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Angkor Wat -Temple of The Capital

Angkor Wat – Angkorian Temple Dedicated to Vishnu

Angkor Wat (អង្គរវត្ត) is the world largest religious monuments which has been treated as the world’s most valuable heritage. Angkor Wat not only attractive to visitors around the world with its beauty, but also its perfection of construction architecture. Thus it has become Cambodia’s most preserved temple which attracted millions visitors every year. Angkor Wat represents the highest level of Khmer architecture and it has become a symbol of Cambodia, the only element appearing on the national flag of Cambodia.

Angkor Wat was built in the first half of the 12th century since the beginning of King Suryavarman II’s reign (1113-1150). It was built as his state temple and capital city. ‘Angkor Wat’ simply means ‘Temple of the capital’ which ‘Angkor’ is derived from Sanskrit meaning ‘city or capital’. ‘Wat’ is Khmer word for ‘temple’. Angkor Wat was originally built to dedicate to Hinduism, mainly Vishnu. It’s believed that Angkor Wat temple was designed by Divakarapandita, the chief adviser and minister of the king who was a Brahman with divine honors.

Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor Wat -The picture taken in front of the left side basin with five peaks of Angkor Wat reflected on the water surface.

Angkor Wat’s orientation is different from other temples in the area which the main entrance is at the west, rather than the east. The bas reliefs are arranged for viewing from left to right which is a practice used in Hindu religious ceremonies for tombs. Because of this J.Przyluski, who studied about Angkor Wat, concluded that Angkor Wat is a tomb. For G. Ceodes, other researcher, claimed that Angkor Wat might be a tomb because of its main entrance is from the west, but Angkor Wat is no difference from other temple that it is the home of the king’s statue in the form of divinity. However, his conclusion was strongly claimed that Angkor Wat was funerary temple or mausoleum. In generally, Angkor Wat is accepted as a temple where the king worshiped to his Hindu gods and it was also a mausoleum for the king after his death.
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Baphuon Temple

Following the completion of decades-renovation project named as the world’s largest puzzle, the 11th century Baphuon temple was re-opened to the public on Jul 3, 2011 under a ceremony highly attended by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. We are as Cambodians would like to express our profound gratitude to France for completing the renovation project of Baphuon temple which had spent 10-million-euro funded by France.
Located at 400 meters northwest of Bayon temple, inside Angkor Thom, Baphuon temple was built in 1060 AD as the state temple of King Udayadityavarman II. Baphuon temple faces east in a direct line with the Elephant terraces at the north side, laying within a long enclosure of 425 m x 125 m, and borders the Royal Palace to the north. From the East entrance, Baphuon temple shapes like a big round mountain, while it’s a 37 meters mountain-temple (Prasat Phnom) with five levels. The fifth level height is 24 meters above the ground level. Each level had Gopuras at the cardinal points and has a corner tower at each sub-direction. Since it’s mountain shape, Baphuon was first built to symbolize mount Meru and house a Shivalinga for Hindu religious rituals of the King.

Baphuon Temple, taken from the east entrance before arrive the pavilion on the causeway. July 2011

Zhou Da Guan, the Chinese diplomat who visited Angkor at the end of 13th century, has also described about Baphuon temple in his words that: ” North of the Golden Tower (Bayon Temple) at a distance of about two hundred yards, rises a Tower of Bronze, and even higher than the Golden Tower, a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base.”

According to the stone inscription found around the temple said that, King Udayadityavarman II had constructed a golden mountain in the middle of his capital, and built a gold temple on it to house Shiva linga.

Baphuon Temple front view

Baphuon Temple front view

As long as we step in the temple from the east entrance, we would feel this temple is extremely unique from others. Visitors would walk on a raised causeway toward the temple. The raised causeway is supported by round pillars arranged in three rows, each row has 125 pillars and each pillars was made from a piece of big stone, without any joint. The whole causeway measures 172 meter, and about one meter raised from the ground. Walking on the raised causeway, though it’s just one meter high, I have got the feeling of great pleasure, in which I’m in a high position or a special person who have been admired or respected. The feeling of congratulating from people around who were walking on the ground.

