January 13, 2009

Preah Vihear temple and the coming victory

The loud voices shouted ‘Cheyo Prasath Preah Vihear Khmer’ meaning ‘Bravo Preah Vihear, Khmer temple,’ and some Khmer National songs were proudly sung by the local youths, children and adults. All of these voices came from the heart of the 14 million Cambodians of the nation when they found out that the ‘Preah Vihear Temple’ had been successfully registered in the World Heritage List on 7 July 2008. From the capital city of Phnom Penh, to provincial towns and to all the small villages and pagodas, there was celebrating and a victory party throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia.

This victory for Preah Vihear Temple is breaking news and disconnected from the party politics of the national election 2008.
Over the weeks, all the talk was about the Preah Vihear registration news. Also, the media were all busy sending each other messages of congratulations for the listing of the Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.

But on the other side of the border, a group of Thais who were unaware of the history and pronouncements of international law came over to the gate of Preah Vihear temple to complain, to make noise and to ignore all the facts, reality and even international law. The most obstreperous, pro-Thai protestors were shouting in Thai to the effect that ‘Preah Vihear temple belongs to Thailand. Why did UNESCO give it away to Cambodia?’

This group of Thailand boosters seemed to have just awaked from a nightmare after over 50 years of dreaming when the Siam army occupied Preah Vihear temple in the late 1950s. Even the International Court of Justice ruled that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia but the Thai boosters seemed to be blissfully unaware of this reality.
After the French colonialists gave full independence to Cambodia in 1954, the Thai army invaded and for several years occupied Preah Vihear temple. Then the Royal Government of Sangkum Reastr Nyum, led by King Norodom Sihanouk, brought this case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague in the Netherlands. After few years and an investigation, on 15 June 1962, the International Court of Justice decided that the Preah Vihear Temple belonged to Cambodia.
Many Thai people are still upset at this loss in the International Court. The Thais even tried to impede the Royal Government of Cambodia in preparing the documents to bring the Preah Vihear temple into the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. But unluckily for the Thais, the 37th meeting of UNESCO’s committee in Quebec, Canada, decided to register the Preah Vihear Temple in the World Heritage List.
This caused the Thais almost uncontrollable anger.
At 15 July 2008, three Thais stepped over the border at midnight and were caught by the Cambodian authorities. This was reported to the Thai government. Then some Thai military men stepped onto Cambodia territory and one was injured by a land mine. This sudden loss of face was too much for their army commanders and this changed everything. They decided to occupy the Sekha Kriri Svara pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple and claim the land as Thai.
Since then, the Thai military have been increasing their troops to thousands of soldiers fully equipped and with modern weapons. For all practical purposes, this is an invasion. We must now ask why the Thais created this scene?

Thais are Buddhist people and yet they have occupied this Khmer Buddha pagoda. It has always been a safe haven for people to get dharma, meditate and pray. But the Thai soldiers have converted the temple into a battlefield. Their excuse was, "We just came to protect our protestors who have a lot to complain about in this Preah Vihear temple case."

Why did the Thai military come to take Cambodia land? What is the reason? Why don’t they just take their own land?
At 6:03 pm, 17 July 2007: In the pagoda, all seemed normal. A group of monks were finishing up chanting the dharma in the main building and some them went to bed. In the Preah Vihara building, a small group of monks with a few old people starting more dharma chanting. A Khmer photojournalist was taking photographs with the monks and went out of the pagoda and put on his shoes.
Suddenly there were a few loud commands in the Thai language from the army leader. Some of the troops ran up to him and he shouted another order. The soldiers ran back to their original places and grabbed their weapons and ran for local cover in the pagoda area. The Thai soldiers who had been eating, threw away their plates, grabbed their weapons and ran for cover among the big stones of the temple. They took their weapons from ‘safe’ to ‘fire’ and pointed them to the other side of the road where a photojournalist was walking and carrying few cameras.
"Please, do not shoot because the monks are chanting the Buddha dharma in the Vihara. Today is the Buddhist day; we are all brothers in Buddhism. Please keep the peace!" said the photojournalist and walked out in front of the soldiers guns.

