Support Cambodia for World Heritage Listing of Preah Vihear temple @ 2008 Canada


World Heritage Listing of PREAH VIHEAR On June-July 2008 in Quebec – Canada.

Please E-mail your support to: g.boccardi@unesco.org

Photo courtesy: The Royal Embassy of Cambodian to the United Kingdom

PREAH VIHEAR TEMPLE: The Mountain Temples of Gods
Name: Prasat Preah Vihear (ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ)
Creator: Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II
Date built: 11th & 12th Centuries CE
Primary deity: Shiva
Architecture: Banteay Srei (fortress of women) style and others
Location: Preah Vihear Province, Kingdom of Cambodia
Ownership documents: International Court of Justice in the Hague @ 1962  (Click here for the original documents in pdf

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee recognized that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear is of great international significance and has Outstanding Universal Value and agreed in principle that the Temple should be inscribed in the World Heritage List.


In the 6th century , King Yasovarmamn I (889-900) began work on the original dedicated to Shisa as result of spiritual development, increased political prestige and economic growth was naturally reflected in the Temple undergoing more than 300 years of consultation with deal of remodeling under subsequent King Suryavarman II (1113–1150) this increased prestige naturally changed the original small sanctuary into one of the greatest Khmer temples of all times. This ranking was the result of the finest in situ carving that depicted the highest standards of unique Khmer architecture.


Courtesy: The Royal Embassy of Cambodian to the United Kingdom


Via: http://mengho.wordpress.com/


Khmer New Year – Choul Chnam Khmer

In ancient countries of Chompou Tvip (the central continent of the seven continents surrounding Mount Meru) the elder people adopted the Khmer New Year’s date in Khè Mikasè (January), i.e. the early year. According to the lunar calendar, they formerly chose three seasons including Heman Radov or winter, Kimha Radov ir hot season and Vasan Radov or rainy season.

Since Chol Sakarach (Lesser Era) they have formally adopted the solar calendar and held the Khmer New Year Festival in Khè Chèt (fifth month) that is a free time from their farming. Four main seasons in the solar calendar contain winter, spring, summer and autumn.

The Khmer people have adopted the fifth solar month, known as Khè Chèt, to celebrate their New Year festival. Usually, according to the solar calendar, the Khmer New Year falls on the 13th of April although sometimes it falls on the 14th of April.

The auspicious occasion of the Khmer New Year is detailed in the astrological almanac and extends over three days. The first day is known as Maha Sangkran or “Great Almanac Day”, the second day is called Veara Vanabath or “Worshipping Day”, and the third day is known as Veara Leung Sak or “Rank and Promotion Day”. Of the three days Veara Leung Sak is considered the most auspicious.

The history of the Khmer New Year is closely connected to the seven signs of the zodiac for the week. The legend of the New Year is detailed in the Almanac which says: In ancient, happier times, a young man by the name of Thoamabal, the son of a tycoon, had an extensive knowledge of three Vedas (ancient books on Hinduism) by the age of seven. Thoamabal’s father built a temple under the spread of a large Chrey tree (a fig tree) on the banks of a river that was home to many species of birds. He had an innate ability that enabled him to understand the languages of birds. He had an innate ability that enabled him to understand the languages of birds.

Thoamabal’s attributes allowed him to become a layman in charge of religious ceremonies for all classes of people. Upon hearing this news another religious leader Kabel Maha Prohm, decided to challenge Thoamabal with tree riddles. He vowed that if Thaomabal could successfully answer the riddles he, Kabel Maha Prohm, would be beheaded; however if Thoamabal could not answer the riddles correctly then it would be Thoamabal who would be beheaded. Thoamabal insisted on having seven days to answer the puzzling enigma until Kabel Maha Prohm agreed.

For six days Thoamabal could not solve the problems and knew that he faced the prospect of being killed by Kabel Maha Prohm the next morning. He therefore decided ton hide himself and let his life fade away by natural causes. He hid himself beneath a pair of sugar palm trees in which a pair of eagles were nesting, that night Thoamabal overheard the eagles talking.

