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Road to Ruin. Wat Prasat Basseat - Battambang. Cambodia.


                                     Road to Ruin

         Destination Prasat Basseat, otherwise known as the ruined ruin. Head north out of Battambang on the eastside river road, after a few kilometres there is a mosque on the right, and then a little further on is Norea village, turn right here and continue straight. This is a graded dirt road that runs through small hamlets and rice fields, reaching Basseat village after about twelve kilometres. The ruined ruin is on the right in front of the modern day Wat. The Khmer Rouge demolished most of the ruins to build a dam. Only one of the Prasat ruins is in standing condition, the others being a pile of stones, or walls precariously leaning over resting on other dodgy stonework. The French explorer Aymonier, described in 1901 that Basseat was well cared for and covered with beautiful sculptures, one of the walls measured two hundred metres on one side. The pre-Angkorian structures date back to 1036, and once completed in 1042, there were five towers surrounding the inner sanctuary. Elderly locals have confirmed the Khmer Rouge involvement in ruining the ruins. Strange happenings deterred them from completing the demolition, apparently their machine guns and artillery would not function from the temple compound, and ghosts warned them to leave the remaining temples alone. If the ghosts were guarding the Prasat then they were well and truly sleeping on the job, the Khmer Rouge had a good head start before being frightened away. As if all this wasn’t enough for the hard done by Prasat, in very recent years a local wielding a brush decided it would be a nice idea to paint parts of the structure blue and yellow. Some of the bas-reliefs on the lintels above doorways have been given this baffling colourful paint job, luckily someone, or maybe a ghost put an end to the unauthorized renovation work, and the colours are starting to fade with weathering. Rumour has it the over-enthusiastic rogue artist has moved to Siem Reap to seek work on a larger commission. Behind the collapsed structure there is evidence of the larger one mentioned by early explorers, but only a few scattered doorways remain. An alternative route back to Battambang can be taken along pleasant country tree lined lanes. Double back just a couple of kilometres to Wat Tapon, turn left to Wat Rokar, turn right to Wat O Meuni, and then on to Anlong Vil. Anlong Vil is a village on route five, the main road to Phnom Penh, from here it’s about four kilometres back to Battambang.