Crossing over the pagoda gate, the photojournalist said to the Khmer army, "Please go to a safe place quickly and prepare to fight. But we are peaceful Khmer so just take cover and see if they open fire. Then we can react. Above all, try to keep the peace!"
All of the Khmer army men ran from their dinner to take cover but without their weapons, a bad situation.
Inside the pagoda, few Thai soldiers even interrogated the lady who cooks for the monks, their guns pointed at her.
Then the two armies pointed their guns at each other and the Khmer elderly ran out of the pagoda to tell the people outside. The Thai army was surrounded and pointing their guns at the Khmer.
At about 7:30 pm there was trouble again. Both the Thai and Khmer soldiers were coming out from around the pagoda and keying their weapons from ‘safe’ to ‘fire’. The leaders of both sides were hard talking to each other in order to find a peaceful solution. This included phone communication between the commanders on each side. A solution was found when the Khmer side agreed to move the army away from inside the pagoda.
On 18 July, H.E. Phay Siphan, spokesman of Council Ministers House of the Royal Government of Cambodia brought a group of Cambodian national journalists and international media persons to the Preah Vihear temple. The press conference took place in front of the Sekha Kiri Svara pagoda on the edge of the battlefield. "I came here to bring my Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen’s message to every one here, to keep peace."
During this, Khann Yon, 40, head monk of Skha Kiri Svara pagoda came to the conference and suggested to the Thai army leader, "I would like you take all your troops outside our pagoda. We need the pagoda to pray for Buddha’s dharma and for our people to perform their Buddhism ceremonies."
Lt. Chhayan Sun Naneon, who was the Thai army leader there, said, "Yes, we agree with you. After this conference we are prepared to move." Everybody was happy and gave him a big hand.
But about two hours later, about 60 new soldiers were added for a total of over 500 troops in the Skha Kiri Svara pagoda. Then the Thai commander said that they would not leave the pagoda, "We will wait for our top commander to find a solution for us," he said. "And never mind about this agreement 2 hours ago!"
The situation went from bad to worse. Both sides started to take up positions and wait!
On 21 July, a meeting between Cambodians and Thais was set up in Srah Keo province of Thailand near the border of Banteay Mean Chey province. A day long meeting seemed unnecessary but they agreed no fighting. Instead of this, Thai troops massed by the thousands near the Preah Vihear temple and the Thai army was in a fighting mood while the Cambodias were preparing to resist. But the Cambodian side constantly tried to be peaceful accordingly to their leader’s orders.
Ever since the Cambodian Military sent troops to protect the Preah Vihear temple area, CTN television, and other television stations, including several radio stations broadcasted requests for donated aid and gifts to be distributed to the Cambodian military opposing the Thais. Many charities funded and collected large amounts of gifts, food, medicine and other necessities. All this demonstrates that Cambodians love their Preah Vihear temple and they honestly share their hearts with the Khmer military for protecting the temple and homeland from foreign incursion.
Instead of sending gifts to the collectors, more and more Khmer people went to the temple area to donate their gifts directly and to daily visit the Khmer soldiers at the Preah Vihear temple.
The inscriptions recorded in the Preah Vihear temple went deep into Khmer dynasty history and culture back to ancient times. This temple construction began in the 9th century by King Yasovaraman I, then continued by King King Suryavarman I, King Udayadityavarman II, King Jayavarman VI, and was finished by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. In the year of 1016 King Suryavaraman I, celebrating his official royal ceremony for Preah Vihear Temple, which was originally named ‘Sri Sekharisvara’ according to the main Siva God name.
With these inscriptions together with the Khmer history books written by Khmer scholars as well as some books by European scholars, it can be clearly understood that the Preah Vihear temple was build by ethnic Khmers and that this temple was finished about 200 years before the new migrant ethic group called the ‘Siamese’ race established themselves in our nation after they robbed power from the local Khmer Governor in the Sukhothai area, all in the 13th century.
"Normally, all of the inscriptions in every Khmer temple ended by our ancestors stating at the end of each script ‘we announce to all people who are builders and protectors to take care of these temples and be reborn in paradise. But for destroyers or even those who think bad thoughts, their family relationships will get bad luck and they will be stuck in hell for ever’," professor Sotheara said. •
PREAH VIHEAR, Mountain of the Gods
Preah Vihear, one the most remarkable achievements of the ancient Khmers, still sees few visitors. Hopefully the floodgates are about to open as the site was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List this year, 2008.
Preah Vihear is a triumph of art and architecture, a cultural jewel with a history spanning millennia. Countless pilgrims and monarchs have made the long journey to pray there, though camera toting tourists have replaced the ragged mendicants of the past.
Now accessible from Siem Reap/Angkor, Preah Vihear temple is located in the Dang Rek mountain range in the far north and was only reopened to visitors in 2003
H.E. Chhuch Phoeun, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said he thought Preah Vihear was added onto UNESCO’s list because it meets all criteria of integrity, outstanding universal value, and protection and management. "Now that our temple is listed, we will benefit greatly especially in the tourism sector," he said.
H.E. Hang Soth, Deputy Director of the Preah Vihear Authority, he said that "I agreed with H.E Phoeun. Preah Vihear temple is qualified to be on the world heritage list because it is wonderful and should be compared to a priceless diamond,"
"Moreover, since Preah Vihear was included on the world heritage list this year (2008), it will be the second destination for tourists after Angkor Wat and living conditions for people in the Preah Vihear area will be much improved," H.E. Soth said.
He explained that a site could be included on the world heritage list only if it is a masterpiece of human creative genius, a unique testimony to a cultural tradition or civilization, an outstanding architectural or technological ensemble, or a landscape illustrating a significant stage in human history. "Protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations," H.E. Soth added.
H.E. Pich Keo, former professor of the Royal University of Fine Arts, said that for almost 1200 years, Preah Vihear has dominated the surrounding plateaus. The arduous struggle of construction was a major feat of engineering. "Ten ancient Kings were involved in the construction but most work was done by only six of them," he said.
The temple was begun by King Yasovarman I (889-910 AD). He built the foundations and the eastern stairs which rise nearly a kilometer from the forested plains. King Suryavarman I, (1002-1050) and his son King Udayadityavarman II (1050-1068) carried on, laying out most of the monolithic features present today. King Jayavarman VI (1080-1107), King Dharanindravarman I (1107-1112), and King Suryavarman II (1113-1150) added the finishing touches.
"Two kings spent much more time building than the rest," said Pich. "The father and son kings, that is King Suryavaraman I and his son King Udayadityavarman II, were great architects. They put in the walkways, the stairs, the walls – all these structures were carved out of mountain stone to be part of the temple."
"It is easy to see which parts were installed by Suryavaraman and Udayadityavarman as their artistic style is very distinctive," Pich explained.
"The parts of the temple built by these kings are mostly the same," he said. "On the Pder [gate lintels] of the temple they use the Kleang temple style, an interesting art style including lion heads in the center. The father [King Suryavaraman I] depicts lion tongues as leaves, but for the son [King Udayadityavarman II’s], lions have no tongues."
Some information about the pair was gleaned from temple inscriptions although detective work was required. "Even temple inscriptions didn’t tell us that the two kings were related," said Pich. "My experience tells me that the smooth continuation of art characteristics means it’s sure that these kings were both from the same blood, or we can say ‘father and son kings’."
Former Deputy Director of National Committee for UNESCO, Dr. Micheal Tranet said the temple’s orientation is a clue to its function. "Preah Vihear faces north across the ex-Khmer provinces now in north-east and central Thailand," Tranet explained. "They selected this mountain to construct the temple as being the center of the ancient Khmer Kingdom. It signifies the central power of the king."
As well as status symbol and central marker, the temple is also a monument to religious tolerance. "The Preah Vihear temple was dedicated to Shiva, a god of the Brahman religion, but it was not cut off from Buddhism because most of the kings who helped to build this temple understood Buddhism," Tranet said.
Ros Samphal, Director of the Department of Culture and Fine Arts of Preah Vihear province, said the temple’s layout is complex. It has four levels from the top, with four courtyards, each containing five Gopuras (entrance pavilions). Preah Vihear temple became a place of pilgrimage and worship for kings and commoners alike, as it is a stylized representation of Mount Meru, home of the Hindu gods.
"Each level has a different name and the architecture is also very different," Samphal explained. "Level one, or the main temple, is called Prasat Banteay [fortress temple]. The main building of the temple has many complex partitions and roofs, similar in style to Angkor Wat. Level two has entrances with marvelous Pder, including decorations describing the Churning of the Ocean Milk [a Hindu creation myth]."
"Level three, called Prasat Srah Srang [temple of the bathing pond], has a deep stone-lined pond that still holds water. Many entrances have beautifully decorated Pder showing scenes of wrestling and a script explaining the temple’s symbolism," Samphal said. "The fourth level has collapsed though the fifth level remains and is home to two Dragonairs – mythical monsters that protect Preah Vihear temple."
Samphal said Preah Vihear was the holiest of holies in ancient Cambodia, adding that "We know it as ‘Kampoul Mahidhirith,’ meaning ‘the pinnacle of the supreme power of the mountain,’ and ‘Atitep Kampoul Phnom,’ meaning ‘the mountain of the gods.’"

