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Fewer crowded destinations Tripping with social distancing

Taing Rinith / Khmer Times Share:
The swimming pool at Seametrey Leisure Centre. GT2/Taing Rinith

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you may have cancelled all your trips and spent most of your time indoor listening to your neighbour’s terrible singing on the $30 portable karaoke set, hoping the crisis will be over soon so you can escape from it. Now that the situation seems to have improved, an outdoor enthusiast like you may want to start enjoying going on adventures again. However, be mindful, it’s always better to be safe than sorry; you may need to find places with a smaller number of people visiting the area.

Fret not, because Taing Rinith will bring you to some lesser-known, less crowded destinations, which will still satisfy your inner Indiana Jones.

Seametrey Leisure Centre

Seametrey Leisure Centre is one of those less renowned and isolated resort in Kandal, but it is almost guaranteed that those who visit it will eventually come back for more.

Shacks on the beach of Koh Ksach Tonlea. GT2/Taing Rinith

In order to reach the hideaway bordering Tonle Bati Lake in Kandal Stueng district, you have to, travel about 30 kilometres into the south from the city centre. One hour’s drive or three hours’ bike ride may sound long and tiring, but for a true adventurer, it offers the chance to observe the way the local people live – not to mention an enjoyable trip on a road lined with paddy fields, huge trees and ponds.

On this resort which covers an area of about four hectares, the first thing that catches your eye is the tranquility of the natural elements such as the lake and various tropical trees and flower blending in with manmade modern but unique architectural structures. It has eco-friendly features such as natural lighting and ventilation, geared towards reducing the use of electricity to the minimum.

Seametrey Leisure Centre provides visitors with serpentine cycle trails with trees at regular intervals, plantation or fields along the way, which one can cycle in a slow pace with the cool, fresh breeze of the countryside caressing your face. Its main attraction however, are the gigantic swimming pools and a huge slide which is everyone’s favourite on a hot day.

The retreat is also known for its sports centre, with a mini football pitch, a volleyball court, two tennis/badminton courts and ping pong tables. It rents out kayaks so people can calmly explore the natural lakes. Others can enjoy playing bar games such as darts, chess and pétanque. Target archery, according to the manager, will be added soon.

The temple on Phnom Da. GT2/Taing Rinith

There are playgrounds with recreational equipment such as swings, slides and a skate park, where you can introduce your children to the kind of vintage outdoor fun when smartphones were nonexistent or you can simply indulge in your nostalgic childhood activities.

Koh Anlong ChenIf you’re a fan of Robinsonade masterpieces like Lord of the Flies or Castaway, you might fancy being marooned on an island, devouring fruit and fish you catch and trekking through the jungle. Look no further! Koh Anlong Chen is the place for you.

On a satellite map, Anlong Chen can be seen as a crescent isle on Bassac River, a distributary of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong River. It does not have any manmade resorts, mountains or sacred temples. Yet, the island has everything to offer the fans of the castaway narrative who fancy being marooned on an island eating the fish they catch, consuming the fruit they pick and of course hiking through the jungle.

On Anlong Chen, you can see the stunning scenery comprising of a river view with fishing boats, a great inspiration for photographs and paintings.

If you happen to be a keen angler, the bank of the river near the pier is a good spot for you to satisfy your hobby and of course to catch your own lunch. The friendly local fishermen are always happy to join and share with you their way of life. This spot is also a good place to view the sunset over the river in the evening.

A pier on Koh Anlong Chen. GT2/Taing Rinith

Anlong Chen, however, is more well-known for its crops and fruit rather than as a tourist attraction. Thanks to its fertile soil, people can find many vegetables and fruit grown without the use of chemical fertilisers. The isle is also particularly famous for its longan fruit, a tropical member of the soapberry family. Longan trees which give the fruit its musky sweet taste can be found practically everywhere.

Koh Ksach TonleaBefore heading out to Koh Ksach Tonlea, located 30km from the heart of Phnom Penh, there are certain preparations to be made. Firstly, if you are visiting it on a weekday, bring enough food to last the whole day because there are no restaurants nor eateries in sight on the small island.

If you depart from the Independence Monument, head south on National Highway 2. About one hour later, after passing Ta Khmao town and entering Sa’ang District of Kandal province, turn to National Road Number 21. After another 20 minutes, you will reach a pier, from where you board a ferry to get to Koh Ksach Tonlea.

When approaching the wooden pier on the island, you immediately will be able to tell the difference from the mainland, when the cool, fresh breeze hits you in the face. Almost everywhere is a blanket of tropical trees and flowers, emanating a fragrance which masks the smell of car fumes of the dusty city. Look over your shoulder and you will witness the life of a hardy fishermen working on their boats set with the river in the background, frames a picture of lazy tranquility.

Koh Anlong Chen

Next to the island’s pier is a small but beautiful beach, the best known attraction of the islet. People have built small huts on the beach which are rented out on weekends or national holidays. The beach offers the same elements as coastal beaches, except for the salty water.

Many visitors spend their entire day at the beach and see their stress sailing off into the river.

Phnom Borey and Phnom DaThese two resorts are the farthest away from Phnom Penh on this list, but not as far as the country’s northeastern provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. They, however, provide a very similar experience for the enthusiastic adventurer. It takes approximately two hours by car to visit these two destinations.

Phnom Da is surrounded by dense forest and topped with an ancient temple. In its midst are five man-made caves, each of which contains a Shiva Lingam and Uma Yoni, deities worshipped by the Hindus.

Phnom Da temple is 12 meters square and 18 meters high, constructed by laterite, brick and sandstone. With a peak that is severely damaged, the temple has illustrations of the reclining Lord Vishnu and a broken sculpture depicting the ‘Samudra Manthan’ or Churning of the Ocean of Milk (known in Khmer as Ko Samutra Teuk Dos), one of the most well-known episodes in Hindu philosophy.

Phnom Borey and Phnom Da

It also has four doors, but only the one on the north side is real. About 300 meters southwest of Phnom Dais is another smaller temple with a similar style known as ‘Asrom Moha Eysei’, which translates as the dwelling of the hermit.

At the foot of the Phnom Borey, part of which is located near a riverbank, lies a few resorts with grass huts. This is a place where you can relax in one of the hammocks while enjoying the great scenery of the river, having good country meals made from fresh ingredients and sipping a few drinks with your friends.

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