Takeo (also: Ta Kaeo) is a capital town as well as a province in southeast Cambodia. Takeo town, a small place, is not extending 50.000 inhabitants. The province is bordering the Mekong River Delta and the neighbouring country Vietnam.
When visiting Takeo town one will see that there is not much to do except a town stroll. It's a small place without any significant attractions. Though, it can be a pretty nice place to spend a bit of time just because it represents Cambodian town life without much tourism, it's relatively quiet for there is not too much traffic and the climate is fine in the rainy season, because there is almost always a refreshing breeze coming from the neighbouring lake. There is plenty of accomodation of good quality in all price categories in town.
One of the old, colonial-style houses in Takeo. Image by Asienreisender, 11/2013
Takeo is remarkable for at least two things. First it's bordering the lower Mekong River system; it's in fact part of the Mekong delta. In the rainy season the lower Mekong River can not drain the amount of water what is coming down from the middle and upper Mekong and it's tributaries. The water overfloods wide areas of plains who are passable in the dry season. It's even 'pushing' the water streamupwards into the Tonle Sap River and filling Southeast Asia's great lake, the Tonle Sap Lake, with a great amount of water. Takeo is bordering a seasonal lake which extends the Bassac River and has therefore a lakeside with a small pier. After the rainy season the lake shrinks and is changing into a cultural landscape coined by rice paddies and hundreds of canals. The canal net has a tradition which dates back up to almost 2.000 years.
Takeo town itself is a quiet place without much activities. As I heared, there are many by the authorities so called 'illegal people', factually migrants, from Vietnam living here. Not all of them are Vietnamese people; until the 18th century nowadays south Vietnam was part of Cambodia. Saigon had the Khmer name 'Prei Nokor' in former times. Still many Khmer People are living in the Mekong delta area of south Vietnam, and 'border hopping' without papers is common. Due to the proximity to Vietnam, what is bordering Takeo Province, the old tensions between the Khmer and the Vietnamese are more intense here than elsewhere.
The market place in Takeo town. Image by Asienreisender, 11/2013
The part of Takeo Province between Takeo town and Phnom Penh is also a Cambodian center for silk weaving. It's supposed that the technology of silk weaving was imported into the ancient civilization of Funan from India or China.
In a 2004 demographic estimation the part of the Takeo population younger than five years was at 12%. That's not untypically for Cambodia. It's one of the countries where the population 'pyramide' is still very traditionally: many, many kids, and as older as proportionally lesser people. Tragically, a considerable part of the children dies in a young or very young age due to malnutrition or diseases. 12% of the kids under five years old died in 2004. Also tragically, verymost of the surviving kids will never be able to lead a half-way 'decent' life.
Usually, apart from the main road and the very town center, Takeo falls after sunset pitdark. The sideroads are not illuminated. But there are, not too seldom, private events like all the many, many weddings. February, March, April, the hot season, is coined by all these weddings. This one here is quite a big one, with an own band on a larger stage. The din is incredible and penetrating a great part of the quarter, and a whole road has been blocked for the party. Even as a pedestrian there is no way through here, and one has to make a detour through the dark surrounding to go where one needs to go. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 2/2015
Another remarkable thing in Takeo Province are some ancient sites, who date back to the oldest civilizations in Southeast Asia. The ancient town of Angkor Borei, what is by some archaeologists supposed to have been the or one of the capitals of Funan, is located in Takeo Province. It's some eleven kilometers away from Takeo town. It's in both seasons reachable with a motorbike, but in rainy season it means a big detour while there is a straighter access open in the dry season.
Part of the sight of Angkor Borei is nearby Phnom Da. This site consists of two old temples with pre-Angkorian roots and some caves. It becomes seasonally an island and is not reachable by motorbike in rainy season, but only by boat. From Takeo town there is a private boat service offered. It's a typical tourist trap. The skippers are extremely keen in gaining customers and in rising the fare, from 25$ to 30$ to 35$ to 40$ to 45$ and ever higher. They cooperate with the owners of the guesthouses at the lakeside and the restaurant owners there.
Another, architectonically more impressive sight is Phnom Chisor, which is situated some 30km north of Takeo town. It's one of the smaller Angkorian temples and suffered damage when it was bombed by either the American Airforce or Lon Nol forces in the Vietnam War.
Worth to be mentioned here is the sanctuary of Ta Prohm at Tonle Bati; it's one of the finest Angkorian sights out of the region around Seam Reap with it's famous Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. It's no more within Takeo Province, but in the same direction as Phnom Chisor is, about 46km from Takeo.
Takeo Lakeside and Pier
Takeo's waterfront in rainy season at the pier. The small boats are those who bring tourists to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da. In the right/back of the image is a row of stilt houses to see who have a long tradition and are in use since the times of ancient Funan, with the difference that the houses here have tin roofs. The stilt houses at the very right are a spaceous restaurant. Image by Asienreisender, 11/2013
The same scenery in April. The flooded plains have changed into rice paddies, but the old canal is still usable as a waterway. The skippers are as keen as always to sell a boat trip. Image by Asienreisender, 4/2014