Visiting a Krama manufacturing village at Koh Dach

Cambodian farmers make traditional Krama all throughout the kingdom but for day tripping, it may convenient to visit several interesting places such as Pea-ream and Thnoat communes in Bati district, and Tang Yab and Say-va commune in the Samrong district of Takeo province. Or go to Prek Chang-kran commune, Sithor Kandal district of Prey Veng province, but the closest Krama makers are on Koh Dach village-island.

Koh Dach village, well know as a ‘weaving handicraft village,’ is on one of the largest islands located on the Upper Mekong, with a length of 12 kilometres. The island is located in Koh Dach commune, Mukh Kampool district. Koh Dach is about 10 kilometres from Phnom Penh.
The Koh Dach villagers have retained their traditional lifestyle based around their main handicraft, traditional silk weaving, Pha-muong, Hol, Krama and cotton clothes. Visitors walking the villager trail around the island will hear the sound of looms emerging from every house. Some houses have 5-10 looms and all the family members are weavers. From eight to eighty years of age, all the family play a role in production. As a result, much of the silk, Pha-muong, Hol and Kramar products for sale in the Phnom Penh markets originated in the Koh Dach villages, all of it hand made and of fine quality.
Beside the production of handicrafts, the residents of Koh Dach are also excellent gardeners, producing a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits. The geography of Koh Dach Island varies. Though 12 kilometres long, some areas are only 100 meters wide and 2,500 meters wide elsewhere. The land is home to thousands of Khmer traditional houses and three ancient pagodas, each with a long history set in a traditional context. A visit to Koh Dach will give you a better understanding of Cambodian life than any other area surrounding the capital. You will take away lasting memories of the arts and lives of Cambodian people, happily co-existing with nature and traditional values.

