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Mittwoch, 20. April 2011

Part 2 - Preah Vihear No Man's Land

Location and Approach

The ancient Preah Vihear temple is located high on the edge of the Dangrek mountain range at the border between Thailand and Cambodia. The complex occupies the grounds of a long stretched rectangle and is aligned exactly along the North-South axis. The entrance lies at the North end and borders on the Thai province of Si Sa Ket. The sanctuary, the holy place once dedicated to Lord Shiva, lies at the opposite end at the South. Stone staircases and avenues lead the visitor from the entrance all along uphill to the highest point. It’s a dead end. A steep vertical escarpment drops down to the Cambodian plains approximately 500 meters below. The view from there is breathtaking.
Because of these geographic features the most convenient approach to Preah Vihear is from the Thai side.

The last kilometers of the National Road 221 to Preah Vihear are in excellent condition. A typical sign for being of military significance. It can hold out massive vehicles, heavy weaponry transports, supplies and troops.

Thailand declared the area in the vicinity of Preah Vihear a national park in 1998 and named it Khao Pra Wihan National Park.

Some kilometers before the national road ends at the border to Cambodia the route is blocked. Entrance fees for the national park fall due. Thais 20 Baht, foreigners 400 Baht.

This kind of pricing policy is common in Thailand, but rarely to this extreme. There are hot tempered discussions among foreign tourists and expatriates alike who experience such aggressive admission fees for foreigners compared to what Thais pay.

Shortly after the ticket booth, still afar the place of interest, signs at the road side warn the adventurous visitors about leftovers of former conflicts. From then on the number one rule is: “Do not stray off roads and designated paths.” 

Cautionary Remark: Whoever intends to visit Preah Vihear / Prasat Khao Pra Wihan should ask for advice beforehand. As of now, April 2011, the place is closed for visitors. Thai and Cambodian troops face each other in close proximity. Renewed battles could emerge at any time.   

stay tuned...

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