Baphuon Temple, raised causeway from east entrance to the temple

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Angkor Wat Temple is Listed as The Most Attractive Tourist Site Around The World

Angkor Wat Come First Among The Top 20 Most Attractive Tourist Sites

In the late of April 2013, CNN had listed the most powerful world heritage sites which was most attractive to tourists around the world. Below are the top 20 sites of the UNESCO World heritage sites which had been listed in the luxury website VeryFirstTo.com and also noted by CNN. Among these, Angkor Wat temple is staying on top of the listed which is the most beautiful UNESCO World heritage sites in Cambodia.

1. Angkor Wat temple – Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia

Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia. The view of its entrance with the moat.

Angkor Wat temple is the world largest religion monument which was built by Khmer King in Angkor era. The temple was built in the early of 12 century by King Suryavarman II dedicated to Lord Vishnu in Hinduism. Angkor Wat temple is surrounding by the thick forest and its architectural is very interesting.

2. Acropolis – Greece

Acropolis Athen

Acropolis Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a high rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and containing the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The word acropolis comes from the Greek words mean extremity city. Although there is many other Agropolis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as “The Acropolis” without qualification.

3. Bagan – Myanmar

Bayan - The City of Buddhism

Bayan – The City of Buddhism

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar). From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

4. Galápagos Islands – Ecuador

Galapagos Island

Galapagos Island

The Galapagos Islands were discovered by chance on 10 March 1535, when the Dominican friar Fray Tomas de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, went to Peru in pursuance of an order of the Spanish monarch, Charles V, to arbitrate in a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and his subordinates after the conquest of the Inca Empire. Because of calm and strong currents, the ship of the Bishop was dragged to the Galapagos. In chronicling his adventure, directed from Portoviejo Emperor Charles V on the discovery of the Galapagos Islands, Berlanga described the bleak desert conditions in the islands and the giant tortoises that inhabited them. He also described the marine iguanas, sea lions and many types of birds, emphasizing the unusual mildness of animals.

5. Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia – Turkey

Goreme National Park

Göreme national park and the rock sites of Cappadocia

The rupestral sanctuaries of Cappadocia constitute a unique artistic achievement in a region of superlative natural features, providing irreplaceable testimony to post-iconoclast Byzantium. The dwellings, village convents and churches retain the fossilized images of a province of the Byzantine Empire between the 4th century and the Turkish invasion.

The eroded plateau of the Göreme valley is a spectacular example of the effects of differential erosion of the volcanic tuff sediments by wind and water. Typical features are pillars, columns, towers, obelisks and needles that reach heights of 40 m.

6. Great Barrier Reef – Australia

Great Barrier Reef - Australia

Great Barrier Reef – Australia

One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches.

7. Hampi – India

Hampi - India

Hampi – India

Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious center, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.

8. Iguazu National Park – Brazil and Argentina

Iguazu National Park

Iguazu National Park

The Iguaçú National Park owes its name to the fact it includes an important area of the Iguaçú River, approximately 50 km of the length of the river and the world famous Iguaçú Falls. It is the most important part of the Prata Basin and, since it is a haven to a significant genetic asset of animal and vegetate species, it was the first park in Brazil to receive a Management Plan. As foreseen by Rebouças, the park’s basic goal is the preservation of the highly relevant ecologically and scenic natural ecosystems, thus enabling scientific research and the development of environmental education and interpretation activities, recreation in natural surroundings and the ecological tourism.

9. Los Glaciares National Park – Argentina

Los Glaciares National Park

Los Glaciares National Park

The Los Glaciares National Park is an area of exceptional natural beauty, with rugged, towering mountains and numerous glacial lakes, including Lake Argentino, which is 160 km long. At its farthest end, three glaciers meet to dump their effluvia into the milky grey glacial water, launching massive igloo icebergs into the lake with thunderous splashes.

