Go shrine seeing, prison strolling in CambodiaSeptember 13th, 2011 - 9:45 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) A Communist legacy in the form of ghastly souvenirs, an ancient town with over 100 temples of Hindu origin, a port city with spotless beaches — the tourism map of Cambodia, hard-selling itself as a prime Asian destination to Indians, is etched in extremes.
The violent legacy of the Communist regime of the former Khmer Rouge in capital city Phnom Penh is in sharp contrast to the mystical Siem Reap, the temple town.
“We are promoting Cambodia as a holistic destination for mid-segment and high-end Indian tourists with a refined sense of history and cultural sensitivity,” Chhoeng Monny, deputy director (marketing and promotions) of Cambodian tourism, told IANS.
Bordering the gulf of Thailand adjoining Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodia — the land of surprises — is spread across 181,035 sq km in the heart of Southeast Asia within the lush tropics.
“The destination that attracts maximum Indian tourists is Siem Reap, which sprung around the majestic 12th century Angkor Vat temple built by Suryavarman II,” Monny told IANS at the recent Pacific-Asia Tourism Association (PATA) Travel Mart 2011 in the capital.
Angkor Vat, with its surrounding temple cluster, is a Unesco heritage site.
The inflow of Indian tourists to Cambodia has shown a 12.5 percent increase in the last one year, the tourism official said.
“In 2010, Cambodia drew 13,542 Indian tourists — an increase of 8.68 percent from 2009. In the first semester (January to June) of 2011, the country logged 7,019 Indian arrivals, an increase of 12.5 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2010,” Monny said.
The biggest tourist segments from India are large groups of leisure travellers and FIT — free individual travellers — usually on a week’s break to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, Monny said.
“Cambodia provides visa on arrival which encourages travel trade operators from India to customise itineraries for large groups,” he said.
A four-city package costs an individual anywhere from Rs.33,000 and Rs.93,000.
The Siem Reap temple circuit comprises Angkor Vat, Ta Prohm temple, Boeng Mealea, Kbal Spean and Bayon temple - dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and the Buddha. The shrines are flanked by the Mount Kulen National Park, 25 km from the Angkor group of temples, Monny said.
In the 9th century, the mountain was sacred to the Cambodian Khmer kings of Vaishnavite and Shaivite origin.
“The Hindu spiritual connect strikes a spiritual chord in Indian tourists,” Monny said.
The country is a goldmine of stories which lurk in the bustling corners of the crowded Phnom Penh streets, dotted with kiosks hawking amok, a local delicacy of vegetables and fish, says Thourn Sinan, who heads PATA’s Cambodia chapter.
Sinan “lost his father to the atrocities of Pol Pot in the November of 1975″.
“I was a year old and my mother could not ask anyone fearing for our lives. We lived in the village till I was old enough to migrate to the city,” Sinan told IANS.
The relic of Khmer Rouge terror is located 17 km south of the capital city at a former orchard, Choeung Ek — known as “The Killing Fields”, named after the Academy award winning movie by Ronald Joffe on Khmer atrocities, Sinan said.
“This is the place where the Khmer Rouge executed 17,000 people between 1975 and 1979. Many of those killed were inmates of the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh where the Khmer Communists interrogated and tortured anti-state protesters,” Sinan said.
The Tuol Sleng prison, now a museum of the dead, is a popular tourist site.
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- President Patil to visit Laos and Cambodia - Sep 07, 2010
- Cambodia flash floods trap nearly 200 tourists in historic temple - Sep 24, 2011
- President Patil leaves for Laos, Cambodia to further advance India's Look East policy - Sep 09, 2010
- Traditional welcome given to President Patil in Siem Reap - Sep 16, 2010
- Final Shelters Of Khmer Rouge To Turn Into Tourist Spots - Mar 11, 2010
- President leaves for Laos, Cambodia on Thursday to advance India's Look East policy - Sep 08, 2010
- Khmer Rouge Prison Chief Sentenced To 35 Years - Jul 26, 2010
- Norwegian arrested in Cambodia on underage sex charges - Jan 22, 2010
- Khmer Rouge prison chief sentenced to 35 years in prison - Jul 26, 2010
- Cambodia Stampede Claims 345 Lives, Leaves Hundreds Injured - Nov 23, 2010
- President Patil mesmerized by Angkor Wat, advocates cultural exchange - Sep 17, 2010
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