Ts personals Phum Sre Treng

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s size Every effort has been made to ensure that this book is as up-to-date as possible at the time of going to press. Some details, however, such as telephone s, opening hours, prices, gallery hanging arrangements and travel information are liable to change. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for any consequences arising from the use of this book, nor for any material on third party websites, and cannot guarantee that any website address in this book will be a suitable source of travel information.

We value the views and suggestions of our readers very highly. It provides detailed practical information and expert recommendations. Introducing Cambodia and Laos maps the two countries and sets them in their historical and cultural context. Both countries share borders with Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east, while Laos also borders China and Myanmar.

Cambodia covers an area of 69, sq milessq kmand has a population of about 15 million. Laos, although larger, with an area of about 90, sq milessq kmsupports a smaller population of just under six million. This makes them highly dependent for transport, irrigation, and food on a network of rivers, notably the Mekong. It enters Laos at its northwestern corner and exits Cambodia in the south, en route to the South China Sea. Each country has been divided into four main sightseeing areas. These eight sections form the separate chapters.

They cover all the important sights with maps, photographs, and illustrations. The Survival Guide has advice on everything from travel and medical services to telephones and post offices. The best places to visit have been ed on a Regional Map at the beginning of each chapter. The key to the map symbols is on the back flap. The transport and food sources afforded by the mighty Mekong encouraged many civilizations, notably the Champa, Chenla, and Khmer empires, to flourish along its banks from the 5th century AD onward.

The French settled the three major towns of Thakhek, Pakse, and Savannakhet during the early 20th century, leaving behind a distinct cultural imprint. At the same time, the Vietnamese entered the country from the east across the narrow band of land between the South China Sea and the Mekong.

They put down roots here, intermingling with the local population and contributing to the cultural melting pot that is Southern Laos. Buses, and the more comfortable minivans, ply major routes, including directly to both Vietnam and Cambodia. The ruins of Wat Phu Champasak can be reached by bus and then a short ferry across the Mekong.

The Si Phan Don archipelago can be accessed by Route 13 and then by boat or ferry. The Mekong River has provided an efficient means of transport and trade with neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Despite this, much of the region, except the three main towns along its banks, was off most tourist itineraries due to poor infrastructure. With the construction of the Friendship Bridge in Decemberhowever, there has been an increase in visitors and today the region is slowly opening its treasures to the world.

All the sights are ed and there are also useful tips on getting around. A complete list of color codes is shown on the inside front cover. Wat Choum Khong Two Chinese gods guard the entrance to this temple, which was completed in The temple is surrounded by a verdant garden, ideal for relaxing. The sim is encircled by sculptures of the Buddha in various poses 8 S IS.

National Museum A unique blend of French and Lao architectural styles, this building houses the sacred Phabang statue. Northern Laos, mainly home to the cultural practices, which include Lao Sung, or Highland Lao, has the stories passed from one generation highest percentage of ethnic to the next, systems of kinship minorities in the country. These dictating norms of marriage, and a communities include the Hmong, confounding system of taboos. Akha, and Mien. Each of these groups are from the Lowland Lao. The for sale is easily distinguished by their best place to meet members of unique, brightly colored attire, elaborate these minorities is usually the local jewelry, and distinct language.

Ts personals Phum Sre Treng

Proud market, where they come to sell their upholders of their cultures, the Lao produce, particularly medicinal and Sung have complex religious beliefs and edible plants collected in the jungle. C H STAR SIGHTS Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham Elaborate gilded bas-reliefs, which depict scenes from the Phra Lak Phra Lam, the Lao version of the Ramayana, adorn the front veranda of this wat 4 0 meters 0 yards 50 50 This provincial capital was the scene of fierce fighting during the civil war and the current town is actually the result of recent construction — the original town, a few miles south, was razed to the ground by bombing.

Happier times reign today, and Luang Nam Tha has emerged as an important center of ecotourism. The town is located within the boundaries of the Nam Ha National Protected Area and attracts adventure seekers for activities such as trekking, boating, and cycling. The town itself, often shrouded in mist until afternoon, is pleasant, with good restaurants, a small night market, as well as the Luang Nam Tha Museum, which houses various local artifacts, including ethnic clothing and ceramics.

The original stupa was destroyed by aerial bombing. Visitors can also stop at an attractive waterfall, a short distance from the village. Mon—Thu am—am, Fri pm—pm. The forest cover here is largely first growth and the area is a watershed for four rivers, notably the Nam Ha, which gives the NPA its name. A large variety of animals, such as clouded leopard, tiger, gaur, a muntjac species, Asian elephant, as well as bird species, are found here. Tour agencies in Luang Nam Tha are active participants in the project and a couple of them offer a variety of tours in the NPA, ranging from one-day trips to several-day excursions, which can be undertaken on foot, by kayak, or bicycle.

Environs ually. Addresses, telephone s, opening hours, and information on admission charges and wheelchair access is also provided. For a taste of semirural village life, visitors can head to the prosperous villages on the opposite bank of the Nam Tha, reached by crossing a bamboo footbridge over the river. Another interesting Located just off Route 1 on the road to Luang Prabang, the village of Ban Nam Di is known for the unique paper made by the Lanten people. They assisted the Americans during the Lao Civil War and their relationship with the Communist authorities is strained.

