Monday, 30 April 2012

Z: Zosteropidae palpebrosus( Oriental White Eye Warbler)

Oriental White-eye - Zosterops palpebrosus
Oriental White Eye Warbler
Zosteropidae palpebrosus (The Oriental White eye Warbler )

This sub-tropical bird is found mainly in  China as well as Cambodia and throughout Asia. It is a migratory bird and they do their mating in northern China. They migrate in the winter season to South Asia.

These pretty little birds are only 8-9 cms and are very distinctive with their yellow marking over their heads, necks and plumage. This makes them easy to be seen.

They go around in small groups and live on nectar from the flowers and small  insects. There are several different species and they all come in a variety of colours. Which places them in the sub-species.
To find out more Click on the link here

Chestnut White Eye Warbler

Zosteropidae erythropleurus Chestnut Flanked White Eye Warbler

This species is Red listed Endangered and can be seen in Cambodia's bird sanctuary where they are safe.
These birds make theirs nests high up in the trees of the Poplar, Alder, Willow and both varieties of deciduous and evergreen trees and forest. They will lay up to three eggs per nest.

To learn more check out the link here

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Y: Yellow ((Hieremys annandalii)

Y: Yellow (Hieremys annandalii)  which I hope you will find interesting, I certainly did.

Y is for Yellow and today, I will introduce you to my little friend the -Yellow headed Temple Turtle. These are very large aquatic turtles and they live in the pools and canals around the Buddhist Temples. They have no teeth  as they live on the vegetation and water lilies. Their colouring is interesting with yellow decorative stripes around its head. and under his shell. The top of his shell has two black spots one on either side when young. As he becomes and adult the spots become larger and blend together.

In Cambodia they are found in pools and canals close to the Buddhist temples. They prefer damp wet  evergreen forests and flood plains. when in the rivers, they prefer slow running water.

Friday, 27 April 2012

X : Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis

Horned Green Frog

Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis | Aural Horned Frog

There are four new species of frogs which have been found in the Cardamon Mountains and here I hope to tell you a little of Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis, as this post is about the letter Xenophrys.

Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis is the latest species found on the "Phnom Aural" Cardamons highest mountain in Cambodia and is to be viewed at the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary.  This frog has green blood and purple bones and measures 76.7 mm long. They prefer a damp moist area where it is cool, under leaves at the edge of green forests and approximately 250-300 metres from the river. The small tadpoles of this species were seen on the rocks in a fast flowing river.

I couldn't find a picture of a Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis. I have therefore posted a  Horned Green frog instead.

Reference Ohler, A., S. R. Swan, and J. C. Daltry. 2002

Thursday, 26 April 2012

W; West Baray

West Mebon Baray – a vast man-made lake

As we were staying a few days in Siem Reap we took a trip to see the West Baray reservoir.  This is one of the largest man-made lakes in Cambodia. It looks extremely natural and measures 8 by 2.1 kilometres. It was constructed east-westerly and is close to Angkor Thom. It's water is contained by high wide dyke's and  both the baray/ reservoir and the island were built by the Khmer soldiers and on it stands the West Mebon Hindu Temple.

The French believed that the West Baray was built to hold large tanks of water with irrigation pipes to feed the rice fields. After careful architectural research it was found that on the base of the lake, walls, steps and pottery objects were found with an inscription on them with 713 AD showing signs of early day settlements.

The east dyke runs down and around the Angkor Thom the capital city of King Yasavarman with the Bethang temple at its centre. There were some places submerged beneath the water. The south dyke partially covered a brick section of the A K Tung temple.

The water is clean and the local people visit to swim  and sail the boats. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

V: Vulture - Bird of Prey

Vultures Birds of Prey

Here we have our favourite bird of all time. The Scavengers of the Jungle. 

Vultures found within the province of Stung Treng in Cambodia are between 70-85 cm high. This is classed as medium size. Their heads are darkish with a pinkish grey colouring with silver beaks. They have quite large round eyes and their necks are thick and short, with a white collar around the bottom, a dark black plumage covers the top down to the rump  lower feather which are a silver colour..

The main threat to these birds of prey is caused by lack of sustainable food. With the continual hunting and poaching of buffalo over the years there has been a decline on numbers of vultures in areas of china and Eastern Asia. This was partially caused by a drug used on domestic farm animals to reduce inflammation.  Unfortunately the drug residue remains in carcasses and the vultures were poisoned when consuming the meat.