10. Machu Picchu – Peru

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level. Machu Picchu is located in the Cusco Region of Peru, South America. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, it is perhaps the most familiar icon of Inca civilization.

11. Mont-Saint-Michel – France

Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island 247 acres (100 ha) in size, and is a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometer (just over half a mile) off the country’s northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The island’s highest point is 92 meters (301 feet) above sea level. The population of the island is 44, as of 2009.

12. Petra – Jordan

Petra - Jordan

Petra – Jordan

Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an, that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.

13. Pyramids of Giza – Egypt

Pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact. Egyptologists believe that the pyramid was built as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek) over a 10 to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. Initially at 146.5 meters (481 feet), the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface; what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base. There have been varying scientific and alternative theories about the Great Pyramid’s construction techniques. Most accepted construction hypotheses are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.

14. Rapa Nui – Chile

Rapa Nui (Eastern Island)

Rapa Nui (Eastern Island)

Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. A.D. 300 established a powerful, imaginative and original tradition of monumental sculpture and architecture, free from any external influence. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai, which created an unrivaled cultural landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world.

15. Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in Mara Region. It is famous for its annual migration of over 1.5 million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra and for its numerous Nile crocodile.

16. Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Sigiriya - Sri Lanka

Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka in an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, the Culavamsa, the site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 AD) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace were abandoned after the king’s death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.

17. Tulum – Mexico

Cliffs and beach Tulum

Cliffs and beach Tulum

Tulum is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city serving as a major port for Cobá. The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayas; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise. One of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites, Tulum is today a popular site for tourists.

18. Valletta – Malta

Valletta-Malta

Valletta-Malta

Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6, 966. Valletta is the second southernmost capital of the EU member states after Nicosia.

Valletta contains buildings from the 16th century onward, built during the rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as Knights Hospitaller. The city is essentially Baroque in character, with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture in selected areas, though World War II left major scars on the city. The City of Valletta was officially recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.

19. Venice and its lagoon – Italy

Venice and its lagoon

Venice and its lagoon

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges.  It is located in the marshy Venetian Lagoon which stretches along the shoreline, between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. The city in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon.

20. Yellowstone National Park – United States

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.  Yellowstone, widely held to be the first national park in the world, is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, but the sub-alpine forest is dominant.

Phnom Kulen Tourist and Historical Site

Phnom Kulen Attracts All Visitors Who Arrived Siem Reap

Kulen Mountain or Phnom Kulen (ភ្នំគូលែន) is currently an attractive tourist and historical site in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It locates at about 30 km distance from Angkor Wat. “Kulen” is Khmer word means “lychee”, so “Phnom Kulen” means “ mountain of lychees”.

According to Khmer history, Phnom Kulen has been related to the history of creating Angkor Era. The first king of Khmer Empire was Jayavarman II (802-850), who was liberated the two Chenla from the rule of Java and reunited the countries into one kingdom, Khmer Empire.

Kulen Waterfall

Phnom Kulen: The second water fall

In the mission of reunite the kingdom, King Javavarman II has moved from place to place around the country and thus his capital has always been changed. It’s said that he first stayed at Sambhupura (present day Kratie province), then moved to Kote (northern Tonle Sap Lake), Indrapura (Banteay Preinokor, Kampong Cham), Amarendrapura (the western of the West Baray), Mahendrapavata (Phnom Kulen), and his last capital was Hariharalaya (Rolous, Siem Reap).

Mahendrapavata (Phnom Kulen) was a sacred place for worshiping since the time of Jayavarman II, and now it’s till be. It was a place that king Jayavarman II worshipped to Lord Shiva and performed the Devaraja Ceremony, the ceremony that crown the king to be Lord of Universe.