Cambodia’s Pristine Coastline

The Kingdom of Cambodia has about 450 kilometers long treasure, its spectacular natural coastline. From Koh Kong province in the west to Kampot province in the South-west, the coast is a mix of national parks, fine sandy beaches and picturesque coastal villages. In the seas off Cambodia's shores are dozens of unspoiled islands, each surrounded by crystal clear waters teeming with marine life and coral reefs.

For the tourist, it is a vast resource waiting to be explored. With those amazing nature resources, Kingdom of Cambodia invites visitors to enjoy and relax on one of the many beautiful beaches which line the Southern Cambodia coasts at Kep, Kampot, Sihanouk Ville, and the southwestern coast of Koh Kong province.
In Sihanoukville, there are the homeland of white sand beaches of O’Cheouteal, Independence, Victory beaches, and O’Tress etc. For those interested in peace and a clean natural environment, away from the masses. Such as O'Tress Beach is an ideal haven. The beach is a 10-minute motorbike or car trip south of the popular O'Chheuteal Beach.

‘O’Tress’ is a hidden nature beauty, its clean beach and seas backed by tall trees. Offshore from the beach are the islands of Koh Tress, Koh Russey and Koh Ta Keav.
There’re a few restaurants run by locals and foreigners, are beginning to open to provide sustenance to visitors.

Today, Sihanouk Ville is the second largest city in the kingdom and is famous for the natural beauty of its beaches and islands. The town too is the location of the countries international sea-port, the trade gateway which links the country with the rest of the world.
Recently, the port is also an international checkpoint for foreigners arriving by sea. Tourism ships increasingly are using the port as a stop-over point. If you visit Cambodia’s coastal capital, you should not miss the seafood food available there. The fish are caught locally and renown for their good taste and deliciousness.

Off the southern coast are largely areas of colorful coral reef and abundant fish life. These waters off Sihanouk Ville and Koh Kong province are a treasure for divers and snorkelers. So to are the islands of Koh Ta Keav, Koh Rusey, Koh Rong and Koh Kong.

Kbal Chay Waterfalls
North along Hun Sen Drive, a few kilometers past the Caltex Oil Depot there is a turnoff, a rough dirt road leads inland for several kilometers again to the base of a set of spectacular waterfalls. Locals have only recently made this a popular picnic spot because of its remote location and former security problems during the 1990’s
It remains unspoilt, although the road is acceptable and should only be attempted in a four-wheel drive or by experienced bike riders after rain. These powerful falls boast a series of deep pools and white water cascades. When attempting to walk up the falls, beware of the barbed hooks set up by fishermen in some of the cascades.

O’Russey Kandal Becomes Popular

The trend of the people in the world today is to travel. The number of visitors increases yearly both domestically and overseas. When people want to relax, they travel to other places especially to those with natural beauty. In order to serve the needs of these tourists, many areas are being preserved and developed in remote areas in the northeast of Cambodia.

Mr. Thok Sokhom, former Acting Team Leader of Mekong Tourism Development Project and Deputy Director of Mekong Discovery Trail said "Among the eco-tourism destinations in Cambodia, Stung Treng province is one of the great potential areas, with untouched natural beauty containing O’Russey Kandal, O’Svay and Preah Rumkel communities."
"These eco-communities were put as the begining line for conservation their nature beauty and rehabuilitation for communities to served as the tourist needs," Sokhom said. Today, the Royal Government of Cambodia is concentrate for promoting eco-tourism there. There’re many constructing linking infrastructures to those destinations.

In the purpose to develop eco-tourism, local committees in the O’Russey Kandal area and at Sopheakmith, organized their areas to become attractive destinations for both local visitors and foreign tourists.
Mlup Baitong’s project coordinator, Mr. Nov Kosal, said "Mlup Baitong encourages communities by providing them environmental training courses such as community leadership skills, how to protect environment, how to serve guests and food sanitation."
"In order to build huts for the tourists, the community asked for money from Baitong. Baitong checked to see if this was a reasonable proposal.
We will provide them the money, referring to our project as the ‘Micro-Project’. So far we have built eight cottages on various waterfronts."
From his observation, most of visitors from Stung Treng province, Kratie and Phnom Penh also come daily to visit O’Russey Kandal, just 27 kilometers from the town. On the weekend, around 15-20 motorists visit here. But for national festivals like Khmer New Year, Phum Ben day or the Water Festival, there are thousands of local tourists visiting.
"For guest safety, we have check points, parking shelters and information centers. We have 5036 hectares of conservative lands and forests along the waterfall," he said.