Apparently the drug is absent in Cambodia and a group of supporting  farmers have set up vulture restaurants to help feed these critically endangered birds. There are two restaurants one in Stung Treng province and the other Siempang and Seasan. These restaurants have been set up by local agricultural farmers by dropping off cows that have not been treated with the drug dichlofenic. Rangers are monitoring and supervising each  restaurant. It has been noted since 1980 that 171  vultures were counted at vulture restaurants.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

U: Ursus thybetinus

Cambodia Black Bear

There are eight species of bears throughout the world but Cambodian has the black and Sun brown  bears. These are beautiful animals with large bodies and thick sturdy legs. Their heads are broad between the ears with a long snout and smallish eyes. They have flat padded paws with five sharp non-retractable claws.

With an acute sense of smell, it helps them to find berries and other tasty snacks which is their main diet. They have a quick athletic build and are excellent swimmers and climbers. They make their homes in burrows and caves and some do hibernate in the wild. They are naturally very unsociable but have been seen in small groups. This is generally mother bears with their cubs.Ursidae (The Family)

They are nocturnal but some can be crepuscular becoming active (Dawn and Dusk) or diurnal active during (daylight hours).

These beautiful animals are taken as cubs, put in cages and basically tortured and starved only to entertain tourists and travellers or used for medicine. Some are kept tied up and their body parts are removed when still alive and are used for soups, medicine and other awful cruel painful extremes. These beautiful animals are being hunted and butchered as we speak.

Keeping or poaching bears is illegal in Cambodia and despite recent efforts to increase penalties both hunting and killing of the Sun bear and Asiatic black bear continues.

There are many ways to help save these lovely creatures -  at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Monday, 23 April 2012

T: Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap Sunsets

Tonle Sap is a large freshwater lake situated  not far away from Seim Reap and the Angkor City. 

During the wet season the Tonle Sap lake becomes swollen and  the people who live there during the wet season move back to the flood plain. Their homes are made of wood and sit upon stilts. Tonle Sap is the largest fresh water lake in the whole of Asia.

In the dry season the lake is 2500km wide and one metre deep but during the wet season  the lake expands to a massive  12000 km and three times the depth at least.. The home of the villagers  is 16km South East of Seim Reap and the lake is surrounded by mangrove forests. This whole area is the home to a large variety of crab eating birds.

Ang Trapeng Thmor is a Reserve for the Sarus Crane.of which  there are 300 of this species and 200 of other wild bird species.

Prey Taol is the Wild birds Sanctuary, it is the home of many of Cambodia's large wild birds and is the perfect home for bird watchers. The best time to see these birds is in the dry season, when the birds arrive to breed. The local people rely on the fish and shrimps which are harvested.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

S: Sihanoukville


The history of Sihanoukville goes back only as far as 1955 when the area was then known as kampong Saom. In August of that year a group of construction workers made camp in an area of the jungle which they decided was unoccupied. This was to be the base camp for the building of the new port of Kampong Saon.   1954, Indochina,  Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were one unit within French authority. It was during this time that Cambodia continued to  maintain control of the international sea trade on the Mekong river. The dissolution of the French Indochina in 1954, meant that the Mekong Delta could revert back to the control of the Vietnam. The Vietnam administered support to access the ocean by putting into action the construction and building of the port. They decided on Kampong Saon because of its depth of water and because it was more accessible.

Sihanoukville has since become a resort which is offering a wide scale of activities and top class holiday accommodation. It is five minutes away from Sokha beach and is about a kilometre long. it is well kept and  and open to the public.

Siamese  crocodiles

Wildlife National Park

Siamese crocodiles have been in decline for a number of years. According to experts, they say there are only 250 Siamese crocodiles left that are roaming wild in Cambodia. Some have spread themselves over a wider area than what was originally thought. The area now cover includes Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and possibly Thailand.

It was recently noted, that a nest of 22 eggs had been found, out in the Cardamom mountains in Cambodia. The nest was found in the jungle by a researcher who had been on the look out  for crocodile eggs... Fifteen of the eggs were removed from the nest and taken to safety. They were then placed in a compost heap incubation area to stay until they hatched. The others were left behind as the researcher thought they might not hatch at all. A camera  trap had been set up to keep an eye on the eggs in the nest in case of predators.

Shortly afterwards the fifteen eggs began to hatch naturally, and  it showed that the other seven were hatching also. Only a small amount of these crocodiles will survive and it will take up to fifteen years for each one to reach maturity.

