Visiting the temple in the top international news you’ll learn of a place of supreme national importance in Cambodia. This temple is focus of a big dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.  The temple is in the front line and what will happen here will affect relations between the two countries.

 

eyal1_thumb1

Eyal hails from Israel  where he works hard half the year, saving to spend the other half of the year using Thailand as a base to travel throughout South East Asia.  Eyal has had a strong interest insubmission writing and photography and has corresponded with me for years, asking questions, taking notes, and working up to this submission.  Writing in a second language is never easy, and often it's very difficult.  For some of us impossible.  To keep such good records and document the trip so well, and then to put the work in to share with the readers is very much appreciated.  I hope to see more ofhis work grace future columns.  You can contact Eyal via email at lotfaifa@yahoo.com

 

 

Bangkok Images special report

Introduction

Visiting the temple in the top international news you’ll learn of a place of supreme national importance in Cambodia. This temple is focus of a big dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.  The temple is in the front line and what will happen here will affect relations between the two countries.

Preah Vihear temple is currently an important national symbol in Cambodia and the subject of constant debate in the local news media.  Recently there was a visit from the Cambodian Prime Minister who met with military commanders.  The site has a sign that illustrates the importance of place to the Cambodian people.

Six years ago I visited Cambodia.   As I remember, there wasn’t a bank note of 2000 real.  This bank note is now printed with the national symbol of Preah Vihear temple.

 

Preah Vihear temple is currently an important national symbol in Cambodia and the subject of constant debate in the local news media.  Recently there was a visit from the Cambodian Prime Minister who met with military commanders.  The site has a sign that illustrates the importance of place to the Cambodian people.

Getting closer to the top of the cliff. As you can see the Preah Vihear is respected as a national symbol. Flags are all over.

 

Getting closer to the top of the cliff. As you can see the Preah Vihear is respected as a national symbol. Flags are all over.

 

This sign say it all. With all the time I spent in Cambodia, many kilometers on the road, I never saw such a sign. Cambodians are extremely serious about Preah Vihear temple. (BkkSteve: Eyal, do you know how recent these signs and the such are? Is it possible the Khmer government is running a public campaign to publically support their political stance?)

This sign say it all.  With all the time I spent in Cambodia, many kilometers on the road, I never saw such a sign. Cambodians are extremely serious about Preah Vihear temple. (BkkSteve: Eyal, do you know how recent these signs and the such are? Is it possible the Khmer government is running a public campaign to publically support their political stance?)

 

Cambodian bank note of 2000 rial. This bank note is printed with the national symbol of Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian bank note of 2000 rial. This bank note is printed with the national symbol of Preah Vihear temple.

 

10 000 The King

20 000 The Prince /The Bayon

pv7

500 Angkor Wat

500 Angkor Wat

2000 Preah Vihear temple

1000 Angkor Tom/Sihanokville Port

1000 Angkor Tom/Sihanokville Port

Printed values of Cambodian money(Riel) include the most important national symbols.

The following symbols

100 Independence Monument (no picture)

500 Angkor Wat

1000 Angkor Tom/Sihanokville Port

2000 Preah Vihear temple

5000 The King(no picture)

10 000 The King

20 000 The Prince /The Bayon

Conclusion:

The Preah Vihear temple importance is extremely important in a national level. (BkkSteve: Eyal, I notice all these bills are dated since this conflict has been going on. Do you know if the previous dated bills have the temple on them as well?)

 

Reminder

Last year the Thai army attempted a military takeover of the Preah Vihear temple.  The argument is that the place belongs to Thailand.  A surprising move since there is a border crossing at the foot of the temple.  Tourists and visitors from Thailand had come to visit the temple freely.  All the time continued cooperation.  Until Thailand suddenly and unilaterally decided on a military takeover.  This is a Cambodian temple and a significant part of the magnificent ancient Khmer culture.  Somehow I don’t find logic in such dangerous activity?  The Cambodian army was able to defend the temple ...... until the next round.  In war we all know where it’s started but the end is unknown......... (BkkSteve: Eyal, are you saying Thailand has no history in the Khmer culture? There must be some reasoning other than it’s theirs.)

 

And an important reminder

Large areas were annexed by force from Cambodia to Thailand.  As a matter of fact it is 6 provinces.  There is a large Cambodian population in Issan (Korat,Buriram,Surin,Si saket) they are ethnic Cambodians.  Citizenship is Thai.  (BkkSteve: Eyal, some more background information on this would be interesting. Do you mean ethnic Khmer?)

 

Large areas were annexed by force from Cambodia to Thailand.  As a matter of fact it is 6 provinces.  There is a large Cambodian population in Issan (Korat,Buriram,Surin,Si saket) they are ethnic Cambodians.  Citizenship is Thai.  (BkkSteve: Eyal, some more background information on this would be interesting. Do you mean ethnic Khmer?)

Large areas were annexed by force from Cambodia to Thailand.  As a matter of fact it is 6 provinces.  There is a large Cambodian population in Issan (Korat,Buriram,Surin,Si saket) they are ethnic Cambodians.  Citizenship is Thai.  (BkkSteve: Eyal, some more background information on this would be interesting. Do you mean ethnic Khmer?)

Large areas were annexed by force from Cambodia to Thailand.  As a matter of fact it is 6 provinces.  There is a large Cambodian population in Issan (Korat,Buriram,Surin,Si saket) they are ethnic Cambodians.  Citizenship is Thai.  (BkkSteve: Eyal, some more background information on this would be interesting. Do you mean ethnic Khmer?)

