Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No tensions at Ta Muen Thom

Off-duty Khmer and Thai troops, two local women and myself enjoy a moment of bonding at Prasat Ta Muen Thom
I mentioned a few days ago that during my visit to Prasat Ta Muen Thom, on the border between Cambodia and Thailand, the Thai and Cambodian troops stationed in the vicinity were mingling freely, sharing stories, jokes and cigarettes. Though the temple site itself is clearly in the control of the Thai soldiers, who were patrolling the area with their weapons on display, the wooden gate that leads across the current border and into Cambodia, was open and two Khmer soldiers wandered over to join a couple who were already sitting with their Thai counterparts. It was all very amicable and Tim and I joined the group for a chat with our smattering of Khmer and Thai and their limited English. A couple of women also joined in to add a bit more spice and laughter and half an hour later we were on our way, after the obligatory photo opportunity of course. The paved road that leads right up to the temple from the Thai side was under the watchful eye of a Thai army post. I didn't venture past the gate that leads onto the Cambodian side but read recently that they've also put a road up to the site. There was no entry fee from the Thai side, and the temple sits about 60kms southeast of Phnom Rung, as the crow flies.
These two Khmer soldiers and their dog had just wandered through the gate that marks the border
Here's the gate amongst the trees and the edge of the temple's laterite steps
A look at the end of the paved road before the path winds to the temple from the Thai side
A sober reminder not to stray off the paths or take a leak in the forest next to the temple site

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