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South of Kirirom, there are regular traffic jams on National Route 4 at the Pich Nil pass, where most Cambodian motorists break their journey to make offerings at the shrine of Yeah Mao, or Black Grandmother, who is believed to protect travellers and fishermen. The most popular version of the tale is that she perished in the waves after setting out to find her husband who had left to fight at sea. To pick out her shrine, follow the eye-watering haze of incense – a smoke-dimmed image of her can be found within it. The rows of spirit houses are recent additions and are a bit of a scam by local stallholders, but Khmer are often superstitious and most would prefer to make an offering rather than risk offending the spirits.

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