'Samraong' means in Khmer as much as 'dense jungle', and relates insofar to the country's past. No jungle left here. The word is here of a spot in the northwestern landscapes of Cambodia, namely the capital of Oddar Meanchey Province. It lies some 40km southwest of the borderpoint to Thailand at O'Smach.
The place is very remote since it is practically meaningless and had until very recently no paved road access. In rainy season it was therefore an adventurous journey to reach (or leave) it. Meanwhile it's connected with Sisophon and Thailand by NH68. The place is flat like a pancake; at the southern horizon one still recognizes the silhouette of the Dangrek Mountains.
There is a roundabout with a Buddha memorial in the middle, from where a road to Siem Reap splits up. To the west the large Beong Snor Pond appears and along it's shores lies much of the place, particularly a longer row of temples and these newly-built, pompous administration buildings who are typical for contemporary Cambodia. It seems that the town get's a new, planned center here and there is much space around in all directions for it's expansion. A vaster roadnet in a chessboard pattern is already laid out. Now it's waiting for the building boom. Certainly real-estate speculation is boiling up already, and surely the best pieces are already all in the hand of CPP party functionaries. The die is cast, and now Samraong can grow fat and ugly, as any other larger Cambodian place is.
Image right: A sideroad in Samraong, seamed with street restaurants and vegetables laid out on the street for sale. Samraong is much more a village than a town. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2016
More south is the market place, the busy, real and probably also historical center of Samraong. The most important roads in town are paved and there is already too much traffic on them.
Since Samraong and surroundings were part of the final theatre of the Cambodian civil war until the late 1990s, there is one of the poisonous heritages of the Khmer Rouge left in the grounds: landmines. Although clearing happened in the past, it's unclear where are still landmines in the town's surrounding remain.
Samraong Market Place
The center of town is, as so often, the market square. Busy, but (yet) less dirty than in other places, it's still nothing to cheer at. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2016
Avoiding cruelty to animals is not part of the NGO's educational schedule - never heared that. It's not part of their qualification. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2016
Oddar Meanchey Province is a young province; it was formerly part of Siem Reap Province, and became independent only a few years ago. It includes also the places O'Smach and Anlong Veng in the Dangrek Mountains. Samraong is also a hotspot for several NGO's and their dubious activities. I don't see they do much good. Usually they provide a well-paid job and a fat range rover for a manager and are based on fundraising and the exploitation of volunteers, an executive of the mass of the unemployed young Westerners.
Here they are focused on the education of local farmers in agriculture. It's odd actually, that a people who do rice farming since about 1,500 years need instructions how to do that nowadays. It would, of course, be the task of the Cambodian education system to fullfill this duty, but they fail, as always. I saw a lot of the party functionaries meeting every morning in Chhoeun Prak Kap Hotel. They filled the parking with their huge, four wheel drive landrovers, all men, and any of them drives his own car. Seems, they are to busy with preying on the country than to care for education. Insofar the NGO's do fill the gap, and that means also stabilizing the Hun Sen regime.
There are a few sights in the province, of who I hsould mention first the Spean Toap Bridge (Spean Ou Chik), an ancient Angkorean sandstone bridge about 32km east of town on the way to Siem Reap. It was probably part of the dharmasala route from Preah Khan to Phimai. There are more Angkorean temple remains around, as Prohm Kil and Prasat Tapaeng.
There are also remarkable landscapes, apart from the Dangrek Mountains north are the Da Champi Waterfall and the Rolos Thom Formations geologial peculiarities.