Mr. Nov Kosal clarified, "by seeing the potential of attracting visitors, the Ministry of Tourism is encouraging the development of this place. Even the Minister of Tourism himself has visited this area.
Mrs. Seum Chanthan, 55 years old and chief of cooks in O’Russey Kandal resort,
said "I am so happy that this place near my village has become an attractive site for tourists. It paves the way for me to sell my products. Before, I grew potatoes, coconuts, bananas and other vegetables to sell in the province [Stung Treng]. Now I can sell them here."
She added that at every National festival, she could earn 500.000 to 600.000 riel per day [$125-$250] just by cooking food for the visitors. With this income, my family’s living conditions are better.

Before Mlup Baitong came to help the community, at every national festival, the commune chief solicited private bids for organization and control. Since Mlup Baitong has arrived to help develop eco-tourism, there is more community organization.
At the time of the tourist increase in the O’Russey Kandal area, Mlup Baitong provided English classes for young boys and girls so that they could be guides.
An indigenous 16 year old girl, Rom Sokna, said, "I study in grade 7. I am very happy that the Mlup Baitong organization provides English classes for me free of charge.
I love nature very much because my family is located a rich, forest region. In the future, if this region becomes popular, I will show the visitors the importance of nature."
Hout Sokny, another school girl, said, "The first thing I tell visitors here is to conserve nature and not destroy the forest. I think the forest is crucial for human and animal life. In order to help my village, I will study hard."
Chhor Lakkhina, 15, is studying English with other students so that they can be guides in the future. She said that English is very important for her to improve her general knowledge of the environment.
Both government officials and the various private sectors expect that the increasing numbers of tourists will spread to their area because this place is next to the newly constructed national road 7. Besides culture, Cambodia still has many eco-tourism areas to attract domestic and foreign visitors, particularly in the Northeast.

A tour through an amazing temple complex

Natural Magic Shiva Linga of Preah Theat Mountain (Thmor Thom)

From Phnom Penh, drive down National Road No. 5 and turn left at Damnak Trach market. Then drive about 38 km. along the local red soil road to reach Preah Theat Mountain. Along the way, this red soil road is linked to several villages of Samki Mean Chey district of Kampong Chhnang province directly through the high plateau area near the foot of the Oral Mountain.

There, a few small mountains start rising up above the level of the villages and the emerald jungle comes into clear view. And from afar, enormous stones that stand on the peak of Preah Theat mountain top can be seen. The largest and highest stone pieces were called by the local people ‘Preah Sereyrikatheat’ of Preah Theat mountain, which the ancient stone inscription has as ‘Shiva Linga Sriparvata’.

The Shiva Linga Sriparvata is the most important god in the pantheon of gods in the Brahman religion, entrusted to forever protect the earth of the ancient Khmer Empire.
(roup1) At this mountain area, many legends and myths related to traditional cosmological beliefs of gods, mythology, and ancient history are recounted by the more elderly of the local people near the Preah Theat mountain. Many arguments about materials and locations linger at the mountain area.
This area has made a deep, spiritual impact on people who practice and participate in special, sacred worship rituals when they arrive there.
Most of the local people go there to pray for luck, happiness and prosperity or even for abundant crops. Some couples go to Preah Theat mountain for the special purpose of praying for fertility, following unsuccessful attempts of conceiving children after being married for a long period of time. These traditions and beliefs were derived from their ancient ancestors a long time ago and today's generations often find it extremely difficult to find the original source of their ancestors' traditional beliefs.
Chhin is a 55 year old grandfather and the Achar of Preah Theat pagoda, which is located at the foot of Preah Theat mountain. He said, "Actually we don’t know why our ancestors have kept their tradition of praying to this mountain and stones. But when people come to pray here, they must have had some success in order to make them come back again and again."
"I remember some legends about Lord Buddha. They were related to me by my monk teacher and the elderly Achar, when I was boy," Chhin said.

