Monday, October 26, 2009


The introductory sign for the small and remote site at the 11th century Prasat Ban Prasat
One of the most obvious areas where the Thai authorities have the edge over their Cambodian counterparts is the signage in and around the temple sites. Not only does every single site, however minor, have a main introductory sign giving its basic history, but at the larger sites like Phimai and Prasat Phnom Rung, there are individual signs below each significant lintel, pediment and structure. Though the indoor museum at Phimai was closed for my visit, the smaller but perfectly formed museum at Phnom Rung was open and displayed as much information as anyone would want about the site and its historical significance. The Thai Department of Fine Arts in charge of ancient sites has obviously had longer to organize itself but there's a few things that Apsara and the Cambodian Ministry of Culture can learn from their neighbours in the provision of information. It starts with the neatly presented ticket stubs, the colourful free 12-page pamphlets available in different languages and goes through to the signs at the temples that I mentioned above. In addition, each of the sites I visited was well-maintained and tidy, even the smaller sites way off the beaten track, and again, the road signage to each of these smaller sites was well developed and plentiful. I'm sure this is on the to-do list of the Khmer authorities and the sooner it materializes the better.
The ticket stubs for Phimai, Phnom Rung & Muang Tam and Prasat Ban Phluang & Prasat Sikhoraphum
The 12-page pamphlets for Phimai, Phnom Rung and Prasat Muang Tam
A sign showing the archaeological sites in the vicinity at the Phnom Rung museum

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Blogger oasisresort said...

very impressive,mate despite the fashionable tourist saying about the Thai smile going im in total admiration of the Thais,unfortunately to many westerners like the trendy poor deprived country till it starts to do well,i like to see them do well and would love to see Cambodia with real pride not the arrogant pride they have now,but the knowledge pride as most of them are to lazy to learn about there own temples and to caught up in greed and corruption to do magnificent signage and tickets like that in Thailand,they need to learn from there neighbors instead of being jealous,on a more positive note they had the kids in koh kong from the schools cleaning up rubbish and in Khmer tv they are running adverts liked to the tourism kingdom of wonder teaching people not to throw litter on floor,have better hygiene and manners ordering in restaurants instead of rude ignorance,i hope they can learn and look forward to seeing the change for thew better here,im sure you feel the same,we love the madness of the country but want to see it do better,hope its not to hard getting back to work,enjoyed your stay with the two of you,jas.

October 26, 2009 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

hi jas, i should've spent a few hours with you to review your punctuation... :-)
yes i was impressed with how well the Thais have set up the PR of the Khmer temples in Isaan and I was pleased that they have included references in the leaflets, etc about the Khmer Empire rather than as some have suggested, they simply claim the temples as Thai...which was not true in my experience.
I'm not sure I want every Khmer temple to look as picture-postcard as the Thais have them, but its certainly an interesting comparison with how the Cambodians have so far presented their temples. I think there's room for both approaches.
The Thais have 'beautified' even the smallest of the temples but of course they have considerably less than can be found in Cambodia, where 'beautifying' over 2,000 temple sites would take forever.
Good to hear about the campaigns you mention...that's indeed a leap forward.
Hope to meet up sooner than later.

October 26, 2009 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger oasisresort said...

yes mate,fat fingers,Irish brain and education in Southampton don't lead to pretty reading!will catch up at some point,maybe i will get t the penh before Christmas.The age old debate about what is khmer and what is thai,from boxing to asparas,im not taking sides as who does make borders,without them we have one lot of people,n different to our little corner of the world,in fact we are worse back in the isles!

October 26, 2009 at 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in complete diagreement with you and I just hope they don't adopt that practice in Cambodia - the sign at the entrance of the Thai temple looks horrible, its just visual pollution and a spurious aggregate to the natural setting. But I understand you are furthering the tourism industry PR agenda. Regards, John Tolland

October 27, 2009 at 1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know, Andy. Thai learn from the world as I often see pamphets in parks and tourists site all over america have the same thing you mentioned here. I think Cambodia can learn not only from the Thai way of catering to tourist, but from America, England, Japan, etc. I think sometime somebody wants to keep Cambodia less developed or lack of, i praise that will change for the better in Cambodia, soon. Remember too that Cambodia was at war while Thailand enjoyed most of the development, tourism, etc. So, now that Cambodia is slowly but surely at peace and at early stage of development in all fields, I'm sure one day sooner, Cambodia will have signages, and more like Thailand and the rest of the western world, perhaps. I have no doubt though that Thailand did learn from the West a lot, especially from the USA, really. Cambodia can do the same, soon. And thanks for pointing that out, here. See, when you travel, you will learn from everybody all over the world, really. Enjoy.

October 27, 2009 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Dear John T,
healthy debate is always welcome and complete disagreements are too :-)
I didn't say I liked the sign or its location but the fact that the Thai authorities have taken the time and effort to identify and promote the site is a positive step. I would do the signage differently myself, but its each to their own.
I am NOT furthering the tourism industry PR agenda at all; that's bollocks to put it mildly. I am simply observing that the signage at and around the Khmer temples in Thailand is both useful and welcome. Of course it needs to be in harmony with the temple and as unobtrusive as possible, and that's the trick isn't it, which the temple authorities must crack.

October 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the first post! HAHAHAh!! You make me laugh! Jealous of the Thais! What is there to be jealous of! Don't tel me modern skyscrapers which can build less then two years! Sorry Andy for my comment! But there are people out there who needs to learn how to respect the Indigenous people rather than the newcomers to the land! We love our country the way it is and am proud that Andy is doing a good job on speaking the truth about the Thai's perspective about the Khmers! I would love to see Cambodia without tourists but that's not going to happen since it plays a big role in Cambodia but hopefully one day we will figure out a way to boost the economy! Like I said! We lost so much to our neighbor but we will move on because I know that all of this was just a political game played by the white man!Dear Andy if you delete my comment go ahead but delete it for a good reason! Proud Indigenous Khmer!

October 27, 2009 at 3:06 PM  

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