Phnom Kulen is an isolated chain of small mountain plateaux lying south of the Dong Rek Mountain. Its highest point is 487m. Geologically, Phnom Kulen is formed of sandstone and it was an important quarry to get standstone for temple building during Angkor era.

Phnom Kulen has been set as a National Park which is also a natural recreational, tourist and historical site which allow visitors to enjoy. It has been added to UNESCO World Heritage on Sep, 1st 1992 in the cultural category.

Research has proved that Phnom Kulen has been occupied since 8th century and has been a holy mountain for Hindu in Angkor era, after it was the place for king Jayavarman II performing Devaraja ceremony. Until now it’s still the sacred area for Buddhists to worship as well.

Main Sites for Tourist to Visit at Phnom Kulen

Wat Preah Ang Thom

It’s a Buddhist monastery built since 16th century on the hill top of Phnom Kulen. “Preah Ang Thom” means “Large Buddha”. The site has got its name because there is a large statue of 8m high Reclining Buddha carved out from a huge sandstone boulder. The shrine is very narrow, just enough for the statue. Cambodians who visit Phnom Kulen always come to worship at Wat Preah Ang Thom as it’s well known for sacredness. Especially at the weekend and publicholidays, there always very crowded.

Reclining Buddha at Phnom Kulen

Reclining Buddha at Phnom Kulen

At this site, there is also one Buddha Footprint (Preah Bat Chorn Tuk) similar to the one at Phnom Bakheng.

At the foot of the hill, there are many stores selling souvenirs for visitors. Also there are food stores selling lunch, the taste and price are reasonable.

One Thousand Lingas

Thousand of lingas and yoni figures were carved into the sandstone river bed. It was a celebration to turn the waterfall to be holy in Angkor period. Because here is the upper stream, and the water keep flowing to the currently waterfall and finally flow into Siem Reap river.

Phnom Kulen One Thousand Lingas

Phnom Kulen: One Thousand Lingas, linga and yuni figured carved into the sandstone river bed.

The water which running across the lingas is considered to be holy. Local visitors come to wash their face or even drink it for good blessings. Some people bottled the water home for family members who couldn’t come.

Terrace of Preah Ang Sdach Kum Lung

The field for car parking when you visit One Thousand Lingas, is the called the Terrace of Preah Ang Sdach Kum Lung. At the center of the site, a base of a small brick tower can be found. It was originally a shrine of a sacred indigenous deity, Preah Ang Sdach Kum Lung, which until now Khmer people still worship him. A statue of Preah Ang Sdach Kum Lung is located in Phnom Penh, in front of Wat Ounalom.

Kulen Waterfall

For most visitors who come again and again to Phnom Kulen are to enjoy bathing waterfall. It’s the most attractive reason for local visitors to Phnom Kulen.

Kulen Waterfall

Phnom Kulen: The first waterfall, crowded on public holidays.

There are two waterfall at Kulen mountain, one small with 4-5 m high, diameter of 20-25 m. And one big with 15-20 m high, diameter of 10-15 m. Around the site, there are wooden huts arranged for visitors to sit and have lunch. Of course, we must order foods from huts owner or we have to pay the hut renting fee.

Phnom Kulen Waterfall

Phnom Kulen Waterfall: People enjoy bathing and taking picture with waterfall.

It’ recommended to allow one full day visiting Phnom Kulen, so that you can enjoy bathing waterfall and eating foods of rural flavor, especially roasted chicken. At around 3pm, visitors should prepare going back, because it’s difficult to drive along the forest when it’s nearly dark.

Preah Vihear Sosor Mouy Roy

The 100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

Preah Vihear Sosor Mouy Roy or The 100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom locates on the eastern part of the Mekong River bank in Sambor commune, Sambor district, Kratie Province (36km from Kratie provincial). It’s one of important tourism and cultural sites of the province which attracted many visitors every year. If we just spend time seeing the views around the site, we might feel that the trip is not special. But whenever we learned about the story related to the site told by tourist guide or the elders in the Wat, will make your visit become more interesting. Because this site contain a legend or could be a real story had happened in the past. Beside the 100-Pillar Viheara, within the site there is a stupa containing remains of a princess which was a daughter of a Khmer King in the 16th century. Everything at the site that is exist now are related to a story as below.