Due to the decline in numbers these crocodiles have been listed critically endangered reptiles. The Chouerng people believe that the crocodiles are forest spirits and should not be harmed in anyway. Hopefully the young Siamese crocodiles will be taken care of until they are a year old. They will be allowed to return to a wild but somewhere where they will hopefully be protected. The harsh world of hunters are out there who love their soft skin, also the breeders who stock them to cross with larger crocodiles. This will weaken their species and the fear is that they may become through time extinct.

The operation to protect and hatch the eggs was mounted by United Kingdom-based Fauna and Flora International, for whom conservation of this once-abundant species is a key program.

Friday, 20 April 2012

R: Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri's  History

From the Stone Age to the /Bronze Age in the 4th century, the towns and regions of the highlander people were invaded by armies of Annamites, Chams, Khmer and Thai during the early years. Between 13th - 18th centuries, Highlands and villages were raided and prisoners were taken as slaves by the kings slave traders.

The French arrived 1893 and incorporated French Indochina area with a communal rule replacing slavery. Rubber plantations were built and the local people where forced to work.They did not like communal rule to begin with but later became weak and accepted it. Ratanakiri province was created 1959, the land in and around it had originally been Shing Treng Province and the name Ratanakiri was made up from the word Ratana = "Gem"  and Kiri "Mountain" both from Sanskrit giri) two features for which Ratanakiri is known.

1950-1960 Khmer campaigned in north-east Cambodia to bring the villagers under government rule.  They were put to work on roads and the rubber plantations. The working  conditions were horrendous and the people forced to work.  If they didn't cooperate the Khmer burnt the villages and killing hundreds of people.

In 1969 - 1970 The United States moved in and bombed the region, forcing Khmer  people out of the town to forage for food as they ran to escape the Khmer. 1970 Central government withdrew their troops leaving Khmer Rouge regime to pick up the pieces. These were harsh times but then  life became much worse. Khmer Lao were not allowed to speak in their native tongue nor practise their religious faith, schools were closed, which were believed incompatible with the communists.

In 1979 the Vietnamese defeated the Khmer. after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, its rebels remained in the forests of Ratanakiri.

Female Baby Elephant

Ratanakiri Wildlife National Park

Ratanakiri with its monsoon climate, lowland tropical forest and it mountainous hilly forestry make it the ideal home for some of their wild animals within the asian mainland. There are two provinces, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri where its been recorded that there are over 40 species of mammals, which include Asian elephants, gaur and monkey's. 76 species of birds, and  9 reptile species. Within the Virachey National Park alone there are 30 species of ants, 19 Katydid species, 37 species of fish, 35 species of reptile, 26 species of amphibian numerous others which not been observed enough yet.. Areas have been placed within the park for the different species including the endangered species of birds, giant ibis. The floral ground cover of around 320 types of ground cover and 189 tree species including young saplings. Almost half of Ratanakiri has been put out to endangered species to protect them, these areas include Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary. and the Virachey National park.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Q: Queen

There have only been two Queens that have been documented during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, from the year 1181 AD and during that time were recognised as very good years. He was a great king leaving his stamp on Cambodian history.

King Jayavarman VII and his two Queens created a wonderful Khmer Empire. His first Queen Jayarajadevi was his first wife with incredible talent in architecture but later died and he married her sister Queen Indradevi, both sisters and devout Buddhists. The second queen was also an architect, they both advised in the structure and designs of  the temples. They nurtured social changes for the people of Cambodia helping in the organisation of religious education for the future generation. The king built different functions and memorials for his parents. They were great war leaders as a triad. Together with the King not only did  he cover architecture but places of education, hospitals and rest places for weary travellers. Wherever the king went his queen's were close behind him.

In 1989 the World Monument Fund spent a great deal of time and money doing such good work  to maintain this beautiful temple Preah Khan. They classified these two Queen's were apsaras or deities.  This allowed the locals to deface these queens, so that they could worship them. Hence the statues have lipstick, powder and incense around them. These were the only sculptures to have precious stones encrusted in their crown, and other areas of their bodies as well as golden hoops in their ears. All of which have been stolen or lobes hacked off.  It is believed that these two statues were indeed queens and not apsaras after all.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

P: Preah Kahn

Preah Khan temple is within the Angkor Wat City. It was built in the twelfth century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. This temple was built in a flat design with rectangular galleries. It was both Buddhist and Hindu religions, which historians thought must caused some conflict. Angkor Thom lay to the north-east of Preah Khan, with Jayataka Baray, which lay to the west. The temple was run by a very large type of organisation accommodating up to 100,000 officials and servants.

