River Shells for Sale in Stung Treng by Asienreisender

A local food speciality are boiled river clams. Everywhere around are these little stalls who sell them.

Motorbike with Oil Barrel by Asienreisender

That's a real Cambodian speciality to transport the biggest things on motorbikes. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

Temple Painting of Rama's Bow Shooting in a Temple in Stung Treng by Asienreisender

The temple paintings here are very different in their style than they are in Laos and Thailand. Here the famous bow shooting of Rama from the Ramayana epic is shown. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

A Well in Stung Treng by Asienreisender

A well on the promenade at the river banks with a river fish. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

Modern Architecture in Southeast Asia by Asienreisender

Another example for the predominant architecture here in Southeast Asia. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

Chinese Worker by Asienreisender

A sign at the building site of the new bridge over the Mekong River. All the signs here are written in Chinese. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

Cambodia Beer by Asienreisender

A sign at a restaurant. Cambodia Beer seems to be a new brand here. Remarkable are the relatively high beer prizes in Cambodia. That might be a reason that it is much less noisy here than in Laos, where the beer is cheaper than in any other Southeast Asian country.

Stung Treng / Cambodia



Stung Treng

One of the small province capitals in Cambodia is Stung Treng, southeast Cambodia. It's barely noticed by tourism, most tourists who come along here have just a glance on Stung Treng through the bus window on the way between the 4000 Islands and Kratie or Ratanakiri.

Wat Sraskevmounywahn in Stung Treng by Asienreisender

Wat Sraskevmounywahn at the banks of the Sekong River. One of the old places in town, while the town center is widely under construction or already renewed. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

It's connected via national road 7 to Phnom Penh in the south and leading north to Laos. There it's national road 13, on which are the 4000 Islands, Pakse, Savannaketh, Thakek and all the way up to Vientiane. All the long road is relatively well made up now by Chinese investors.

There is also an airport some 4km out of town. But it seems, there are no flights anymore. Haven't seen a single plane.


The Town of Stung Treng

Contemporary Architecture by Asienreisender

That's how the contemporary architecture looks in Southeast Asia nowadays. This style is built everywhere now by the construction industries. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

What is to say about Stung Treng town? At the first glance it's a bleak place, where nothing is to do and to see. On the second glance, after a two or three hours walk all around Stung Treng the first glance is confirmed. There is no vehicle needed for exploring the small town.

It's also seemingly an economic booming place with much building activity, but far not as much as in nearby Pakse or Vientiane or other Laotian towns. Many buildings are new, the same faceless mass-construction as anywhere else in these days. Old buildings are rare. A very few, neglected looking buildings from the colonial times are left.

The central place is, as in so many cases, the market place. The market is really big compared to the size of the town with it's 30,000 inhabitants. A hell of dirt and rubbish is in and around the market.

The Market Place of Stung Treng by Asienreisender

The market place of Stung Treng. The parasols shelter the vegetable market, while the tin roofs behind shelter restaurants, gold dealers, butchers, textile dealers and more. Image by Asienreisender, 2013


The Sekong and the Mekong River

Traditional Wooden House in Stung Treng by Asienreisender

A traditional, wooden house in Stung Treng near the river banks of the Sekong River. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

Stung Treng is situated at the Sekong River, which is joining the Mekong River just a kilometer further down. From the city center at the bus station one can already see the confluence of both streams. There is another huge bridge here over the Sekong River, which is, like the Mekong, another big and impressive stream as well. The Sekong River results of the confluence of the Khong River, coming over a length of more than 400km from the Vietnamese mountains via Laos' Bolaven Plateau and the San River, coming down from the Ratanakiri mountains.

At a closer look, particularly after crossing the bridge over the Sekong River it comes clear that the stream is wide but not deep (that is an observation now in April, last month of dry season with the lowest water level). The Mekong contains definitely much more water.

Joining with the already much bigger Mekong River both shape a stream one understands why it is one of the biggest on earth.

Confluence of Sekong River and Mekong River by Asienreisender

The confluence of the Sekong River and the Mekong River next to Stung Treng. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

The banks of the Sekong River are paralleled by a not too busy road and a sidewalk where some stalls with big parasols are placed. They offer food or drinks. Some serve squashed sugar cane blended with a bit of pineapple. Great refreshment after a walk around. Remarkable also that it is not so noisy here - in full contrast to most of the places in Laos.

Stung Treng's Bus Station by Asienreisender

The bus station with the river promenade. In the late afternoon not seldom thunderstorms come down from the eastern mountains of Ratanakiri. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

From there one has a great view over the river's landscapes around and the pier downwards, where ships are loaded with goods designed for Laos. There is also a ferry service for crossing the Sekong River, although the big, new bridge is not far away and well to see from here. Other ferries turn left and cross the Mekong River.

Walking along the river road towards the Mekong, the road becomes a dirt road. It's seamed with slums and piles of rubbish there. That continues when reaching the confluence of the rivers and following the Mekong. Many dogs are around - livestock, probably. Many children are around as well. All their ambition is to say "hello" to the foreign walker. "Hello, hello!" it sounds from everywhere.

At the Mekong River I saw, to my surprise, another big bridge under construction. It's completely under Chinese supervision, built by a Shanghai company. The new road leading to the bridge will probably bypass Stung Treng and join the other main road coming from the bridge over the Sekong River. Though, yet there is no road, only the half-ready bridge.

The bridge over the Sekong River was also built by Chinese investors, as a sign at the bridge announces.

Mekong Bridge at Stung Treng by Asienreisender

The third Mekong bridge under construction I meet on my journey the Mekong River downwards (after the bridges at Chiang Khong and Pak Beng). Image by Asienreisender, 2013


The People

Ice Selling Girl in Stung Treng by Asienreisender

An ice selling girl at the market place. A strange appearance in Cambodia is the cutting of big ice blocks into smaller pieces on the open road. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

The people of Stung Treng are pretty mixed up. Not few look very Indian - the Indian roots of the Khmer People can not be denied. Others look fairly pale - those with Chinese or Laotian descent. And there are of course the ones between both poles.

Much begging I notice here as well. Many kids are asking for money every day. That's clearly different here in Cambodia compared to Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

Temple Painting in Wat Sraskevmounywahn, Stung Treng by Asienreisender

A nobleman sprinkling obeying people with water - looks like songkran... Temple painting in Wat Sraskevmounywahn, Stung Treng. Image by Asienreisender, 2013


Historical Stub of
Stung Treng

The population here is mostly Khmer, but partially Laotian. A Chinese minority is present as well.

In the time of the Khmer empire Stung Treng was part of it; later it became part of the medieval Laotian kingdom of Lan Chang (Stung Treng was called 'Xieng Teng' then in Laotian). When Lan Chang broke apart into Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Champasak, Stung Treng fell to Champasak. From the French colonial time on it was again joined with Cambodia. Nowadays the Laotian border is some 60km north from here.

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Published on April 26th, 2013