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Freitag, 22. April 2011

Part 4 - Preah Vihear No Man's Land

Pa Mo I Daeng

Private cars are not allowed beyond the parking lot although the road leads further on South towards a long stretched hill looking like a gently inclined ramp approximately 800 meters ahead. Preah Vihear.

At the left hand side of the road a signposted path leads into a small forested mount. Wooden planks above ground ease navigation and allow exploring the hill without the risk of stumbling upon a forgotten landmine. There are two Sala(s), open Pavillions, on top of this mount.

As seen from the Cambodian position

The Royal Thai Army positioned artillery on this hill since 2010. They have a clear vision to Preah Vihear from this raised location. These are  tactical military grounds nowadays. Gone, the undisturbed tranquil fascination about South-East-Asia, the admiration and respect for ancient places. An artificial external enemy distracts from internal national problems. Same old story again and again. Mankind will never learn from history. The reason is obvious. Personal interests of those at power.    

A guy with typical Khmer features, high cheekbones, dark skin and husky stature, glances lost in thoughts across the no man’s land towards Preah Vihear. He presumably owns a Thai ID, but the border is definitely an annoyance to him. Most people in the Thai provinces of Surin, Buriam and Si Sa Ket speak Khmer within their families and among their friends. Only at school and if involved in official Thai government or business affairs they speak Thai. The observant and attentive Pattaya-tourist or expatriate with knowledge of the colloquial Thai language might have recognized the strange words many Bargirls exchange among each other. The majority of the “service girls” in the tourist spots comes from poor provinces in Thailand and Surin, Buriam and Si Sa Ket belong to them.

Two lonely chedis serve as a landmark in no man’s land between Thailand and Cambodia. Their shape is extremely unusual and it seems that their character is a unique part of the Khmer architecture, nowhere else to be seen. These two chedis each still contain the fundament of a lingam inside. A lingam is a simplistic depiction of Lord Shiva. In modern times it would be called “phallus symbol”. Kukrit’s home in Bangkok showcases a fine example of this kind. There's no Khmer temple without at least one lingam

Lingam in Kukrit's home, Bangkok

The ones original placed inside these twin chedis have been long since stolen. A fate common to many artifacts at Preah Vihear.          

A cliff  with a Buddhist bras-relief named “Pa Mo I Daeng” is accessible from this little hill across the Preah Vihear slope. Literally translated: “(Buddha) The one without customary constraints (carved) into grey rock (and painted with) red colors”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The cliff “Pa Mo I Daeng” as seen from the view point near the tourist information office.    

Cautionary Remark: Whoever intends to visit Preah Vihear / 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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