King Jayavarman gained his victory when in combat with the Chams in 1191. The word Chams, stands for "Holy Sword", the original name was Nagar Jayasari - which meant "Holy City of Victory".
It was believed that the area where the temple stood had once been occupied by Royal Palaces for the King Yasavaraman II and also Tribhvranadityvarman. According to history the statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvarary, had been carved in the image of the King's father was dedicated in 1191 by his mother who later was commemorated at Ta Phrohm.  History has given lots of information and any independent  statue's found within the temple were removed to safety. In the foundations of the temple, stood a tall and wide, block of stone or wood which was inscribed with bas-relief. This was used for funerals and commemorated purposes, it also had titles and names painted onto it.

In 1927 - 1932 the temple jungle was cleared but in certain areas tree shoots had grown up through the foundations of the buildings. Little could be done to return the beautiful  temple to its original form. Apart from the trees and vegetation the temple structure was in a poor state of decay. Despite its condition the temple was believed to have been quite magnificent in its day, with its gold statues, silver, gems, pearls and perfume.

Discovery of this beautiful temple, being found under prolific conditions of jungle vegetation, it was agreed to leave the temple as it stood but to run a maintenance program to help restore it without falsifying its history.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

O: Ox Cambodian or Kouprey

The Ox (Kouprey) - is an animal who is shy and evasive.  He stands 5'6" to his shoulder and is grayish in colour. His horns split at the age of three and become frayed as he grows older. He is solid in build and has a large piece of skin which hangs from his neck.  His appetite is huge as he enjoys a good feed of hillside grassland in the open spaces, with dense forestry close by to cool him from the heat of the sun  and protects him from predators.

He and his family group together enjoy a nice muddy pool. There is nothing better, than a mud pool for him and the heard to cool themselves. Another strong part of his personality is that he stays very close to the herd which can be anything up to 20 Oxen, The herd consists of cows, calves and young bulls. The average bull weighs between 680-910kg (1500-2000)lbs.

The Ox (Kouprey)was first known in the West around 1937. It  became knowledge that the Ox had been seen in the north eastern countries including Cambodia. During the years from 1940-1960 there was a notable decline in the numbers of the Ox and by the 1970's due to hunting these beautiful beasts were thought to have become extinct.

However over the years and by 1986, news brought hope, that the Ox  had been seen in southern Laos, eastern Thailand, western Vietnam and southern China, that the breed was still existed. It was believed that the breed had disappeared from Cambodia, but due to hoof tracks being seen and their horns and skulls being sold in the open markets, it was noted that there is still Ox out on the plains of Cambodia.

Monday, 16 April 2012

N: Neak Pean

Neak Pean temple, on a circular island in the centre of Preah Khan Baray. This very small temple was constructed by King Jayavarman VII, who ruled Cambodia towards the end of the 12th century.

The water surrounding the temple was constructed to provide its support workers with plenty water. The Neak Pean was built as a reservoir, east of Preah Khan. The reservoir was large enough to supply water to irrigate the rice fields during the dry season.  The water went into the first main pool, then it was broken into four smaller pools, finally a further eight pools. The island  was in the centre with a single tower made of sandstone. The reason for building this temple was unknown. Khmer kings, however were known to place islands within Lakes (Barays).  It has been suggested that Neak Pean represents a shrine commonly placed on an island at the centre of a Baray.

It is said that Neak Pean represents a mythical lake in the Himalayas, where waters were thought to cure all illness. Descriptions of Anavatapta include references to four surrounding springs spewing forth from the mouths of a lion, an elephant, a horse, or an ox. This closely corresponds to Neak Pean—its central pond drains into the four surrounding pools through gargoyles shaped like a lion, an elephant, a horse, and a man. It is uncertain whether one gargoyle is a man or an ox.

The shrine has the head of a flaring serpent and its head is similar to a lambshead. There are two serpents and they are brothers. Each has its own name which is Nanda and Upananda. Both of these brothers live in the mythical lake Anatapta, This name is given for the main pool which is close to Mt. Meru. These two serpent brothers are responsible for making it rain.  The rain fills the main lake and then pours into the four  rivers of the world. This is symbolised by the four smaller pools. Then a further eight pools Between the heads of the two serpents is a horse with men hanging onto it. This symbolises the Balaha,  spirit of the Buddha Avalokitashvara who he rescues men from wrecks in the Indian Ocean.