The female asked, “What will we eat tomorrow morning?” The male eagle replied, “We will eat the flesh of Thoamalobal because tomorrow he is going to be beheaded by Kabie Maha Prohm due to his inability to solve the riddles”. The female then asked, “What are the riddles?” The male answered, “The first riddle is, where is luck to be found in the mornine?” Of course the answer is that luck is on the face because people always take water to wash their faces.

The second riddle asked, where is luck located at noon? It is on the chest because people always take water to wash their chests. Finally, the third question asked, where is luck located in the evening? The answer is that luck is on the feet because people always wash their feet in the evening. Thoamabal overheard all of the conversation and so happily returned to his temple. In the morning Kabel Maha Prohm came to ask Thoamabal if he could answer the three riddles.

Thoamabal successfully answered each of the riddles. Kabel Maha Prohm realixing he had failed, called his seven daughters, who were maids of Branma, to learn of his fate.Kabal Maha Prohm said, “Your father is foing to be beheaded in front of Thoamabal. If my head is set on the earth , if will set fire to Earth, if my head is thrown into the air, the rain will evaporate, if my head is thrown into the sea, the sea will dry up. Therefore I ask you, my seven daughters to get a holy metal tray on which to set your father’s head”. Having said this, he beheaded himself and his head was passed to Neang Toungsa, the eldest of his daughters. She placed her father’s head on the holy tray and then proceeded to walk around Mount Meru for one hour, respectfully keeping the tray on her right hand. She then took the tray to the temporary sanctuary of Phnom Kailas. At Phnom Kailas, Preah Visakam created a hall where seven holy glasses (Pheakabatei Saphea) were set. The glasses were for use by angels during ceremonies. Each year the seven angels took turns to invoke the head of Kabel Maha Prohm to and complete a holy procession around Mount Meru. Following the holy procession the angels returned to their heaven.

The Seven Angels of the Almanac: If the annual procession talls on a Sunday then the day will be known as Toungsa. The other days are, Monday is Kooreak, Tuesday is called Reaksa, Wednesday is named Monday, Tuesday will be Kereney, Friday is known as Kemera and Saturday is Mahaotra.

During the Khmer New Year Festival, youths gather to play popular traditional games such as Chaol Chhoung (throwing a ball) and Bas Angkunh (throwing brown seeds). The youths are normally divided into female and male teams to play these games.

In some parts of Cambodia, e.g. Siem Reap and Battambang, they play a game known as the “Trot Dance”. Trot performers dance and ask for alms from house to house in their village. A man will ride on a long curved stick with a deer’s head on one side and with a cluster of grass on the other side like the deer’s tail. Two men pretend to be hunters and are armed with a crossbow. When they receive alms they will donate it for the benefit of the local pagoda.

In villages along the Mekong Riverinthe province of Kandal women gather to rowboats in front of the pagodas. This action is believed to appease the crocodiles. This custom originated long ago when many crocodiles lived in the river. In some villages, people trample on effigies to appease the ghosts that live in the trees near the pagodas and ask for happiness in the coming year.

The Khmer people will gather together and visit pagodas and temples on the occasion of the Khmer New year. Each year many residents from other provinces visit Angkor Wat to worship to the powerful gods and trace their ancestors’ heritage.

Source: http://www.mot.gov.kh/


Cambodian Buddhism


Theravada Buddhism is the religion of virtually all of the ethnic Khmers, who constitute about 90% or more of the Cambodian population. Buddhism originated in what are now north India and Nepal during the sixth century B.C. Theravada Buddhism is a tolerant, non-prescriptive religion that does not require belief in a supreme being. Its precepts require that each individual take each individual take full responsibility for his own actions and omissions.

Buddhism is based on three concepts: dharma (the doctrine of the Buddha, his guide to right actions and belief); karma (the belief that one’s life now and in future lives depends upon one’s own deeds and misdeeds and that as an individual one is responsible for, and rewarded on the basis of, the sum total of one’s acts and act’s incarnations past and present); and sangha, the ascetic community within which man can improve his karma. The Buddhist salvation is nirvana, a final extinction of one’s self. Nirvana may be attained by achieving good karma through earning much merit and avoiding misdeeds.