(roup 2) He recalled that there are the bone relics of the Savaka of Lord Buddha kept for sacred storage on the peak of the mountain. That's why our ancestors called this mountain ‘Preah Sereyrikatheat’ or ‘Preah Theat’ till this day. Savaka means the 500 monks who supported and followed the Lord Buddha when he was still alive.
Until 1979, there were many small gold images of the Buddha kept in the temple’s cave under the tallest stone there, but they were lost during the time that the Vietnamese soldiers came to occupy this mountain immediately after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Mr. Chhin said, "I just follow the traditions of our ancestors and respect this sacred place."
"Every year before I sow my crops, I pray to the god of magic here at Preah Sereyrikatheat. Then at harvest time we always get bountiful yields," Chhin said.
"All the local people come to pray here before we go out of our home villages to engage in business or to travel any distance. Then every thing happens as we wish."
"Nowadays some people from far away, such as Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, have begun to come here to pray for whatever they need. Then those people returned to pray again and to leave a token of respect for the success of their prayers," Chhin said. "Because of the powerful magic of this sacred place, our ancestors handed down this tradition to us."
Mr. Vong Sotheara, a lecturer in the History Department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, has made several trips to Preah Theat mountain to research some astonishing artifacts and events from the historical script that relate to this mountain.
(roup 3) He said the inscription K.441 of Yeay Poan temple at Sambor Prei Kuh is from the 7th century which is pre-Angkorian history. This inscription states that the king built and offered respect to a big natural Shiva Linga on the top of the mountain named ‘Lingadri’. This natural linga has a 92 meter perimeter and rises 25 meters high.
"Mr. George Cœdés, a French expert and scholar of history and culture of Southeast Asia, studied this inscription. He suggests that the Lingadri today is located at Phou Kao Mountain nearby Wat Phou temple in Champa Sak province of Lao P.D.R." Sotheara added. "But according to my research, the ‘Lingadri’ which can also be called ‘Linga Sriparvata,’ is located on Preah Theat mountain of Kampong Chhnang province."
"The evidence to substantiate this is simply that the size of the natural Shiva Linga at Phou Kao mountain has only a 35 meter perimeter and is only18 meters high. It is smaller than the inscription that K.441 describes. The K.441 inscription more accurately describes the one at Phnom Preah Theat," Sotheara said.
"Other inscriptions written during the Angkor period from Damrei temple, Andong temple and Baksei Cham Krong temple all describe the Shiva Linga as having a height of 36 meters, which is similar to this natural Shiva Linga on Preah Theat mountain," he said. And the script from the Koh Ker area mentioned that King Jayavarmen IV paid his respects to the Shiva Linga of Preah Theat mountain.
"One of the most important proofs of this is in 1016, when the great King Suryavarman I celebrated his Tapoverya in the Preah Vihear temple on the peak of Dangrek mountain. The king tried to invite the two magic Shivas there to rebirth a Shiva named ‘Sri Sekharisvara’ to protect this great temple," Sotheara said. The Tapoverya ceremony is a very special meditation ceremony in the Brahman religion that may involve magic from Shiva and natural power of the king to bring success as the King of the Empire. In the past, most great Khmer kings during the Angkor period celebrated this Tapoverya ceremony during their reigns.
Then the King Suryavarman I celebrated a successful Tapoverya ceremony. This ceremony was an invitation to the Shiva Sri Sekharisvara power to protect the temple area. That is why people at that time called it ‘Sri Sekharisvara’ temple while people today call it ‘Preah Vihear’ temple. So the Preah Theat natural linga should be the ancestor of the Shiva god named Sri Sekharisvara of the Preah Vihear temple.
"I believe that this Shiva ‘Linga Sriparvata’ is the biggest Shiva Lingaparvata in the world," Sotheara said. The ground floor structure was build with sandstone and brick, emulating the Sambo Prey Kuh style. I am sure that this natural linga was a celebration of the magic power of Shiva Linga at least as far back as the 7th century during the Chenla era."
Mr. Ang Kim Eang, President of Great Angkor Tours and Travel, was surprised when he arrived at Preah Theat mountain when he found, on the grounds surrounding the linga, a protective area that resembled a temple
"The top stone is celebrated as the natural Shiva linga with the remaining protective structure similar to a temple. On the lower level is the other large stone which is shorter than the linga. This should be the yoni of Shiva's wife because the construction style is the same," Kim Eang said.
"With this enduring history and the uniqueness of the biggest and tallest natural Shiva linga and yoni as well as the beautiful vistas, this Preah Theat mountain will be a new destination that should be suggested in our tour itineraries from Phnom Penh," Kim Eang said. "I hope that many foreigners will decide to come here. It should also be a good link to the ancient capital of Long Vek as well as some traditional handicraft villages of Kampong Chhnang province."
For those who reach the top of the Preah Theat mountain, there is a rest area with stone seats affording the best view around this area. When you look south down the stairway, there is a magnificent verdant landscape from the south and sweeping across to the east.
From the north and the west there is the emerald, tropical jungle linking the many smaller mountains to the higher Oral Mountain which touches the white fluffy clouds. Oral Mountain is one of the highest mountains in Cambodia
The Preah Theat mountain is the most holy place. Visitors are prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages or uttering profanities. Also, girlfriends and boyfriends will receive bad luck if they kiss there.
To be safe and successful in all things, Phnom Preah Theat may be the best place to pray. Then when you return home, why not take some water from the Yoni or Linga basin storage as your holy water.