It was believed that pilgrims used the dark chamber to stand in, believing their sins would be washed away by the water pouring through the chamber into the smaller pools. They would pour water into the sphinx from the main pool. This would then feed into another pool.

There are several headed serpent's also known as Nagas, around the outside of the shrine. Originally the shrine had four entrances but three of them have been closed and the access was by the south entrance representing Avalokiteshvara. There were stone lions and triple headed elephants in each corner  of the shrine.

Neofelis nebulosa (Clouded Leopard) Red listed Endangered

This particular endangered species is a nocturnal cat which lives most of it's life up in the tree tops. It prefers to stay hidden and it is near impossible to get photographs of this beautifully marked cat. The clouded leopard seeks solitude and its history is unknown.  The presence of this beautiful carnivore has only been confirmed by camera traps in Mondulkiri province in Cambodia. Like most large cats, the clouded leopard is under threat due to hunting for the wildlife trade.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

M: Mondulkiri with it's Waterfalls

Mondulkiri is located  eastern border with Cambodia and Vietnam. The scenery and the climate are quite unlike anywhere else in Cambodia. In dry season the weather is  hot with sunshine and during their summer the weather maximum between 27-31ºC.  The hills are covered in grass and you will see pine trees clumped together against the winds. The night temperature can drop considerably and  it can get quite chilly.  It is a hilly and forested area and home of the Phnong people. Its low density population (three inhabitants/km2) coupled with the road situation make it a remote and isolated area with various consequences for access to health care.

The Monorom Waterfall is perfectly located in Deum Sral Village,in the Sèn Monorom District; 5 km away from the main town. It can be accessed by road. There are industrial plantations like rubber, coffee, and cashew nuts on either side of the road.  There are around 277 families living in the Monorom area and their main occupations are farming. Its main points of interest are a spectacular waterfall, dramatic mountainous forest, and fresh air.

The Monorom Waterfall is known by two names, firstly Monorom Waterfall and also “Damnak Sdéch Waterfall” which is located 300-400 m away from the Preah Norodom Sihanouk’s pavilion which was founded between 1960 -1962.

Mondulkiri is located in the north-east of Cambodia bordering Vietnam. Mondulkiri province consists of numerous waterfalls, indigenous culture, national parks and elephant trekking.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

K: Koh Kong

Koh Kong province is located in the south west from Phnom Penh. The coastline stretches approximately 273 km and consists of mountains and beaches with 20 outer islands. There are many other attractions including, forests, waterfalls and fishing.  Koh Kong, with its many tourist attractions seems to be the place to go on holidays and is well advertised.

However, my trip to Cambodia was somewhat different as my niece had decided we would backpack down to Tonle Bati, it was off the beaten track and we were to spend so many hours walking and some on the boat sailing down the river. On our arrival at Tonle Bati  we visited the two 12th century temples which were very close to the beautiful  Bati Lake. We didn't stay long but the beautiful lake was well worth seeing. Due to the huge amount of temples you reach a stage where you can end up feeling  templed out.

There were days when we did have some rough rides on the river but the view made it all the more worth while. The people were lovely and the children's happy little faces, shone like beacons, with their dark olive skin and bright white teeth.  At one point we came upon a young family with their three children. They were having tea and they were living in a dilapidated remains of a tin hut. Sitting on a cloth, on the earth floor. When we first arrived in Phnom Penh, we visited the market and as we walked along the road I recall seeing families sleeping on the street pavements, father, mother and children and babies lying flat out on the ground in the hot sun.

It opened my eyes and made me aware how fortunate life was for me.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

J: Jungle Child

On the 13 January 2007, a young woman was reported, emerging out of the jungle at Ratanakerii Provence in the remote north eastern part of Cambodia.. She was naked, filthy, and to crawled on her hands and feet. A man was later seen and he was naked and filthy too. The woman had stolen food from a worker's lunch box. He had followed and tracked her into the jungle. A family from a nearby village claimed she was their daughter "Rochom P'ngieng" (born 1988) that they had lost 18 or 19 years previously at the age of 8 years. She and her younger sister were watching water buffalo in the jungle near to the Vietnam border when they both disappeared. The 6 year old was never seen again. The woman was called the feral child as she could not say any words.