A Buddhist’s pilgrimage through existence is a constant attempt to distance himself or herself from the world and finally to achieve complete detachment, or nirvana. The fundamentals of Buddhist doctrine are the Four Noble Truths: suffering exits; craving (or desire) is the cause of suffering; release from suffering can be achieved by stopping all desire; and enlightenment –

Bddhahood – can be attained by following the Noble Eightfold Path (right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration), which constitutes a middle way between sensuality and ascetism. Enlightenment consists of knowing these truths. The average layperson cannot hope for nirvana after the end of this life, but can by complying, as best he or she is able to, with the doctrine’s rules of moral conduct-hope to improve his or her karma and thereby better his condition in the next incarnation.

Source: http://www.tourismcambodia.com


National Anthem

Kingdom of Cambodia

Nation Religion King

Lyrics: His Highness Patriarch Chuon Nat (1883-1969).  Adopted: 1941

Historical Background

The song derives its name from an ancient Khmer kingdom.  Its music was adapted from an old folk tune. 

The country originally adopted this anthem in 1941, but it was replaced after the Communist Khmer Rouge took over in 1976.  “Nokoreach” was restored in 1993, when Cambodia became a constitutional monarchy. 


Original Khmer Words



English Translation


Heaven protects our King

And gives him happiness and glory

To reign over our souls and our destinies,

The one being, heir of the Sovereign builders,

Guiding the proud old Kingdom.



Temples are asleep in the forest,

Remembering the splendour of Moha Nokor.

Like a rock the Khmer race is eternal.

Let us trust in the fate of Kampuchea,

The empire which challenges the ages.



Songs rise up from the pagodas

To the glory of holy buddhistic faith.

Let us be faithful to our ancestors’ belief.

Thus heaven will lavish its bounty

Towards the ancient Khmer country, the Moha Nokor.


Traditional Mahori Music of Cambodia

Classical Khmer music is often divided into three categories: pin peat, the ceremonial music of the former royal courts; phleng kar, the songs of the wedding ceremony; and mahori, secular entertainment music, also originating in the royal courts, that is played by a string-based ensemble.

The music here comes from a cassette originally produced by the Sayonara Music company in the 1980s, and has been dropped from their catalog. As of March 2003, their web site has also been dropped. The performance is from the early 1970s, and features an electric bass and a great deal of reverb. No information is given about the performers.

  1. Phoumea Tak Lolok
  2. Khmer Krang Phka
  3. Khaek Mon
  4. Sat Heu
  5. Saray Nimnuon
  6. Sorya
  7. Toch Yum
  8. Khmer Plom Slek
  9. Soy Son

Source: http://www.asianclassicalmp3.org/mahori.htm


Khmer Sayings

In the former Cambodian society, people have gone through many experience f life, and they want to guide and advise the next generations with some insights and directions, which later on known as lessons learned from the informal society. For any particular life experience, situation or circumstance, there was a lesson learned drawn from it. Those lessons learned were formed and transformed into good and beautiful sentences (often with rhyme words) to make people easy to say and remember, and finally become “sayings”. For me, Khmer sayings and Cambodian lessons learned from the former Khmer society are the same. 

During the course of time, while some sayings still useful and powerful for the current Cambodian society, some others become irrelevant or even hindering forces to the positive social changes. In other words, there are sayings that influence Cambodian behaviors positively and sayings that influence people’s behaviors negatively. Some old Khmer  sayings are not relevant at all for the current society (meaningless). Below are some sayings that still have powerful influences on Cambodian attitudes and practices:




Khmer sayings that facilitate learning and change


  Tork Tork Penh Bampong

Do thing step by step; small things (saving) will be accumulated to a big one.

(Direct meaning came from Cambodian countryside while people produce palm sugar)

  Drop by drop fills the(bamboo) container




Ches min chhnah chorng

Willingness get more successes than knowledge. It gives values to person’s attitudes rather than his or her knowledge.


Knowing is not better

than willingness



  Ches mok pi rean,mean mok pi rork

This saying encourages people to learn and to work hard (not lazy), if s/he wishes

 to become knowledgeable and rich.