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

Preah Vihear Sosor Mouy Roy or 100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

History of 100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

Preah Ang Chan Reachea or Preah Ang Chan I was a Khmer King who reigned from 1516 until 1566. He was the builder of Longvek City (currently become a commune in Kampong Chhnang province, about 70 km from Phnom Penh). Preah Ang Chan Reachea has been regarded as the most capable King among the kings reigned after Angkor period.

Preah Ang Chan Reachea has a beautiful and lovely daughter named Vorpheak, but she was well known among the citizens as Preah Neang Krapum Chhouk (Lotus Princess). There was once the king had asked the royal prophet to predict the fate of the princess. The prophet claimed that her life would be in danger after her 16th birthday, she would be killed by a crocodile.

One day at her 16 years old, she became very sick which there is no one can cure. Now the king again invited the royal prophet to help him finding the best healer who can help his daughter out of illness. The royal prophet suggested to set up a group of people to walk from place to place around the kingdom while beating drums. If there is someone ask question about the drum beating sound, then that person is capable of curing the illness of Vorpheak princess.

Looking for a Capable Healer

After many days of searching for the best healer, finally when the royal delegation group arrived Wat Neaksen (locates in Chroy Banteay commune, Prek Prasob district, Kratie province), there was a monk questioned them of why they were beating drums. After listened to them, the monk agreed to go with them to the royal palace.

The monk was the head-monk of Wat Neaksen, so before leaving for the royal palace, he called all his disciple monks to leave some words with them. Nen Thun was his beloved principle, so the head-monk give him the key to his room and told him to clean the room as well as take good care of all his belongings, especially one special cabinet which he didn’t allow to open.

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom: The statue of princess Vorpheak was built and dedicated in January 2012

Nen Thun Didn’t Obey His Master’s Words

Because of curiosity, as soon as the head-monk left, Nen Thun opened the special cabinet and found a bible which described special method of disguising oneself into various types of animal. He found it’s very interesting and have tried the method of becoming a crocodile.

Nen Thun Tried What He Has Learned

Many days later, Nen Thun wanted to try the method which he had learned in front of the other monks in the Wat. Nen Thun talked to the young monks that whenever he became a crocodile, they must beat his head using a kind of carrying tool made by bamboo called dang rek, so that he would return to the form of human. So he tried and succeed. But then, the monks told him that the crocodile which he transformed was too small, and they challenge him to make a bigger one. Nen Thun agreed to try again, this time, the crocodile was very much bigger than a common crocodile. Because it’s too big, all the young monks were frightened and ran away, so no one stay to help Nen Thun returning to human form.

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom: The statue of Nen Thun in the form of crocodile

Nen Thun, in the form of the crocodile, then jumped into the river nearby and was thinking of what to do so that he could become a human being. Many times he tried to approached the bank looking for help, but no one dared to be near him. He knew that the head-monk could help him but only within 7 days. But it’s was over 7 days now so he stayed in the river waiting for the head-monk to return.

Upon the head-monk’s return, he learned about Nen Thun, his beloved principle. He called Nen Thun to meet him and said: it’s too late to help you to become a human being now. But I give you the magic power, so you are more powerful then a normal crocodile.

Nen Thun Become a Vehicle for His Master

After the first time healing, the princess did not fully recover yet, so the head-monk was invited again to the royal palace. This time, instead of taking the boat sent by the King, the head-monk used his own transport. Since Nen Thun has become a crocodile he has become his master’s vehicle. So this trip to the royal palace, the head-monk ride on the crocodile.

It took many days for each time’s curing. While his master was staying in the royal palace, Nen Thun was living under the royal residence port. It was very bored for him, so he thought of return to the Wat visiting his young-monk friends.

