Repaired Roads in Anlong Veng Lead to Temple

Tourists are visiting the temple complex at Preah Vihear again, nearly five months after a bor­der closing cut off the easiest route to the mountaintop temples.

But they’re still not going through Thailand.

Between 10 and 60 tourists per day are traveling to Preah Vihear on repaired roads from the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng, said Preah Vihear Governor Preap Tan.

“This is good news for Cambo­dia, even if the road isn’t completely finished yet,” he said. The re­cent Khmer New Year holiday prompted more tourists to at­tempt the trip, he said.

Anlong Veng is about 75 km west of Preah Vihear in the Dan­grek mountain chain that separates Cambodia and Thailand. Both locations were occupied by Khmer Rouge forces as recently as 1998 and remain heavily mined.

The route from An­long Veng runs east through Trapaing Prasat district in Oddar Mean­chey province to Sa’em village in Preah Vihear province before turning north toward the temples.

Preah Vihear Deputy Governor Bun Sovann said the 20-km stretch of road from Sa’Em village north to the temple complex is still riddled with mines and cannot be used, but tourists have been riding motorbikes along forest paths to avoid the mined area.

He said engineers are demining the road as quickly as they can, but work is proceeding slowly as the rainy season has started already in the northern province.

Preah Vihear police Chief Chea San said the area was the scene of many battles during the war “and we believe many mines remain here.”

The Preah Vihear temples are built at the edge of a steep cliff that faces south into Cambodia. To the north, down a gradual slope, lies Thailand. Until recently, the two countries cooperated to allow tourists easy access to Preah Vihear from the Thai side.

Thai soldiers abruptly closed the border last December, however, claiming that Cambodian villagers operating a market at the temple’s entrance were polluting water that runs into Thailand.

Cambodian officials, angry at the closing, have vowed to de-mine the area and build roads to Preah Vihear from the Cambo­dian side.

 

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