  Knowledge come from learning, wealth from business




  Ches dob min smoeuning prasab mouy

Being skillful is far better than just having knowledge. This saying gives more values to

people’s talent and their creativity in achieving the goal.

  Know 10 is not equalthan 1 skillfulness



  Damrey choeung bourn kung mean ploat, nek prach ches stoat kung mean phlek Everyone makes mistakes. No one can avoid mistakes. Making mistakes is human natural.
  4-feet elephant will surely trip, professional wise man will surely forget



  Kmas lngung toeb ches,Kmas kror toeb mean

Being sensitive to your weaknesses so that you can overcome them.

If you don’t care about them, nothing will be improved.

  Feeling shame of being ignorant leads to be knowledgeable, feeling shame of poor leads to be rich.



  Khoeng koch, khoeng khat We need to control our temper (anger) so that everything will go smooth without disasters.
  Anger is damage,anger is waste





Khmer sayings that hinder learning and change


  Strey bangvel changkran min chum

Women has limited ability to do thing. The prioritized work for women is around

household (such as cooking, cleaning, children etc.)

  Women cannot manage around stove



  Kloun tirp kom toung dey kley kom choung sra war aub phnom Do not try to do anything beyond your abilities and available resources.
  Do not try to grasp the mountain with your short  body and short arms



  Kom Kit dochchao chak smok This is a saying from a Cambodian folk story. A man sat on the top of a palm tree, and was making a box from the palm leaves. While he was doing, he started to dream with a logical steps, i.e. when I have produced so many boxes, I will get a lot of money, and when I get a lot of money I will do this, then this …, finally I can hire a housemaid to work for me, and if the housemaid does not work and behave appropriately for me, I will kick him. While dreaming to this stage, the man has made a real kicks down the palm tree, and unfortunately he fell down from the palm tree .
  Do not think like the man, who makes palm leave box



  Num min thomcheang neal Parents have power / control over their children.Parents can make decision on behalf of their children.

What the children have to do is to comply the parents’ decision.

  Cake is not biggerthan its basket



  Khoenh damrey chuh, kom chuh tam damrey Do not try to do anything beyond your capacity and ability. Do not be ambitious!
  See elephant defecates, do not defecate as it does



  Kom put sralao,kom pradao srey koch Sralao is a kind of tree.The saying means that you cannot change anything from its nature.

Prostitutes are not be able to be educated to change their attitud

  Do not bend sralao, do not educate prostitute




Khmer sayings about power



Pong moan kom chul ning thmor

Weak (powerless) people not to challenge powerful people.

Egg not to hit stone




Phnom mouy min del mean kla pi

There is only one powerful person, who has the control over one area (location).
  A mountain neverhas two tigers



  Changkes mouy bach kach min bak Represents the power of solidarity or being togethe
  A bunch of sticks cannot be broken



  Tek loeng trey sisra-mauch, tek hauch sra-mauch si trey A powerful person will certainly powerless in some circumstance, and the powerless person will be powerful in another circumstance. Circumstances can change people’s power status.
  when water raises,fish eats ant,

when water decreases,

ant eats fish


Source: http://www.camlefa.org/cam_sayings.html


Cambodian History


When we want to reflect and discuss on Cambodia’s development especially to learn about Cambodia’s development challenges, as the starting point, we should take Cambodian history into serious consideration. Much evidence showes that the history really has significant influences and impact on the current development process in Cambodia. In particular, in many cases, Cambodian behaviors and practice are strongly determined by their past history.

Cambodia locates in South-east Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Gulf of Thailand. Cambodia has a big fresh water lake called “Tonle Sap”, which is home of great sweet water fish population. The capital city Phnom Penh lies in the intersection of 4 rivers. Cambodia has tropical climates, in which two seasons can be observed throughout the year, i.e. rainy and dry seasons.

Cambodia has gone through many regime changes in the 20th century. Below is s timeline representing the evolution of Cambodia.

Important characteristics of Cambodian history
Cambodia was known as a country with a range of natural resources such as sweet water fishes, mines, forest, wild animals etc. However, it remains the one of the poorest country in the world.
Cambodia is also known as a country with significant cultural heritage in South-East Asia. Many people in the world know Cambodia through Angkor Wat, a famous stone temple from the 12th Century. Cambodian students learn that there are around 1080 temples with different ages in Cambodia, spreading in different provinces in this country. The most beautiful temples are located in Siemreap province. Cambodian temples attract many people around the world.


