As more travelers swarm into Cambodia to enjoy the country's warm blue skies and welcoming people, Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth will fly out of the country this month for a chilly whirlwind tour of Europe. The debonair diplomat will depart March 1 for a ten day promotional excursion through Berlin; Paris; Brussels, Belgium; and Austria. While away, he plans to wow Asean industrial specialists with the many natural and cultural jewels shining bright in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
His Excellency Veng Sereyvuth also will begin to rally support for a proposed one to two week-long festival to be set against the majestic backdrop of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Capitalizing on the success of the internationally acclaimed Jose Carreras operatic bonanza in December, the Ministry of Tourism has realized what sophisticated audiences, like you Readers, may be attracted to combine historical sites with musical history in the making. Visitors also will be pleased to hear that trekking to nearly a dozen ancient temples will be more worth their while than ever now that the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has designated the sties to become tourist attractions. Eleven temples were chosen to benefit from preservation projects, improved accessibility, and unique face-lifts distinctive to each temple's individual design.
Culture-seekers must head to at least a few of these treasured sites: Preah Vihear, a temple resting atop a tall cliff on the Thai border. This sight is in the running for World Heritage Status. Koh Ker, a step pyramid from the 10th century in Preah Vihear, is an unlikely but very lucky benefactor, as are Preah Khan Kompong Svay and Banan, in Kompong Thom and Battambang respectively. The Pre-Angkorian Sambor Prei Kuk temple and the Angkor-era Banteay Chhmar and Banteay Toap temples are worth a visit. While in Siem Reap, why not jet 30 km over to see the ruins of Beng Melea, or head to the popular Phnom Kulen. The latter is high-traveled pilgrimage site near the Angkor temples.
Takeo province is host to two would-be tourist attractions: Phnom Chisor and Angkor Borei, while Kompong Speu houses just the one Odong temple. Whether landing or taking off, travelers might notice that Cambodia's airport is sporting a new name. Pochentong Airport has been renamed the Phnom Penh International Airport, upon a overnmental decree. The airport also is undergoing remodeling to ensure that the beginning or end of each visitor's stay here in Cambodia is truly a comfortable experience.
When the sun is shining too brightly outside, foreigners and locals alike often seek solace in the dim glow of a TV. While channel surfacing, why not catch Cambodia's new wave of social-oriented television programs? Cambodian Voices on TV 3 features speakers from local and foreign NGOs, human rights groups and youth associations. The guests bat around social issues that are affecting Cambodia today. If you're stuck inside to avoid the heat, there's what better way to get to know who Cambodia really is? Movie fans visiting Cambodia in early March may get to be a part of the action surrounding "Two Brothers," a feature film being shot across the country. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud plans to wrap up production at the beginning of the month after shooting scenes for the movie in Phnom Penh, Takeo, Kompong Chhang, Kompong Cham and Mondolkiri provinces. Wherever you are or whatever you do in Cambodia, the fun and excitement of the Khmer Kingdom surely will be a shining star on your map of memories.