A journalist thought she had been possibly kept in captivity. She had scars on her wrists and ankles. They thought the scars were due to rope injuries. The man who said she was his daughter, Rochom Soy, recognised her by scars she had on her arm, which she had received from a knife injury prior to her disappearance. Her father said her facial structure was similar to that of her mother's. It was arranged for blood tests to prove they were related  but the family backed out at the last minute. They found that after a few weeks later the girl struggled to  come to terms with a civilised way of living. She was timid and kept trying to run away back to the jungle.

A reporter who visited one day, thought it purely coincidence and that she had probably been the victim of sexual torture of some kind. By the condition of her feet she had not been in the woods for that many years. Apparently, she could eat with a spoon without needing anyone to show her. Through time she could speak three words, mother, father and stomach ache.


I seem to have a shortage of some letters and so I have spread my wings and have flown south to the coastline.

In 1955 the french/Cambodian construction team made a base camp in a part of the jungle which was unoccupied in  Kampong Som. This was to be the beginning of the construction of the new fishing port. A few years prior to 1955, Cambodia had maintained control of International sea fishing via the Mekong river. After the dissolvement of Indochina,  Mekong Delta took control of Vietnam. This gave them access to the ocean, control of fishing and the building of a new fishing port was agreed.  In 1955-1960 a new road was built. The funding for the road came from France and USA. The workers for the construction of the fishing port, lived in Kampong Som and once the project was completed it was renamed by the King, Sihnoukville.

Due to the fishing port being a great success they also built a hotel on Independence Beach or Sihanoukville and named it Independence Hotel.  Sihanoukville, is situated south west of Phnom Penh the capital of Cambodia.

The beach is long and narrow but when the tide is low there is enough space to relax and enjoy the peaceful sound of the ocean waves. What could be nicer, than wide open space, warm blue waters and soft white sands together with occasional palms to shelter you from the hot sun-rays. As you meander along the sand, the grass umbrellas and cool drinks are available to quench your thirst. Making your way north along the waters-edge, you feel the warm breeze from the ocean gently caressing your shoulders and the sand creeps up between your toes.  Further ahead is a fresh water lake, which is the fresh water source for the town of Phnom Penh.

It has been said, "Crocodiles have been known to bathe there!" 

Monday, 9 April 2012

H: (Hyelaphus porcinus annamiticus)

Hog Deer

Hyelaphus porcinus annamiticus ( (
Hog Deer is a native of Cambodia. It is in fact a sub-species of the (Hyelaphus porcinus.) Here we have a handsome, strapping male stag, standing approximately 70cms to the shoulder. The female (hind) is smaller in comparison standing only at 60cms. They are both solidly built with long backs and comparatively short legs, unlike other breeds of deer. Their back-line gradually rises from the shoulders and up over their rump. Their ears are round in shape. The older deer are lighter in colour around their faces.

During the winter months their coats are brown to yellow colour, thick and woolly fur with a dark brown to yellow dorsal stripe, down the centre of their backs.  At the beginning of summer season, light brown spots appear on either side of the dorsal stripe from the shoulder to the point of their tail. Their tail's are brown with white long hairs at the tip which they use like a fan, this acts as a warning if a predator is close.

The male (stag) is only sociable during the mating season, otherwise they remain solitary darting off in different directions and rarely in a herd. When danger is close they give a whistling or barking sound. Males are aggressive and territorial, they mark their boundaries with glandular secretions and are always ready to defend their mate at any given time. Their young fauns are a light sand brown in colour and this species may not have spots when young.

These Hog Deer are almost extinct in certain regions and Cambodia. This is mainly due to the loss of wetlands because the land is being used for farming or building construction. Some of their main threats are hunting, lack of habitat and predators. These are another animal species red listed.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

G: Giant Gourami

The Mekong river begins in Vietnam, flowing down into the Mekong basin in Cambodia, there it continues down into the Tonle Sap river. Over the years the Tonle Sap river has become one of the largest freshwater productive fisheries in the world. It helps to support and diversifies from the species and has become the home to some of the worlds, most endangered species of fish as well as reptiles and birds.

