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Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, August 17, 2014 at 12:31:50 :: Cambodia

Norodom SihamoniNorodom Sihamoni (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហមុនី, born 14 May 1953) is the current reigning King of Cambodia. He is the eldest son of Norodom Sihanouk and Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. His name is derived from the first syllables of his parents' names.

Previously Cambodia's ambassador to UNESCO, he was named by a nine-member throne council to become the next king after his father Norodom Sihanouk abdicated in 2004. Before ascending the throne, Sihamoni was best known for his work as a cultural ambassador in Europe and as a classical dance instructor.

During the Khmer Rouge's four-year genocidal regime, which resulted in the deaths of more than a million people, King Sihamoni - along with most of his family - was kept under house arrest in the palace in Phnom Penh.

Shortly after the Khmer Rouge fell to Vietnamese forces in 1979, King Sihamoni left Cambodia for France, where he pursued his love of classical dance at some of the leading conservatories in Paris.

In 1992 he was given the position of Cambodia's ambassador to Unesco, a post he held until earlier this year, when he moved to Beijing to look after his ailing father.

The first indication that King Sihamoni might succeed to the throne came at an Independence Day ceremony in 2002, when he deputised for the king.

His presence came as a surprise to government officials and diplomats at the event, who saw it as a sign that Sihanouk was introducing his preferred candidate.

King Sihamoni is so far seen as relatively pliant, which will suit Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has dominated Cambodian politics for the past two decades.

Cambodia, with a population of 14.8 million and a GDP of USD 2,100.00, is one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia.

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Poipet, a gateway to Cambodia for Thailand travellers

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 13, 2011 at 07:03:04 :: Cambodia

Poipet (also Poiphet, properly Paoy Paet) is a Cambodian town on the Cambodia/Thailand border, in Ou Chrov district, Banteay Meanchey Province. It is a key crossing point between the two countries, and also extremely popular as a gambling destination as gambling is popular, but illegal in Thailand. There is a strip of casinos and hotels between the Cambodian and Thai passport control counters, enabling Thais to gamble in Cambodia without needing to go through Cambodian immigration. This casino strip area is a 'special zone' that prevents Cambodians from gambling. There is another border on the Cambodian side of this strip area that one needs to pass before being free to travel within the rest of the country.

Poipet border crossing into Cambodia

Poipet is adjacent to the town of Aranya Pratet on the Thai side of the border. Its population has increased from 43,366 in 1998 census to 89,549 in 2008 census.

Poipet is the gateway to Cambodia for many overland travellers coming from Thailand. It does not provide a very warm welcome. Gordon Sharpless notes that "Poipet more or less rhymes with toilet" and this caustic observation is, sadly, true. Poipet is a miserable huddle of touts, beggars, thieves and dodgy casinos for daytripping Thais, and spending any more time than absolutely necessary is not recommended.

Once through immigration, you will be besieged by touts offering transport. Do your best to ignore them. There are two main options available for you:

* Take the free buses to the transportation depot.

* Take a motodop (motorbike taxi), for 500-1000 riel you can take a motodup to any part of poipet, which can come in handy of your trying to find a taxi that doesn't have the police 'subsidy' already attached.

Do not spend unnecessary time in Poipet if you are not ready to be hassled, scammed and frustrated to the limits of your patience.

Common scams include:

* Being told that your onward bound bus is delayed for a few hours and being advised to take a shared taxi instead

* Visa-entry charges that don't exist. Officials are known to insist on taxes that don't exist. Check out the going conditions of entering Cambodia.

* Money changers. A recent practice is to tell bus travelelrs that this is the last chance to change their money because there are "no banks in Siem Reap." Don't believe it. Siem Reap has good western banks and they offer way better rates than the money changers.

* Bars and other local entertainments including gambling can be rip-off establishments enforced by some mean strong-arm types.

* Pick-pockets.

* Transport arrangements. Most buses coming through Poipet have arrangements with Siem Reap guest houses and hotels, and will tend to deliver at a later hour at night than you expect, at the Guest House who has paid the driver. Attempts to extricate yourself from 'their" choice of accommodation (which are almost always inferior/over priced guesthouses) aren't always easy, and can get strained. But if you are firm and insistent that you will only go to your own pre-booked guest house then you should .

Visit Poipet and Cambodia now on Landolia.
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The Temple of Preah Vihear, Cambodia

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, June 27, 2008 at 12:48:39 :: Cambodia

To date, Unesco's 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage protects 851 properties of outstanding universal value, including 660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties in 141 State Parties.

The sacred sanctuary of Preah Vihear Temple (ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ), built for the Hindu god Shiva in the first half of the 11th Century AD during the reign of King Su ryavarman, is on the list for consideration for new sites by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) during their annual meeting in July in the Canadian city of Quebec.

