Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Prime spot for a bit of people-watching
PHNOM PENH : When once there was a trickle, now nearly 100 tourists a day visit the border temple of Preah Vihear, first viewing the magnificent millenium-old ruins, and then heading over to gawk at Thai protesters on the other side of the border. Armed with cameras and video devices, Cambodian tourists get their photos taken, smiling, next to the shuttered border gate, with angry Thai demonstrators heckling and chanting as a distant backdrop.
''For the past two weeks, more and more people have come to visit, firstly to see the temple, and then to watch the Thais,'' the secretary-general of the government's Preah Vihear authority said.
The ancient Hindu temple, perched on a 525-metre-high cliff on the Dongrek mountain range that defines the Thai-Cambodian border, has been the source of a sovereignty dispute for decades, and some Thais fiercely objected to its heritage listing. But border police, military and tourists at the site agreed _ it passes the time watching protests, and it's quite good for business.
Of almost all the Cambodians who brave the bumpy road to the temple, there is no malice, just a simple curiosity value. ''I love the temple, and I also want to see Thais,'' one woman said.
Labels: Preah Vihear Temple