Giant Gourami - this fish is 50 cms when fully grown. Its scientific name is (Osphronemus exodon) Its natural habitat includes East Asia, Cambodia. China, Thailand to name but a few. It has been introduce to other countries because it is well liked. It's habitat is in cool lakes and rivers of the Mekong. During the wet season it makes its way up stream and does not return until after the wet season. When the river is low the Gourami migrates and in stagnant water it lays it's eggs near to the shore.

Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) all of wild life enclosed are red listed which puts them into the category for critical endangered species to name but a few. The last giant catfish which was caught in the Mekong, it weighed approximately six hundred pounds and was eight feet long. The catfish similar to the salmon swim up stream to migrate. The difference between the two fishes is that the giant catfish lives in the muddy water at the bottom of the river where as the salmon swim in from clearer waters, yet the still both swim thousands of miles up stream when they migrate. Over recent years due to over fishing, pollution, lack of damming, these fish are now in decline.  It is believed that over one hundred years ago there were around 1000 individual species. Due to the rapid decline in numbers they are trying to catch  and tagging them before setting them free.

The people of Cambodia rely on the Mekong to provide fish for market but if the Mekong river can't support the fish, then it wont be able to support the people either.

Birds, Reptiles and Monkey
The Redheaded Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) The vulture has been in decline over the years and the professional's feel this is possibly due to the the local farmers treating their live stock with the various drugs. The vulture's are being poisoned when eat the dead carcasses. According to recent facts there are only 300 vultures left in Cambodia.
Sarus Crane (Boeung Prek Lapouv Sarus Crane) This beautiful bird has red markings to its face and grey body,  it stands approximately 5'9" high and is the largest flying bird.
The Bengal floricans (Houbaropis bengalensis) looks similar to a large duck with black plumage to the head, neck and belly. Its wings look white against their black bodies or when in flight. A very rare bird and there are only 500 are left.

One of the reptile species is the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) this is a native to Cambodia. Since the late 1990's this crocodile was thought to be extinct, however due to surveys there are more scattered throughout several other countries.
The Douc monkey (Pygathrix cinerea) which is grey, can be seen close to areas in Angkor City Complex. Their numbers have dropped also.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

F: Flying

Prior to my trip to Cambodia I have a tale to tell.  A friend booked a lesson gliding for both of us.  The date was arranged and off we both went to the aerodrome in Northumberland. Perhaps I should mention here that my friend had been in the army and had flown all over the world.  However, at this point I had never been in a plane let alone flying in one.. My friend took her lesson first then on return went for a drink. I was kitted up and climbed on board. The engine started and off we went. I must say, I had no idea what was to follow. We were towed along behind another plane and  as it left the ground, what a strange feeling being tugged up into the air like that. It was worse than being towed behind a broken down old banger. However, once up in the sky we were on our own and it was amazing.

I booked my trip to Cambodia soon afterwards. My flight from EDI-AMS-HKG took fourteen hours. I stayed with my sister in Hong Kong for five days, then flew on to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia.  On arrival I was met by my niece and taken in a tuc-tuc to the Raffles Hotel where we were to stay for one night. The journey was a real culture experience.  My night at the Raffle's Hotel was lovely, I enjoyed being waited on hand and foot. It was hard to comprehend passing all those derelict building's one after the other - later to arrive at this very Grand Hotel. My room was enormous, cold marble stone floors with en-suite. The bath was absolutely humongous and took forever to fill. I think we seemed to be the only visitors that night but it was very nice.

Our flight from Phnom Pehn to Seim Reap was the following morning. As we waited for our flight I couldn't help noticing my niece's face each time I mentioned anything about the plane, occasionally I'd hear a chuckle, but she always avoided eye contact. When it was time to board to my horror, parked in the dock was this tin bucket shape with wings attached to some wheels (It reminded me of the tug-plane that I went gliding with back home.)  This was so dirty you couldn't make out its colour.  Once on board we belted up and the pilot a youngish looking man started it's engines. Very gradually we began to move off. The tin frame work creaked as we moved off down the runway. After two or three attempts the plane eventually lifted into the air but as it did so the engines seemed to cough and splutter like a farting cow with severe wind.  As we flew overland you could see the tops of trees through the cracks in the door of the plane. Every now and again it would lose altitude and we'd drop and then it would pick up and be fine.. It was only a forty minute flight but it felt much much longer!!

Cambodia was not very commercialised at this point.

