Located 100km east of the Angkor park, Preah Khan, or Prasat Bakan, with it’s 5km square walls forms the largest of all the Ankorian complexes. For the visitor, this forgotten city offers a scattering of remote temples in mostly derelict states due to looting in recent times. However, in contrast to Angkor park, you are unlikely to see many tourists due to it’s remote location. It also gives you the feeling of the intrepid explorer with the overgrown jungle an small trails that lead you to hidden structures.
Located next to the village Ta Seng, solitude of the area is probably it’s greatest asset. The structures do not match the grandness of the mostly restored Angkor park. Freedom to explore makes up for this, with the ability to enter the complex after dark making it an ideal spot for a night photography workshop. At present, customers are allowed to camp out in front of the main entrance, eliminating the 4 km trip back to the home stay at Ta Seng. The local police are friendly and will want to ‘look after you’ for a small fee. They will warn you of snakes and quiz you on wether your scared of the ghosts..
Most of the temples entrances in Angkor park are east facing with the exception of Angkor, which is west. The entrance to Prasat Bakan however faces east-north-east. The central tower lies on a lay line (more info here on vortex map site, interesting stuff) but not in line with it’s axis. Why the different direction, was it some kind of celestial phenomena. Is it a coincidence that it almost aligns with the rising sun during summer solstice?
There are a few options on how to reach here from Siem Reap. Perhaps the most adventurous is via the old route 66. This is the old royal road to Angkor which passes some small temples and Angkorian bridges, only for the more experienced biker. An easier route is to follow R6 east past Kampong Kdei, then head north to a giant Khmer / Chinese rubber plantation, then east until you hit the road heading North to Ta Seng. Don’t get lost, we did! Another option, but greater distance, is to head to Stoung. From here there is a road direct to Ta Seng. This is sealed in parts however, where not sealed it offers sizeable pot holes. There seems to be ongoing road construction from the Stoung end with 12 km of good road at the time of our visit. I suspect the plan it to continue on the the temple complex, making this area more accessible, retracting from it’s solitude.
A note on the cover picture.
This was my first serious attempt at star trails. The colours in the stars are natural, it’s about getting the ISO correct so as not to not over expose them. The glowing red is from the smog, clearing above. My lack of familiarity with magic lantern led to too bigger gap between exposures. Normally this can be fixed with Statstax, a free blending program, however my gaps were too big. Thankfully, after a five hour shoot, a small amount of radial blur in Photoshop came to the rescue.