Day trip to Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm temple, or the Tonle Bati temple, is one of most population destinations for weekend day trips for Cambodians and visitors who are staying in Phnom Penh. This temple complex is one of the biggest temple ruins built during the Angkor period and is located closest to the modern capital of Phnom Penh.

Down National Route 2, only 35 kilometers from Phnom Penh, this resort area hosts the beautiful temple ruins and also a natural lake nearby. And one can enjoy a typical Khmer picnic made up by the local residents. The turnoff from Phnom Penh is marked by a large picture of a temple ruin on the right hand side of the road. There is a three kilometer entryway to reach Tonle Bati resort.
(roup1) Ta Prohm temple was built by the great King Jayavarman VII during the Angkor era in the late 12th and beginning of the 13th century and devoted to both Brahmanism and the Buddhist religion. The temple artistry follows the Bayon style. The temple area is smaller than the other temple at Angkor complex. But it boasts impressive laterite and sandstone structures decorated with beautiful carvings that are relevant to Khmer history.

Mr. Thorng Em, Director of the Takeo Provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts, said "one of the unique bas reliefs of the Ta Prohm temple is the beautiful reclining Buddha on the top of the lintel of the door (gobora) of the main tower of the temple facing to the east. Inside this main tower there are two big Buddha statues in good condition."
He continued that the other Buddhist Ta Prohm temple was mentioned by an important stone script that was found at the eastern site on a lintel of the first door (gobora). This big piece of stone was interpreted by many Khmer scholars to say that the Ta Prohm temple was built from some pieces of the original stones from the other ancient temples in that area.
(roup 2) Mr. Sambo Manara, Professor of History at the Royal University of Phnom Penh explained that the Sanskrit script described the temple as dedicated to Buddhism. Then he continued that, a King Rudhravarman was crowned in Nonkor Phnom (Funan) Kingdom. This king was the son of King Jayavarman. Rudhravarman’s ancestors were the former king of Funan Kingdom, named Hun Tean and queen Souma."
From various scripts, we know that "During the era of the Funan Kingdom, Cambodia had diplomatic relations with China. The Funan King sent two Khmer Buddhist monks to China to help them translate the Buddhist Bible from Pali and Sanskrit to Chinese," Manara said.
"The monks names were Sankh-Pal Therak and Muntrea Sena. These two monks were the first Khmer religious ambassadors to China. There are several papers concerning this history and they vary very little and only about dates," Mr. Manara said.
H.E. Chhorn Eam, Minister of Religion and Cult, agreed that according to the ancient script, "Buddhism arrived in Cambodia during the pre-Funan Kindom through networks linked with Sri Lanka. And then, the Funan Kingdom introduced the Buddhist religion to China. But actually our Khmer civilization is one of the first to receive the Buddhist religion back in the early times of Buddha (3-4th century BC)".
(roup3) Mr. Chhorng Em, said "the Ta Prohm temple, was also dedicated to the Brahman religion as well as to Buddhism. There are many bas reliefs and lintels depicting such Brahma gods as Siva and Vishnu. For example, on the Southern and Northern doors, there are lintels with depictions of Vishnu and Siva."

"The one Avalokesvara at the south has four arms brandishing bible such as the magic wheel tool, Sank (shell), Dam-bang magic stick weapon, and a magic stone ball. At the Northern lintel, there is another Avalokesvara with 6 arms, all with tools," Mr. Em said.
"Vishnu is the most important of the three gods of Brahmanism. His function is to protect the earth and all its life. Another well known ancient myth of Brahmanism found here is the ‘Churning of the Sea of Milk’ as well as the Eyravanda elephant (a three headed elephant). Every visitor can see these at the garden on the eastern side of the 2nd Gobora (door). These are all in good condition," Mr. Em said.
The Ta Prohm temple structure is 42 meters long by 36 meters wide and over 12 meters high. Located in Tonle Bati village, Kraing Thhnong commune, Bati District, Takeo province. The entry fee is free for Cambodians, and 3$US for foreigners.

Kate Winslet scores double triumph at Golden Globes

British actress Kate Winslet poses with the trophies of the best actress and best supporting actress awards at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 11, 2009

Jan. 13 -- Five-time Oscar nomenee Kate Winslet walked away from the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards with two trophies in hand -- best actress for her role in Revolutionary Road and best supporting actress for her performance in The Reader.

On the red carpet, Kate was accompanied by co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.

The ceremony, considered the second largest event after the annual Academy Awards in Kodak Theater, will help dispel clouds of gloom among Americans' minds due to the current economic recession in the United States, organizers said.

Hollywood stars and celebrities came back to the ceremony at Beverly Hilton Hotel this year after a strike by the Writers Guild of America reduced last year's event to a boring news conference, where winners were announced at the same ball room.

Sunday night's event also gave Hollywood its first chance to bid a fond farewell to the late Heath Ledger, who was named the winner of a posthumous best supporting-actor award for his role as The Joker in "The Dark Knight," the 2008 box office champion.

