Khao Phra Viharn
Khao Phra Viharn or Phreah Vihear is one of the most breathtaking sites we have ever been too. For us, this was the most impressive Khmer site after having seen Angkor Wat. The border here between Thailand and Cambodia has not been fully demarcated yet, partly because of all the landmines in the area. The international Court of Justice has awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962 but the surrounding land remains in dispute.
We had tried to get to the site in 2002 and found the border closed, so we returned in 2006. Crossing the border by foot and getting into Cambodia actually opens one of the most magnificent locations for a temple. It stretches for about 800 metres upwards to a high cliff which ends in a spectacular view over the Cambodian plains and rainforest. Several gopura's, halls, causeways and beautiful lintels can be seen, some still standing, others having collapsed or pieces having been stolen already.
Finally in July 2008 the World Heritage Committee agreed to list the temple as a Cambodian World Heritage Site, which has a good and a bad side to it. The good one is that this site will be more protected than before. When we visited. there were rows of booths selling everything from old Buddha images to T-Shirts and questionable individuals who offered anything from fake gems to real gold bars. The bad side though is that the old squabbles over whom the site belongs to has started a new wave of unrest with the result that the temple was not accessible again. The latest we had read/heard was fighting between the two countries had broken out and some of our readers reported to us that they tried to get to the temple but it was not accessible.