One day, the head-monk took a bath in the river nearby the royal port. Nen Thun came near him and offered a ride around the port. Because he was thinking of going to the Wat, Nen Thun took this chance and started to swim toward Wat Neaksen while the head-monk didn’t notice.

The fight between Nen Thun and Neak Ta crocodile

On his way back in the Mekong River, Nen Thun met another powerful Neak Ta crocodile at Phnom Sopor Kaley (currently locates in Prek Prasob district, Kratie province). The Neak Ta crocodile saw Nen Thun and wanted to have a fight, so it run after him. Nen Thun didn’t want to fight, he tried to swim faster to escape. But the Neak Ta crocodile didn’t give up, until Nen Thun decided to take the fight. However, his master was on his back, he decided to swallow him to protect him while fighting, and he was permitted to do so.

The fight lasted for seven days and seven nights. Both crocodiles showed considerable strength in fighting each other. The fight was surprised many people, they came to witness it along the river bank. At last, the Neak Ta crocodile was defeated. Nen Thun was hurry to continue his trip to the Wat. On arrived, he regurgitated his master, but unfortunately, he died.

Nen Thun was said to be a murderer

The monks and the villagers were sorrowful because of the lose of their most respectful master. Nen Thun had never thought that swallowing his master could lead to his death, he was just afraid that his master might fall from his back during the fight. Apart from feeling hurt, Nen Thun was blamed by the monks and villagers.

Nen Thun did not accept that it was his mistake that caused his master died. He started to consider for what is the real causes. In the end, he concluded that it was because of the princess. If the head-monk did not go to cure the sickness of the princess, this incident would never happened. Thought so, Nen Thun decided to take revenge by killing the princess.

The Revenge of Nen Thun

When he reached the royal port, Nen Thun hid himself and waited for a good chance. After recovered from her sickness, Vorpheak wanted to take bath in the river. But the King did not allow, because it was predicted that her life would be ended in the river by a crocodile. Anyway, after too much insisted, the King gave his permission. He ordered the entourage to fence off part of the river for the princess to bath in the mean of offering security.

Unfortunately for the princess, Nen Thun was already under the port before they fenced the area. The day he waited so long has arrived. As long as the princess went into the water, Nen Thun rushed toward her and swallowed her. He then broke the fence and escaped.

The King was very shocked and extremely angry. He asked the royal prophet to find ways getting back his daughter and kill the crocodile. The royal prophet suggested to make a praying ceremony and floating the magic kantong (a container make of banana leaves in cone-shape). The kantong will show them where was the crocodile, if the crocodile stopped, it stop, and if the crocodile moves, the kantong also moves.

The Mekong River looking from Preah Vihear Sosor Mouy Roy

The Journey of Seeking for Nen Thun

The royal soldiers taking boats after the kantong from place to place. The King has also taken a boat to search for his daughter. Started from the royal port on the Tonle Sap River, the kantong floated against the flow of the Mekong River. As directed by the kantong, they found the crocodile at Prek Chhlong (a branch of Mekong River). The soldiers tried to use various tool to caught the crocodile, but he was big and powerful, so he escaped again into the Mekong River.

People tried to used bamboo to block the crocodile from moving further in some points of the Mekong River, but the fence couldn’t stop Nen Thun. There are many places were named after the events of people tried to catch Nen Thun and his subsequent escapes. Those names are still using until today such as: Kampi, Prek Char Thnoal, O’pak, Koh Sampor, etc.

Finally, Nen Thun was exhausted for travelling a long distance to escape from rivers to lakes and even crawling through the land. He ended up staying in Lumpors, a deep and long lake. The King order his soldiers dive into the water and chase out the crocodile, when he appeared on the water surface with his mouth open, the soldiers threw coconuts into his mouth, so that he could not bite and then caught him alive.

