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Cambodia Kingdom

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia

You've trusted your eyes your whole life, but visit Cambodia and you just may start doubting them.

How else to explain the unthinkable splendour of the 9th- to 13th-century Khmer temples, the tropical islands with barely a beach hut in sight and the untold adventures lurking in northern forests?

Cambodia promises a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences to the intrepid traveller. Your heart will race at Angkor Wat, one of the world's greatest achievements, only to haltingly derail when faced with the impact of humankind's darkest moments.

After two decades of war and isolation, only now is Cambodia truly starting to recover from the Khmer Rouge's genocidal 1975-79 rule.

When To Go:

The ideal months to be in Cambodia are December and January, when humidity is bearable, temperatures are cooler and it's unlikely to rain.

From early February temperatures start to rise until the killer month, April, when temperatures often exceed 40°C (104°F). Come May and June, the southwestern monsoon brings rain and high humidity, cooking up a sweat for all but the hardiest of visitors.

The wet season (May-Oct), though very soggy, can be a good time to visit Angkor, as the moats will be full and the foliage lush - but steer clear of the northeast regions during those months, as the going gets pretty tough when the tracks are waterlogged.

The country's biggest festival, Bon Om Tuk, is held in early November, and is well worth catching. Others you might like to plan around include the water festival in Phnom Penh, or Khmer New Year.

Cambodia - Fast Facts:

Full Name: Kingdom of Cambodia
Capital City: Phnom Penh
Area: 181,040 sq km / 69,900 sq miles
Population: 14,000,000
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +7 ()
Languages: Khmer (official), English (other), French (other)
Religion: Buddhist, Animist, Cham Muslim, Christian
Currency: Riel (CR)
Electricity: 230V 50HzHz
Electric Plug Details: European plug with two circular metal pins; Japanese-style plug with two parallel flat blades
Country Dialing Code: 855

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Cambodia PM slammed for disowning lesbian daughter

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Women's rights campaigners in Cambodia lashed out at Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday for trying to disown his adopted daughter because she is a lesbian.

"You do not have to agree with her decision, but you have to respect her rights," said Theary Seng, executive director of the Center for Social Development in the war-scarred southeast Asian nation's capital.

Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge soldier, told a graduation ceremony this week he was "disappointed" that his 19-year-old daughter, whom he adopted in 1988, was a lesbian.

"I have my own problem -- my adopted daughter has a wife," he said. "Now I will ask the court to disown her from my family."

Hun Sen has been in charge of Cambodia for the last two decades and is not known for a liberal outlook to life or politics.

He and his wife, Bun Rany, have three sons and two daughters, and had kept the adoption of a third daughter a closely guarded secret. He did not reveal her name in his speech.

"I can educate people in the whole country, but I cannot educate my adopted daughter," he added. "We sent her to study in the U.S., but she did a bad job. She returned home and took a wife."

However, Hun Sen asked Cambodia's 13 million people to be more tolerant of homosexuals.

"I urge parents of gays not to discriminate against them, and do not call them transvestites," Hun Sen said.

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Cambodia's 'demoralised' ex-king celebrates quiet birthday

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A seemingly despondent Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia's former monarch, quietly passed his 85th birthday Wednesday amid muted public celebrations, the palace said.

Saying that Sihanouk was "very elderly, very weak, very demoralised," the palace said in a statement that the former king, once known for his vibrant public persona, was increasingly disturbed by "unnecessary" emails, telegrams and faxes from well-wishers.

In a separate statement, the palace pleaded with supporters "to not call on him, to not dispatch to him messages of greetings and congratulations, even on the occasion of his birthday."

Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh was decorated with only one large portrait of Sihanouk, who grandfatherly visage used to be commonplace throughout the city.

Palace officials said Wednesday he had marked his birthday with a low-key Buddhist ceremony, accompanied by family and monks.

Sihanouk, who suffers from a number of serious illnesses, including cancer, is expected to travel to China for medical check-ups during this year's Water Festival, one of the country's largest holidays which begins next month.

Sihanouk, one of Asia's longest-serving monarchs, abruptly quit the throne in October 2004 in favor of his elder son, Norodom Sihamoni, citing old age and health problems.

Despite giving up his role as king, he remains a popular figure, particularly among rural Cambodians.
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