Prasat Preah Vihear (Khmer: ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ - Thai: ปราสาทเขาพระวิหาร), Khmer temple located in the Dângrêk Mountains (Thai: ทิวเขาพนมดงรัก) in Cambodia (ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា) and on the border of Sisaket Province ((Thai: ศรีสะเกษ)) in north-eastern Thailand

The property is situated on a promontory of the Dangrek Range (Dângrêk Mountains - Thai: ทิวเขาพนมดงรัก), 547m above the Cambodian Plain, known as Phnom Preah Vihear (Sacred Hermitage Mountain), on the modern border with Thailand.

The Temple of Preah Vihear is a unique architectural ensemble made up of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an axis 800m long.

This ensemble testifies to the Khmer genius for domesticating vast territories and adapting to the landscape. The property offers the visitor a magnificent landscape embracing nearly 360 of the plain below, a landscape opening out in front of the hermits' grottoes in the cliffs.

Like many Cambodian monuments, this sanctuary consists of a succession of courtyards on a common axis (though the north-south axis here is somewhat unusual).

Preah Vihear temple or Preah Vihear (ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ - Prasat Preah Vihear), Dângrêk Mountains in Cambodia. Prasat Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia and is located in Preah Vihear Province (ខេត្តព្រះវិហារ). most of the temple was constructed during the reigns of the kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and Suryavarman II (1113–1150).

The only access at present is by means of a steep, recently constructed track through the forest from a village, which houses soldiers and their families, as well as some Buddhist monks living at a pagoda, which also serves as a school.

From here two paths lead to the temple, one passing through a village (Pjum Prasat) comprised of Cambodians wholly dedicated to shops and other facilities for visitors. Some 550 people live here. The presence of this Cambodian community has been protested by the Thai government on the grounds that it sits inside Thai territory.

The other path comes through Thailand's Si Sa Ket province (Sisaket province - Thai: ศรีสะเกษ) by means of a monumental stairway with 159 steps, leading to a 25m long pavement flanked by enormous rampant na gas (snakes).

The sanctuary is enclosed by two groups of galleries laid out in cloister form, foreshadowing the cruciform cloisters of Angkor Wat. The central enclosure is accessible only by the three passages coming from Gopura No.1 and two small openings to east and west. The southern side is closed by Gopura No. 1 and the northern side by a structure which is in effect a false gate. Instead of opening out on the vast spaces of the Cambodian plain, it presents a blank face. The layout thus presents an increasingly closed aspect, until at the end all that is visible is the sky.
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Angkor and Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, June 07, 2008 at 18:27:10 :: Cambodia

Angkor and Phnom Penh pull in two million visitors as Cambodia's tourism industry looks for its place in the sun


This was the temple chosen by the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient to be left in its natural state, as an example of how most of Angkor looked on its discovery in the 19th century. This was an inspired decision, and involved a significant amount of work to prevent further collapse and enough clearing of vegetaton to allow entry. It has been maintained in this condition of apparent neglect. All in all, Ta Prohm has the romantic appeal of, say, a Piranesi ruin: partly overgrown and gently declining.

The Angkor Wat and temples at its periphery constitute Cambodia's premier major tourist attractions and together with Phnom Penh, its capital, pulled in more than two million foreign visitors last year, a record for the country that is still smarting from decades of internal strife and a war-torn past.

Visitors from Japan, China, the US, South Korea, France and Thailand travelled to Cambodia in ever greater numbers bringing in US$140 million in foreign currency to the impoverished country, accounting for 10 percent of its gross national product (GNP) last year.

Angkor, the world's biggest temple complex sits within a 64-km radius straddling several villages in Siem Reap, was built from the eighth to the 13th century, with the most famous Angkor Wat constructed during 1113-50 by King Surayavarman II.

Angkor Wat, constructed early mid 12th century C.E. King/Patron: Suryavarman II

In recent years it has become easier for tourists to travel to Siem Reap, the biggest city in Cambodia after Phnom Penh, and especially so for Thais as there are better roads and more choice of transportation.

Terms of entry have been eased. Thais travelling by land can apply for visa on arrival at the border, a facility that also extends to foreign tourists travelling to Cambodia from Thailand, which has led to a remarkable surge in the number of Europeans visiting Siem Reap.

Visitors these days will find life in Cambodia is easier and more convenient. A number of souvenir shops have sprung up in Siem Reap. Vendors can be seen hawking post cards and ancient replicas to tourists, while restaurants, taxi or tuk-tuk service as well as medical facilities are more reliable.

Phnom Penh, the capital city has been refurbished with more monuments to national heroes such as Monk Chuon Nath and linguist Phirom Ou or Kram Ngouy, while the dykes and the riverfront avenue overlooking the Chaktomuk, the confluence of lake Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers has been beautified.

The riverfront area which boasts landmarks such as the Royal Palace and National Museum is dotted with trendy pubs and restaurants, boutiques and galleries.

