Welcome to Khmerland

From Bangor...

"Cambodia? Why the hell do you want to go there? "

How many times did we here that question? And how many times did we see shocked expressions on the faces of our family and friends. I actually found some twisted pleasure in telling people; just because of their reaction! (Where next, Bosnia, Rwanda? Hey, actually that's not a bad idea!)

Whilst researching for our last visit to Thailand in 2000 I stumbled across traveller's tales of this jewel in the jungles of South East Asia. I hadn't heard of it before. They spoke of an ancient civilisation that built the largest religious temple in the world, a structure that took the breath away. They recounted countless other temples that littered the 100 square kilometre World Heritage site, each with a name, each with a story. Ta Phrom, Banteay Srei, Bayon, Pre Rup, Prah Khan.

They were the legacy of the mighty Khmer Empire who over a five hundred year period dominated South East Asia, culminating during the 12th century in the construction of cities on a monumental scale, with Angkor Wat being the largest and most impressive structure of them all. Abandoned some five hundred years ago the region was later re-discovered (as the colonialists like to stake claim), "ruined and lost to the jungle" by the French Botanist, Henri Mouhot in 1860.

Whilst it boasts the region's premier attraction, visiting Cambodia wasn't on the agenda for many years. The nightmare of the Khmer Rouge Genocide haunted the country on so many levels, leaving it hollow. Despite the UN intervention the nineties it was still an unpredictable time to visit. With the tourism industry in its infancy, as was peace and stability, it would not have been fair to have taken Julie and especially a 12 year old Hannah into such an uncertain environment.

But ever since learning of Angkor's existence my every travel dream has been consumed by the desire to follow in the footsteps of the explorers of old and new to discover for myself the magic of Angkor.

Thursday 18th Nov 04 >>

ęCopyright Colin Owen 2005 Contact me at c.a.owen@bangor.ac.uk