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The Forgotten Hill

Sokleap, our Cambodian Expert, shares the story of one of her scouting trips to Cambodia. Discover her adventures, her encounters, her discoveries. Get to know Cambodia differently and discover the most remote corners of the country.

The last karstic cliff hills still covered by deep forests have secrets that only woodsmen and other hunters of the region know of.

Asia My Way team was merely guided by a friendly team of young Cambodians that are usually more accustomed in carrying bags of cement and other building materials to the top of the hills than to accompany some strayed over-equipped tourists.

The team left the rice fields and crossed rivers before heading deeply onto a forest trail through the jungle. The road was becoming narrower and steeper. 

This path mostly used by pilgrims is partially equipped with wooden ladders and bamboo railings, whose reliability can be somewhat put into doubt.  

Short breaks during the climb gave the possibility to appreciate step by step the landscapes and the view of the surrounding countryside. The local guides showed the roof of their houses which could be observed from afar.

A few meters away from the plateau, the first stop was dedicated to a cave that protects the spirits that take refuge under it and where the remains of a hermitage subsist. The cave is located not far from a fresh water source which is more than welcome after an intensive morning walk.

After lunch the hiking continued on the plateau to reach the pagoda located at another mountain summit. We reach it by late afternoon, which is the ideal time to discover the site and meet its few inhabitants, including a monk to whom we ask hospitality for the night. This man who is fully silent welcomes us by offering us a cup of coffee. His clothes are torn and we take some time to understand that his gestures invite us to sit down and enjoy our hot drink. We explain why we are here and receive a big smile of consent. He finally speaks out to recite a prayer while we make an offering to him and then returns to his mutisme.

The rocky cliff in front of the pagoda allows us to enjoy the view over the countryside, the forest-covered hills and the loud monkeys from down below. We set up our hammocks in the sala that welcomes passers-by. Out of curiosity we ask the people living in the mountain if they had ever seen other foreigners come up on the plateau and they all answered that as far as they could remember, nobody had ever seemed to venture up to their remote lands a part from us.

Shortly after sunset, we ate a delicious meal prepared by the old women from the village. After a cool night we wake up early before sunrise to make the most of the breathtaking sight that is set before our eyes us from the edge of the cliff. Magical moments shared with our fellow travelers.

Rapidly, the sun rises above the horizon and it is the heart filled with joy thanks to privileged moments shared that we begin the return journey... A 4h walk is needed to reach the vehicle that will take us back home... home sweet home but we will come back soon.

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