Main building, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, in the Silver Pagoda complex, Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

Places like the dome-shaped Phsar Thmey central market and Phsar Toul Tom Poung, the Russian market, are full of local and foreign shoppers, including Thais who can be seen buying anything from fake DVDs to handicrafts, silverware and silk souvenirs.

The grim reminders of Khmer Rouge's genocidal rule - Choeung Ek Memorial (The Killing Field) and the Toul Sleng torture camp (S-21 Museum) - are also popular tourist draws, so is Wat Phnom that houses a small pagoda marking the founding place of the current capital in 1372.

But by far it is Angkor that captures the imagination of every visiting tourist. It became the focus of interest in the late 19th century after its discovery by French naturalist Henri Mouhot. The city of Angkor was founded by King Yasovarman I who ruled from 889-990, but the monument associated with Khmer greatness - the Angkor Wat - was not built until 200 years later.

King Suryavarman II built a temple dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu at Angkor Wat, marking the high point of Khmer civilisation which stretched from Cambodia to parts of Thailand and northern Vietnam until the mid-14th century.

The end of Angkor civilisation was partly brought about by a change of faith that swept the region, from Hinduism and animism Buddhism to more democratic and principled Buddhist practices and by the marauding armies of neighbouring states.

Angkor Thom, South Gate, Angkor, Cambodia

Recent excavation with help of advanced remote sensing radar to map the ancient civilisation and its environs reveals a complex measuring about 200-400 square kilometres surrounded by farmlands, villages, temples and ponds, all connected by a web of earthen-walled canals crisscrossing the Khmer empire covering an area of 3,000 square kilometres. The canals were used for irrigation as transport arteries.

In the past, restoration and excavation was restricted by political instability in the country, but with funding now pouring in from Japan, India, France and Unesco the work has picked up and more tourists can now be seen visiting the historical ruins.

Apart from the ruins reachable within less than an hour's drive from downtown, Siem Reap also boasts other attractions, such as the Royal Independence Garden near Grand Hotel d'Angkor, several ancient pagodas and the newly-opened Angkor National Museum.

Shoppers will enjoy night markets selling handicrafts, beers and snacks, clothes, silk and stuff similar to what you will find at the night bazzar in Chiang Mai or Chatuchak in Bangkok. All tricycle and taxi service operators can guide tourists there and they will find out that bargaining the prices down is as much fun as a challenge.

If you come with friends, you will feel less insecure and don't feel disheartened if the stuff you come across there is similar to what you find in Thailand or Vietnam. This is globalisation!
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Cambodia and the temple ruins of the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 29, 2006 at 07:51:13 :: Cambodia

Cambodia has tremendously suffered from the Khmer Rouge regime and the Civil War. But now that this is over, this is a wonderful place to go.

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is a charming city with its quiet River Front, its nice Royal Palace (photo below) and the old french style architecture.

Main building, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, in the Silver Pagoda complex, Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

Sihanoukville, the most famous sea resort in Cambodia, offers nice beaches with white sand and clean water (photo below).

Occheteal Beach, beautiful white sand beach in Sihanoukville

Last but not least, Siem Reap is the home of the famous Angkor Temples, including Angkor Wat (photo below), symbol of the powerful Angkorian-era Khmer Empire and designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Angkor Wat, constructed early mid 12th century C.E. King/Patron: Suryavarman II

Visit Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, Angkor Temples and more on Landolia!
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In The News

Back from Cambodia

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 26, 2006 at 01:12:29

Angkor, Pre RupPhoto of the week:
Angkor, Pre Rup, constructed late 10th century C.E. King/Patron: Rajendravarman II

SouthEast Asia - Cambodia - Angkor - Pre Rup

Royal Palace, Temple of the Emerald BuddhaTwo travellers of our team are back from Cambodia. Three places have been covered: Phnom Penh with its magnificent Royal Palace, Sihanoukville and its numerous beaches and Angkor, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Check out all our new wonderful photos.

UNESCO World Heritage

Cambodia, Temple of Preah Vihear

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, May 06, 2009 at 07:23:29

Location Dângrêk Mountains, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia
Coordinates N14 23 18 E104 41 2
Creator Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II
Property 155 ha
Date of Inscription 2008

Brief Description ( )

Situated on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plain of Cambodia, the Temple of Preah Vihear is dedicated to Shiva. The Temple is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800 metre long axis and dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. Nevertheless, its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded. This site is particularly well preserved, mainly due to its remote location. The site is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation.

Photos from Landolia

Prasat Preah Vihear Preah Vihear temple

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map

Cambodia, Angkor

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, May 06, 2009 at 07:13:11

Location Province Siem Reap, Cambodia
Coordinates N13 25 60 E103 49 60
Type Cultural
Property 40,100 ha
Date of Inscription 1992

Brief Description ( )

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

Photos from Landolia

Ta Phrom, Angkor Pre Rup, Angkor Banteay Srey Khmer art, Angkor
Angkor Wat Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor Angkor Wat

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map

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