the temple lies on the mountain, we left our bikes at the bottom of it and climbed it by foot. There is a paved road leading to the top, but its last section is so steep, that even walking up the hill made us exhausted! Luckily on the way down, we got a lift from the soldiers.