“Phnom (Hill) Oudong dates from the early 7th century and was the old capital of Cambodia (1618 – 1866) before the capital was moved to Phnom Penh. It is now the official resting place of the most sacred of Buddha’s bones possessed by Cambodia. Originally stored at the monument in front of the railway station in Phnom Penh and later Wat Phnom, the bone has had a new temple built top the mountain and is now the tallest one of three temples that exist there.
“As the capital, it was called Oudong Meanchey; Oudong means noble or excellent, and Meanchey means victory. From 1618 until 1866 it was home to a succession of kings, deposed from the former capital of Longvek by the invading Thais. The mountain itself runs from southeast to northeast, with a low saddle in the middle. Khmers say it has the shape of a Naga the magical multi-headed serpents that guard the Buddha. Along Route 5, signs point the way to silversmithing villages, a legacy of the past when kings and nobility used to come to the Tonle Sap to bathe and the people would offer them delicate gifts fashioned from the precious metal.”
As we headed towards Phnom Oudong and the mountain we stopped several times. First stop a Silver smith family, specialising in Silver and Copper. The photos show the casts being melted into to the shape, in this case with “Singapore” silver from Cambodia..apparently!
The detail is then painstakingly added…
After a small purchase from the shop and much bartering, I realised that I didn’t have enough money! Fortunately Sang Hai (think Shanghai) Tuk Tuk extrordinair came to the rescue and subbed me 50$. We jumped back on to move further towards the mountain to come across the edge of the vast Tonle sap river. At the same time some locals were ferrying cement across the river for new buildings, one of the cement guys was very interesting, allowing me to photograph him… You might say a very lived in face..