For about nine decates, Cambodia was under French colony. The country was very much influenced by French people and culture. As result, Cambodians call every white long-nosed expatriate as Barang (translated: French). It was observed that French influences in Cambodia were somewhat decreased in the last few decates, and new generations prefer to learn and study English instead of French.


Cambodia was led by the Khmer Rouge regime for three years and eight months (1975-79), to that time people in Phnom Penh were evacuated to leave the Capital to leave in rural areas. Two million people (especially the intelligent) were killed, and thousand of traumas and extremely fearful memories were left behind.


Every Cambodian, who survived from the Khmer Rouge, is affected by post traumatic stress left by it, which often leads to many mental issues such as sleeping problems, memory loss, depression, stress, aggression and violent behaviors etc. Those issues are difficult for Cambodian to unlearn, and as results, they loss of self-confidence, fear, lack of trust, lack of initiatives, and resist to change. Even the regime already gone for nearly 30 years, the trauma reminds very powerful in people’s minds, and also transferred to their next generations.


Click on a picture to enlarge it.

The Vietnamese troops forced the Khmer Rouge from the Country in 1979, and then, a new government supported by Vietnam was set up.  It was observed that Vietnam has significant influence to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge downfall.   


From mid 20th century, there were at least eight different regime changes in Cambodia. A person, who was born in 1970 has experienced six different regimes. It was observed that most regimes changed from good to bad. During the regime changes, the civil war was happened throughout the history, in which many people have learned to shoot and kill, and many Cambodians were killed or died through diseases and mine accidents.


Cambodia’s economic development is different from other countries as it started in the early 1950s as a free market economy, then turned into socialist (central planned) economic form, and finally returned to free market economy. Currently, Cambodia is still one of the poor countries in the world.


The majority of people living in Cambodia are Cambodian, with rich of ethnic minorities such as Islamic (Cham), Chinese, Vietnamese, Pnorng, Kouy, Charay etc. In the last three decades, many Vietnamese immigrated into Cambodia. In the last three decades, Cambodians were/are educated to treat the Vietnamese with “gratefulness and respect” even in the reality they have different mentality that seems not be able to go well along with each other.


Except above 10% of the people, who live in the Capital city, the majority of Cambodians live in rural areas, performing traditional agricultural activities. They use oxen and buffalo to plow their rice field, and the activities are very much depending on natural rain water. Rice is the most important food for Cambodians throughout the country. People used to benefit from natural forest and other natural sources for their living such as fish, frogs, crabs, snails, and vegetables and tropical fruits. There are also some traditional handicraft activities in the villages such as silk production, bamboo bag, fishing instrument, music instruments etc.


There were many political tendencies and orientations in Cambodia. Cambodians experienced a range of political leaders, such as French colony, Kingdom, USA oriented, genocide communist, dictators, socialist, Vietnamese supported, and a young democratic oriented country. The influence from China and Vietnam was/is significant. In the last 14 years, there were more than 30 political parties joined the election process, and three of them were on the top, who were elected by Cambodian people, and have their representatives in the National Assembly. The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has been in power since 1979, and is seen as a dominant party up to now.


It was observed that the main agenda for election campaign undertaken by CPP, the ruling party, is the win of Khmer Rouge on 7 January 1979, after which Cambodian people owed life to the party (the party’s emphasize). Khmer Regime was often considered as a baseline to compare/ measure the Country’s development. For the opposition parties, the hot agenda observed during their campaign was the statement of a “constant flow of illegal Vietnamese immigrants” into Cambodia.


Currently, there are many hot discussions about “Kampuchea Kraum”. It was mentioned that Kampuchea Kraum was former Cambodia land, but since over 50 years, the French leader (as French colonized Cambodia) submitted that land (with approximately 12 millions Cambodians) to be controlled by Vietnam until now. This aspect represents another part of the Cambodian history.


Source: http://www.camlefa.org/cambodian.html

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