At this moment, the royal prophet said the princess could be alive if the crocodile were allowed to regurgitate her. The King was so upset and died to see his daughter. He did not care about what the royal prophet said, he ordered to cut the crocodile’s belly and take the princess out. As long as the dead body of the princess was taken out, her body was till warm enough. Now it was too late for the King to regret.

Vorpheak princess was cremated at Lumphat, the ceremony was prepared under the royal standard. The King decided to use the crocodile skin to make a funeral flag to signaling that his daughter was killed by the crocodile. Even though the crocodile flag has been used for the funerals since Buddha’s time, but the incident happened in Preah Ang Chan Reachea’s time has reinforced the practices in Khmer society and it has been maintained until today. We would see a white cloth made into the shape of a crocodile, hanging in front of which house is having a funeral.

Seeking for The Place to Enshrined the Remains of the Princess

For seeking the destined place to enshrined the remain of princess Vorpheak, the King using kantong floating along the river. It’s believed that the suitable place would bring peace to her soul as well as bring happiness to her relative who are living. The kantong floated down the river and has finally stopped at Sambor village. So this place was selected to build a stupa for princess Vorpheak. The stupa made of bricks which are larger and longer than the bricks in the present day.

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom: The stupa containing princess Vorpheak’s remains

According to the inscription in front of the stupa said that it was built in 1529 and enshrined princess Vorpheak’s remains as well as many other royal relatives included the later Kings after Preah Ang Chan Reachea such as:

  • Barom Reachea V or Satha I, grand son of Preah Ang Chan, (1576-1595)
  • Chey Chetha I (1586-1594)
  • Preah Reach Samphea Chao Ponhea To or Thomareachea II (1629-1634)

The incription also added that the stupa had been renovated in 1955 by HRH Norodom Sihanouk and inaugurated on April 30, 1956.

The Construction of the 100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

Beside the stupa, Preah Ang Chan Reachea also built a ceremony shelter next to it. It was built consisting of 100 pillars with thatch roofing. It is said that 100 of princess Vorpheak’s virgin maids voluntarily committed suicide to take care of her by having each of their souls embedded into the 100 pillars. The royal prophet (known as Ta Tos) and the highest military commander Ta Kbal Prambei also committed suicide to protect her. During that time, the ceremony shelter was named Preah Vihear Thom, and later was renamed as 100-pillar Preah Vihear Thom.

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom

100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom: The new built viheara since 1996

Not so long after that, the 100-pillar Preah Vihear Thom was badly burned by a thunderstorm, 28 pillars were destroyed. The Budha statue inside this viheara was also some how damaged and it was totally damaged during the Khmer Rouge period.

Later on, the 100-Pillar Preah Vihear Thom was completely rebuilt. It has 116 concrete pillars with beautiful design. The efforts are from the Wat’s monks, the villagers, people from around the country as well as from oversea, and the leaders of the Royal Government of Cambodia.The new built viheara was inaugurated on January 14, 1997.

Preah Vihear Temple Cambodia

Preah Vihear Temple – UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia

Preah Vihear Temple is one of the most significant Angkorian Temples in Cambodia. It’s also become the symbol and pride of Cambodia like Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap as well. The original name of Preah Vihear Temple was Sri Kirisvara, the name of Shiva linga which was dedicated in the main sanctuary of the mountain top. Despite the dispute over the ownership of the temple between Cambodia and Thailand, Preah Vihear Temple has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 7th 2008.

How to Access Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple is located in Preah Vihear Province (the province has its name after Preah Vihear Temple), in northern of Cambodia which is now the border of Cambodia and Thailand.
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Kirirom National Park

My Weekend at Kirirom National Park

Kirirom was the first official designated national park and has become the protected area together with Bokor National Park, Kep National Park, and Ream National Park under the Royal Decree by King Norodom Sihanouk dated November 01, 1993. The area has several mountain ranks and contains many small lakes and waterfalls. Because of the natural view of Kirirom, the place became a popular weekend getaway site for people from Phnom Penh city.