Meanwhile, as expected, British director Danny Boyle's "Slum dog Millionaire," became the biggest winner at the Globes by winning all four awards of its categories, including best drama and director for Danny Boyle, also best screenplay and musical score.

The film, which tells a story of a young man from Mumbai who finds success on a television game show in India, won five prizes on Jan. 8's Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics Choice Awards, including best picture, director, writer, composer and young actor for star Dev Patel.

The Golden Globe Awards are often promoted as an early indicator of the Oscar. However, none of the Golden Globe best picture winners have gone on to win the Academy Award for best picture for the past four years.

The awards are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has about 85 members based in Hollywood to report news about the entertainment industry for publications around the world.


January 10, 2009

Sarah Jessica Parker to split?

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker arrives to attend a tribute to Diane Keaton by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York April 9, 2007.

Jan. 9 -- Sarah Jessica Parker is reportedly set to split from her husband and is already house-hunting alone.

The 43-year-old actress - who has been dogged by rumors her 11-year marriage to Matthew Broderick is in trouble after claims he cheated on her with a 25-year-old woman - recently asked a New York broker to find her an apartment.

A source told America's Star magazine: "The time has come when she realizes it just isn't worth it. Sarah Jessica is determined to get her own place and bring down the curtain on her marriage."

The 'Sex and the City' actress and Matthew, 46 - who have a six-year-old son James Wilkie together - are already said to be living "separate lives".

Another source added: "Sarah's not stupid. She knows exactly what's going on. For a while it was easier for her to stay than go through a harsh divorce. They're essentially living separate lives."

Sarah and Matthew spent the festive period with each other for the sake of James, but it is believed the pressure of keeping up a happy pretence only caused further cracks in their relationship.

The source added: "They spent the holidays with him, pretending to be happy. Sarah is a great actress when she has to be!"


Kate Moss throws goblet at photographer

British model Kate Moss poses with her fashion collection in the Topshop window of at their flagship store at Oxford Circus in central London April 30, 2007.

Jan. 9 -- Supermodel Kate Moss resorted to violence when a persistent photographer wouldn't leave her alone during a recent shopping trip in Hong Kong, reported the Sun.

Kate Moss and rocker beau Jamie Hince, were spotted in a luxury store in Hong Kong's Central. The two were in Hong Kong on a stopover after a vacation in Thailand. The catwalk queen drank several cups of champagne provided by the store while picking out outfits for her boyfriend. When she noticed the photographer, Moss asked security guards to take him away.

Later the paparazzi followed the two into an open-air bar, Hince yelling at him to leave them alone.

As they left the bar, Kate Moss, holding her champagne goblet, walked up to the persistent photographer and threw her glass, aiming for his head.

Once in their car, Moss allegedly smoked a cigarette, rolled down the window and cursed the photographer again, while Hince gave his middle finger up.

The report concluded that "Kate Moss apparently gained weight and had a baby belly."


January 8, 2009

Brad Pitt: I was faithful to Jennifer Aniston

Cast member Brad Pitt and actress Angelina Jolie pose at the premiere of movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" at the Mann's Village theatre in Westwood, California December 8, 2008. The movie opens in the U.S. on December 25

Jan. 8 -- Brad Pitt says that his relationship with current companion Angelina Jolie only began after his splitting from former wife Jennifer Aniston.

In October, Jolie revealed that she and Pitt fell in love while making the 2005 film "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." In November, Aniston called Jolie's comments "really uncool," because she was married to Pitt while the movie was in production.

Pitt set the record straight in a story posted on W magazine's Website Wednesday, defending both women and insisting that his relationship with Jolie didn't begin until after he and ex-wife Aniston split in 2005.

"Jen is a sweetheart," Pitt told the magazine for its Jan. 20 issue. "I think she got dragged into that one, and then there's a second round to all that Angie versus Jen. It's so created.

"What people don't understand is that we filmed ("Mr. & Mrs. Smith") for a year. We were still filming after Jen and I split up," he continues. "Even then it doesn't mean that there was some kind of dastardly affair. There wasn't. I'm very proud of the way that it was handled. It was respectful."

Pitt said he and Aniston "still check in with each other."

"She was a big part of my life, and me hers," he said. "I don't see how there cannot be (that). That's life, man."

The 45-year-old Pitt, who has six children with Jolie, was nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for his starring role in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." Jolie was nominated for those same awards for her starring turn in "Changeling." Aniston can currently be seen in the family film "Marley & Me."


January 3, 2009

UK couple has "black-and-white twins" twice

Britain's Dean Durrant pose with his wife Alison Spooner and their four daguthters. The mixed-race couple produced another set of twins in which one sibling appears to be black and the other white.

Britain's Dean Durrant pose with his wife Alison Spooner and their two daughters, Lauren and Hayleigh, who were born in 2001 with strikingly different skin tones and eye colors.

by Cuteman

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