The huts, with dirt floors, thatched roofs, and no windows, are usually located adjacent to main ro. Akha are easily Akha women are distinguished by the elaborate silver headdress worn by their women. Their religious beliefs are a mix of animism and ancestor worship and they speak a TibetoBurmese language. They can often be spotted walking the streets of Luang Nam Tha and Muang Sing, hawking their handicrafts to passersby. Clothing of the Mien includes a maroon boa-like collar extending downward. Mien are also known as the Yao. They practice Taoism and use a form of Chinese characters to write their religious texts.

Mien women are distinguished by their black turbans. Thai Lue are considered a Lowland Lao people. They are Buddhists, and known for their unique style of temple architecture characterized by elaborate wooden or alloy fretwork. Thai Lue women are said to be very beautiful. Lanten are a sub-group of the Mien. A Chinese term, Lanten refers to their use of indigo dyes. They are best known for their paper-making skills. With its curlicued, golden roofs and tropical gardens, the Silver Pagoda is a short walk from Sisowath Decorative Quay, and is the perfect place to savor the calm, away from the rush of the city.

Murals in the Gallery The inner compound wall of the complex is beautifully ornamented with vivid frescoes of scenes from the Reamker — the Khmer version of the Indian epic, Ramayana. Scale model of Angkor Wat North Entrance Royal Pavilion The Dhammasala, which is also known as the Royal Pavilion, is an open hall used by the royal family as a reception area as well as by Buddhist monks to recite religious texts.

An illustrated artwork shows the layout of the site. Parts worth visiting are highlighted. The museum comprises eight individual galleries, each containing a wealth of ancient Angkorian artifacts. On arrival, visitors first head to the screening of a documentary on the marvels of Angkor entitled Story Behind The Legend. The next stop is Gallery 1, with its stunning exhibition of 1, Buddha images in wood, stone, and precious jewels.

The subsequent galleries focus exclusively on subjects such as the pre-Angkorian period, Khmer kings, and Angkor Wat. A mall with a shopping center is attached to the museum. Nevertheless, the market continues to be a popular stop for both locals and foreign visitors who are drawn to its cool corridors not only because of the reasonable prices, but also for the sheer variety of goods on offer. Stalls stock everything from Khmer silk kramas to lacquerware and silverware, as well as groceries.

Nearby is the carefully restored old French Quarter and the atmospheric Pub Street. Tel A handy map locates the main sights and transport hubs in the town. Here, children are taught stone carving, lacquermaking, silk painting, and wood sculpting. Visitors can walk through the workshops with a guide who explains the stages of each intricate craft; the tour takes about an hour.

The tour takes three hours. This place is worth a visit, especially for those traveling with children. Students are taught for free The displays, which and are encouraged feature models, nets, to set up their own illustrations, and a studios on complerange of fishing tion of the course. National Centre them.

Ts personals Phum Sre Treng

Seeing Hands, which has been The center also has a lovely set up to help the blind. Afterwards, visitors can Krus Village. Cultural Village is an interest 8am—pm daily. There are Cham of Siem Reap. The lake and plex. There are also miniature its marine-rich waters feed replicas of famous contemover 3 million people and porary buildings in Cambodia TH A The list of star sights length, comes alive at night with loud music, apsara dance performances, and crowds of visitors sauntering up and down the street.

This shrine is especially popular with Cambodians and is surrounded by fortune-tellers. Until— this recently, named for its floor, which is inlaid with over 5, solid friends statue of this French town in with ColonialIII silver tiles. Today, however, it is fast becoming a destination in its own right, with quality restaurants serving Buddha excellent French-influenced cuisine, upscale statue at museum boutique hotels, and a new airport.

The locals have been quick to ride the tourist wave with souvenir shops selling silk kramas scarvesand tour agencies and massage vendors cropping up. Murals in the Gallery 66 Re. The front doors and the surrounding area are not only gilded, but also covered with multicolored glass mosaic tiles 9 ER The southern end of the Luang Prabang peninsula has several attractions: the Mekong and Khan rivers, a vibrant morning market, and religious and secular architecture.

Ts personals Phum Sre Treng

It can be reached by a staircase lined with frangipani trees. To the with Thailand, Laos, south, the mile km and Vietnam. Built under French administration, the The temples of Angkor, the chief highlight of this region, are among the most celebrated ancient buildings in the world. The ideal way to visit these magnificent temples is via the riverside town of Siem Reap see pp66— 7. Fast becoming a favorite of glossy lifestyle magazines with the growth of upscale boutique hotels, quality shops, and spa treatments, Siem Reap has much to offer.

However, most visitors head to the Hindu-Buddhist temples of Angkor. Ta Prohm see pp80—81among the most atmospheric of the Angkorian ruins, still remains engulfed by the encroaching jungle and was featured in Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda see pp52—5 are quintessentially Khmer, housing fabulous Buddhist treasures.

Nearby is the riverfront area of Sisowath Quay, the heart of Phnom Penh, and the National Museum of Cambodia see p50which shelters a vast array of artifacts from the Angkorian period. The town of birds in Southeast Asia.

Beyond Kratie begins provides an authentic experi- the vast wilderness of the ence of traditional rural life northeast, with forests, planin Cambodia. The town of Sihanoukville see pp—7 is the gateway to the stunning white beaches of Otres and Occheuteal, among others. The nearby islands of Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Ta Kiev see pp—9 are delightfully quiet, if basic, and offer great diving and jungle treks respectively. Covering an area of 58 sq miles sq kmthe relatively unexplored Ream National Park see p is home to endangered birds of prey and butterflies, and is a great place for organized jungle treks.

Ts personals Phum Sre Treng

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