Oddar Meanchey is one of the smallest provinces of Cambodia located in the far Northwest bordering with Thailand. Its name means Victory Province and the provincial capital is called Samraong. This area was formerly known as Phanomsok, a province of Thailand, which was ceded to French Indochina in 1906, and now remains a part of Cambodia. This province is also a recent creation that was carved out of Siem Reap Province, which the government did not control for much of the 1980s and 1990s.
The countryside is covered by the Dangrek Mountains (or escarpment, as they are sometimes called), which was an optimal shelter for the Khmer Rouge to hide. It is a very remote province that has been a notorious place, because this is where he nastiest of the nasty Khmer Rouge made their last stand. The diabolical Pol Pot and his seemingly bloodthirsty henchmen, Nuon Chea, Ta Mok, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan holed up here for the last years of the Khmer Rouge’s existence (another of the henchmen, Ieng Sary, already worked out a surrender and defection deal with the government in 1996).
Pol Pot died mysteriously here, after a supposed power struggle within the power elite (he had Son Sen and his family murdered) and after a controversial show trial. The debate focused on whether it was real or just a sham staged for the outside world to try to legitimize remaining Khmer Rouge figures. The trial took place in the power centre of the Khmer Rouge, the village of Anlong Veng. Pol Pot died mysteriously after he was sentenced to house arrest and the international community began real efforts (for the first time ever) to capture and put this butcher on trial. His henchmen had more than enough reasons to believe that he wasnt dead at that point, because a Pol Pot on trial, as the ringleader most responsible for the genocide wrought upon his fellow countrymen, would probably have tried to shift portions of the blame (rightfully in the case of these guys) to the rest of the power elite.
The Khmer Rouge kept fragmenting after that and Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan worked out a surrender-amnesty deal with the Cambodian government and Ta Mok (also called The Butcher) was subsequently captured and is still awaiting a trial in Phnom Penh. As of March 2000, the United Nations and the Cambodian government finally seem set to come up with an agreement on putting the top surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime on trial in Cambodia, with assistance from and in a partnership with the International Community. Stay tuned though, as this has been a real political football with seemingly more concern for one-upsmanship and personal gain than justice for the dead and surviving victims of Khmer Rouge brutality.
The international border is 14.5 km from the circle in Anlong Veng (Anlong Veng-Choam-Choam- Srawngam and O Smach-Chong Jom). There are plenty of tanks and tank shells to look at along the way and also a strange site in the form of a boulder that had Khmer Rouge soldiers carved out of the sides of it- they have all been decapitated since government forces took control of Anlong Veng. Anyway, its an interesting little ride to a low-lying part of the Dangkrek Mountains. The road is in fairly good shape with the exception of the climb up a rocky hillside near the border.
How To Get There
If you wish to go to Anlong Veng you best come from Siem Reap via Major Road No 64 (distance: 142km). The time of journey vary depending on the season between 4-6hours. The easiest transport mean is a share taxi, which will charge you around US$4-5.
Anlong Veng is also connected by reasonable roads to the provincial capital Samraong (US$4) in the West and Prasat Preah Vihear to the East.
Coming from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: (Bus)
Several guesthouses, travel agencies and bus companies offer daily bus transport between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It is a smooth 314 km, 5-7 hour trip. The bus makes at least two stops along the way (at Skun and Kampong Thom). All charge the same, $3.50 (14,000R) one way. The earliest buses depart starting at 6:30AM and that last buses between noon and 1PM. Neak Krorhorm Travel :
Phnom Penh office at the corner of Street 110 and Sisowath Quay. Siem Reap office opposite the Old Market
Phnom Penh bus station near the Southwest corner of Phsar Thmey (Central Market).
Phnom Penh Public Transport Co.:
Phnom Penh bus station near the southwest corner of Phsar Thmey (Central Market).
Coming from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: (Share Taxis)
Local shared taxi: 25,000 riel per person. Departs from southwest corner of Central Market in Phnom Penh. 5-8 hours Private taxi: US$38-$45 for the whole car. 5-6 hours. Due to rising fuel costs, prices are in flux.
Motorbike Info to Anlong Veng:
The road to Siem Reap is in good condition, but driving in Cambodia is still challenging in the extreme, and should be attempted only by experienced riders. Speeding taxis, slow cows, and oblivious children are the norm. The trip calls for a dirt or road bike, no smaller than 250cc. It can be made in a day, but two days with a layover in Kampong Thom is a more relaxed alternative and allows time to visit the pre-Angkorian ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk.
Leave Phnom Penh via the Japanese Bridge and follow National Highway No 6 75km to the North. Youll reach the Skun intersection (Skun is known for its exotic foods – check out the fried spiders, turtle eggs and more at roadside stands.), where you have to turn left and follow NH 6 to Kampong Thom – about 2-3 hours. In Kampong Thom, the Arunreas Hotel (062-961294), Stung Sen Royal Hotel (012-309495) and Mittapheap Hotel are all decent mid-range places. Arunras Guesthouses and Restaurant next to the hotel is the place to eat cheaply. From Kampong Thom to Siem Reap the trip takes another 2 hours. From there youll have to search the Major Road 64 to Anlong Veng. This will take you another 6h on bumpy unpaved dirt roads through monotonous dry forest changing sometimes to jungle sections.
Going to Samraong: (Share Taxis/Pick Up/Motorbike)
Heading west on the NH 6 from Siem Reap youll reach an intersection after 51km. Turn right and you enter after some 100m a small town called Kralanh (US$1.5 from Siem Reap or Sisophon). From here you take another pick up or share taxi to the North on laterit-paved and bumpy Minor Road 68 (US$2-3, 2-3hours, 65km). Sometimes you can find early taxis leaving to Samraong from Siem Reap (US$4-5). (Price may change)
What To See
The Cultural Site Of Khmer Rouge (Tamu House)
Border Check- Pint Of Ou Smach