Kirirom National Park locates 112 km from Phnom Penh city, the park cover an area of 35.000 hectares which mostly are within Kampong Speur province. Kirirom Mountain (its common name) is about 675 m high, has got its name as KIRIROM in the 1930s by King Sisovath Monivong. The name can be translated as the Mountain of Joy, while Kiri means mountain and Rom mean pleasure. However, the area has its ancient name as Phnom Vorvong Sorvong which refered to the two mountains associated with a Khmer legend. After it has become National Park, the official name is Preah Soramrit Kosamak Kirirom National Park.

The attraction of Kirirom is its natural beautiful scenery well known pine forest which made it unique from other hills in Cambodia. The high of the mountain made it has got a cooler weather in which suitable for pine trees to grow. I’ve been to Kirirom National Park many times in the 2000s. But today I visit it again after six years and this time I was a driver.

Road to top of Kirirom Mountain

Road to top of Kirirom Mountain (at the mountain foot). There are small forest trees, but not pine tree.

Leaving Phnom Penh for about 112 km, at your right, there is a sign board to turn. It’s easy to recognize as there are many houses and vendors selling drinks and fruits along the road. After turn right there is a small local market which visitors can buy their foods for lunch from here. Or they can buy it when they have reached the waterfall on the mountain.

After the turn from the national road 4, I spent one and half hour to drive up the mountain. The road up there was constructed in the reign of King Sihanouk when he built his summer rest house on the mountain top. The road is still in good condition until today, only some places has damaged.

At the mountain foot are fruit farms of papaya, mango, jackfruit, dragon fruit, and many others. Visitors can enjoy taking some pictures of those fruit trees too. Especially, from here we can have a nice picture of Kirirom Mountain in the whole. After passing the farms, we started the journey into the forest. Both sides of the road are forest trees and we mostly driving in the shade. We felt that we’re really in the jungle as cicadas on the trees kept singing loudly as if to welcome all of us to their home. After sometimes we see part of forest get burned. During the hot season, fire might be started because of the hot weather. During the raining season all nature are especially green which created pleasure when we be in it. However, today we also can see new green leaves growing out from branches; it was raining a few days ago. After a while, we stop and get off the care to take some pictures. There are several hills connected together, so stand on one hill we can have another one as the background of our pictures.

Kirirom National Park

Pine trees growing in lines adorn our way.

There is a newly built recreation center on half way to the top. They have various games and offer rooms to stay overnight.

There are two Buddhist monastery built on the mountain, we can also spend a visit and make praying. Later on we see some houses of villagers at the road sides, only several family live here.

The appearance of the pine trees let us know that we are at a higher level of mountain. They are growing straight and high into the sky on the hills along the road. Driving further, pine trees are in lines adorn our path, it’s a great natural view.

Kirirom National Park

Pine trees growing on green grass hills along the way up.

Before we reach the waterfall, we must pass a quite hard road of some km. It was Sunday and we can see about 30 cars at the parking place. Many thatch roofed huts are built for rent to visitors. The owners also offer foods and drinks. There are other vendors selling local snacks and cakes, however, it’s very few compare to Oudong Mountain.

Kirirom National Park

Huts are built around a lake near the waterfall for renting to visitors

In the last few years, most people visit Kirirom on purpose to bath the waterfall. But today, the water are not clean enough for bathing. Because in dry season the water is less and the flow is weak. So after lunch, we just spend time to walk around in the nature under pine trees.

Kirirom National Park

The water is less and the flow is weak during dry season.

The previous Royal rest house was damaged during the Khmer Rouge regime. Then it was renovated and functions as a museum. But today we don’t have time to visit there, so we don’t have picture for you.

We drive off the mountain at 3pm and the way down is somehow faster than when we climb up. It was a great holiday for us to spend time with nature at Kirirom National Park. We surely come back after sometime, maybe in this coming raining season to enjoy the waterfall.

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