After spending quite exhausting days visiting the Angkor ruins, Laureline and I decided to take a break and go for a hike. Yes, you read it correctly! Me, 100% city girl hiking in the nature!! The funny thing is that if you had told me a year ago, that I would go on a hike in the middle of the jungle, I would have had a good laugh and said no way that’s going to happen! But now, I actually like being outdoors and walking in the nature. I don’t mind taking cold showers or not having access to electricity, … maybe I am changing and becoming a country girl?!?
Anyway, about 25 km from Siem Reap is an archaeological site called Kbal Spean (‘Bridge Head’ in Khmer). Kbal Spean is described as “a spectacularly carved riverbed, set deep in the jungle to the northeast of Angkor”.
To reach the first site, a waterfall, it’s about 1 hour walk uphill, along a path through the forest. I admit, we took our time (can be done in 40 minutes, but I wasn’t trying to beat any record of the fastest hiker! It’s not a competition!) and stopped several times to take some pics. It was a long way up, but definitely worth it!
……………..At the top was a stunning waterfall with a river bed that cuts through beautiful sandstone formations. And, a little higher up, we started seeing what we’ve gone up to see, myriads of lingas (phallic symbol of Hindu god Shiva), carved under the water.
Hence the name of “Valley of a 1.000 Lingas” or “The River of a Thousand Lingas”.
Some lingas are inside a square, called Yoni. Yoni is the equivalent of the female organ!
I learned afterwards that the idea behind these lingas, or erect phallus, is to symbolically fertilize the sacred waters coming from Phnom Kulen, the holiest mountain and birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire, and going down to the Angkor plain.
We also saw some mythological depictions of the gods Vishnu, Lakshmi, Rama, and Hanuman, as well as animals sculptures (cows and frogs). But the lingas, these neatly arranged bumps that cover the surface of a sandstone bed rock, are definitely the most impressive!
This hike was my first one but definitely not my last one! I am looking forward to new adventurous hikes in beautiful surroundings!