 

Location

Preah Vihear temple is built on top of cliff in the Dangrek Mountains.  The place is breathtaking.  From the top of the temple you can see a very large area.  Plains.  This is the view of Cambodia.  It can be seen in other temples.  Because it's probably a recurring theme that an important reason why the temples were built in a very specific way facing a certain views.

 

How to get there

A good option for a small group is to rent transportation from Siam Reap.  It will take 3-4 hours to the temple (one way). Another option which I did is to take a bus from Siam Reap to the nearest town call Sraeem.  I spent the night there.  From there you can rent a motorbike taxi in the early morning.

 

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

 

Temple Structure

The Temple was built from the foot of the mountain (Thailand Cambodia border) to the summit.  All the way is paved with stones of the same size.  As in other places there are five temples during the walk to the top of the mountain.  The impression is that this is an important pilgrimage site evidenced by the width of the paved road climbing to the top.

The place is designed to move a large number of people.  The temple was meticulously designed.  The construction plan is not accidental.

There is an astrology connection between the stars and the temple architectural plan.

According to the building structure the temple was built before Jayavarman 7 (Angakor temple, Angkor Thom Bayon,) in Siem Reap.

Like other temples this temple also consists of five stages.  Each stage located on the middle of the paved road.  Each stage is a shrine.

The first temple known icon appeared on the Cambodian bank note of 2000 Riel value.

At least part of the temple was built of local stones.  Due to the massive quarrying activities changed over the mountain and incorporated into building design and the view and planning from the temple.

 

The Temple was built from the foot of the mountain (Thailand Cambodia border) to the summit.  All the way is paved with stones of the same size.  As in other places there are five temples during the walk to the top of the mountain.  The impression is that this is an important pilgrimage site evidenced by the width of the paved road climbing to the top.

According to the building structure the temple was built before Jayavarman 7 (Angakor temple, Angkor Thom Bayon,) in Siem Reap.

At least part of the temple was built of local stones. Due to the massive quarrying activities changed over the mountain and incorporated into building design and the view and planning from the temple.

 

Dangers

This is a quiet border area but due to politically sensitive and military activity in the area thing can be change in a matter of hours.  The place can become a battlefield very quickly.  The area mined because of the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.  Some areas are marked as minefields.  Should be heard provisions and preferably not hang out alone near the border.  There are also reminders of the past.  During the Khmer Rouge were laid mines in the area.  There is no marking of these landmines.

 

This is a quiet border area but due to politically sensitive and military activity in the area thing can be change in a matter of hours.  The place can become a battlefield very quickly.  The area mined because of the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.  Some areas are marked as minefields.  Should be heard provisions and preferably not hang out alone near the border.  There are also reminders of the past.  During the Khmer Rouge were laid mines in the area.  There is no marking of these landmines.

 

Khmer Rouge

In the past this area was a meeting place between Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge commander and seniors of the Thai army.  I wonder whether there is documentation of these meetings.  You might ask yourself if such encounters like this happen.  Anything is possible.  And how do I know this my tour guide in the site was a soldier in the Khmer Rouge.  He didn’t read it from books.  He was there.  He was aware of what is going on.  Those meetings took place right here.

 

In the past this area was a meeting place between Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge commander and seniors of the Thai army.  I wonder whether there is documentation of these meetings.  You might ask yourself if such encounters like this happen.  Anything is possible.  And how do I know this my tour guide in the site was a soldier in the Khmer Rouge.  He didn’t read it from books.  He was there.  He was aware of what is going on.  Those meetings took place right here.

In the past this area was a meeting place between Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge commander and seniors of the Thai army.  I wonder whether there is documentation of these meetings.  You might ask yourself if such encounters like this happen.  Anything is possible.  And how do I know this my tour guide in the site was a soldier in the Khmer Rouge.  He didn’t read it from books.  He was there.  He was aware of what is going on.  Those meetings took place right here.

 

Conservation

The temple does not seem to be hurt by military operations.  The Cambodian government is involved.  UNESCO, World Heritage Site, and other donors are involved.  Conservation and restoration and maintenance of the site is required as soon as possible.

 

The temple does not seem to be hurt by military operations.  The Cambodian government is involved.  UNESCO, World Heritage Site, and other donors are involved.  Conservation and restoration and maintenance of the site is required as soon as possible.

 

Contemporary situation

I was received very nicely by the Cambodian police and military.  A lot of Cambodians were present.  The place is safe (was) and quiet.  No combat situation.  In an attempt to calm the situation it was decided the two governments that a symbolic five Thai soldiers live together with five Cambodians soldiers on Cambodian border.  Let's hope that this will attract more tourists it will be a fascinating place.  As I write these lines here I got a ”wake up call”.  Again this area is war zone.  Which side started again shooting and why I don’t know.  We will never know.  Better an agreement then a war.

 

I was received very nicely by the Cambodian police and military.  A lot of Cambodians were present.  The place is safe (was) and quiet.  No combat situation.  In an attempt to calm the situation it was decided the two governments that a symbolic five Thai soldiers live together with five Cambodians soldiers on Cambodian border.  Let's hope that this will attract more tourists it will be a fascinating place.  As I write these lines here I got a ”wake up call”.  Again this area is war zone.  Which side started again shooting and why I don’t know.  We will never know.  Better an agreement then a war.

 

Summary

Visiting the temple was interesting and an exciting experience for contemporary political significance.  Because important historical value of the temple and the spectacular scenery.  To me it was one of the most fascinating places in Cambodia.  I will end with one of the most famous scene which appear in the second shrine.  More known as "sea of milk"'.

Eyal – This is a very interesting place and I really enjoyed this. Thank you. I hope to read more details in Part 2.

Steve