E is for East Mebon - Temple

East Mebon sits in the centre of Baray - which is a self made reservoir that measures 4.3 miles. The island on which stands the delightful monument East Mebon with its receding terraces with five towers, the central tower is quite large in comparison with the other smaller four.  What a perfect setting beneath the sky-line the radiant sunsets reflecting in the surrounding water.

East Mebon was built by King Yasovarman II in a similar style as Pre Rup in Eastern Baray in early years of  900-986 AD. They called it temple mountain. It was built east to west and entry to it was from the east entrance. It was built of durable materials of that time, mainly brick, sandstone, laterite and stucco. The layout of the temple consisted of tiers with a central tower placed on a square platform built up of three levels. The smaller towers were built surrounding the central tower, plus an inner and outer  stone wall.

Religious carvings and statues were selected to decorate the temple monument and stone carved two metre high elephants standing independently in each corner on the first two tiers.. Sadly, the waters of the Baray have dried up, but there is still proof that water had been there by the dyke's surrounding it.


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

D - for Devatas

D - Is for Devata or deity (God or Goddess) which can be either a  masculine, feminine or animal. These deities were very beautiful with their slender bodies and beautiful long hair. Shiva - a major deity is believed to be the destroyer of evil or transformer among the Tumuti which is a concept within Hinduism that comes in three forms. Cosmic creation, maintenance and destruction represented by Brahma the Creator, Hindu Triad, Vishnu maintaner or preserver.

For many lifetimes these deities were worshipped by certain clans. These clans were from various religions including Hinduism and Jainism.. They would make long and endless pilgrimage's to visit Kuladevata in Kuladeri temple in search of blessings if there was to be a marriage or some other special occasion. The Kuladevata means - Clan and Devata - Deity.

A picture of Tumuti shows three heads on a single neck and on each head, three faces, each looking in different directions.

Monday, 2 April 2012

C: Chau Say Tevoda Temple

During  1120-1150AD, King Suryavarman II, designer of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom created a small  beautifully feminine Hindu temple  Chau Say Tevoda.  King Yasovarman II, reigned 1160-1166 and during his six years he added his delights to the temple. In 1181 King Jayavarman VII, took over and incorporated his own artistic female designs, including devatas both inside the temple and out. The temple was then converted from Hinduism to Buddhism.

Chao Say Tevoda temple consisted of one central sanctuary, two libraries and four gate-ways, which stood at each cardinal point. Sadly due to centuries of natural corrosion and decay  Chao  Say Tevoda longer exists.

Ceiba pentandra
Commonly know as the kapok is very fast growing deciduous tree. Reaching well over one hundred fifty feet high. It grows in Preay Kan where its roots grow through doorways entrances and roofs. The flower blooms at night borne in clusters of pink, white or yellow. The leaves are lanceolate and palmately compound leaves (5-9 leaflets). Light weight silky-down seed pods are collected by fruit bats and scattered. Also known as Java cotton these silky-down seed heads are used for stuffing pillows, filling jackets or upholstering chairs and sofas. There is also an oil which is used for cooking and making soap. Seeds, leaves, bark and resin have been used to treat various forms of disease including dysentery and kidney disease. The trunks were dug-out and made into boats. They believed the kapok tree was sacred and the souls of the dead would climb up into the heavens.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

B: Bayon Temple Of The Gods!

North of Angkor Wat we have Angkor Thom which is said to be the city of Angkor complex. Angkor Thom was built on a  large almost square site with a high and wide stone wall around it. At one time it had a huge population of people.  Sadly the palace no longer exists.

The Bayon temple was built by King Jayavarman  V11 within the stone walls of Angkor Thom between the late 12th - 13th Century! Bayon has a large centre dome and four smaller towers. Each tower has a sculptured head with a facial expression of sadness.  The heads face north, south, east and west. Each one gazes out over the land of Angkor Thom.

There were fifty-one smaller towers, each individual tower has four small heads. Bayon is surrounded by a large stone wall which formed a defence support around the temple. Five entrances, provide access to the temple, each one with gates heralded by two large, three headed, stone elephants with long thick trunks down to the ground. The roadway up and over the moat to the main gate of Angkor Thom is guarded on one side by a serpent driven by the devil whilst on the other side the gods enter.

Throughout the temple bas-relief murals are accentuated over walls and pillars. Sculptured figurines of the apsaras and deity's decorate the inside of the dome, incorporating the mythical world and the Buddha religions. The historical fighting and domestic scenes are portrayed around the outside walls.
This temple was dedicated to the Buddhists.