Thai temple ปราสาทเขาพระวิหาร conflict escalates – now affecting Ubon Ratchathani

A lot of you might have already heard about a conflict currently going on between Thai and Cambodian troops on their borders. It is a dispute that has been going on for a long time and has really heated up over the last few years which has resulted in the beautiful temple complex known as Prasat Khao Phra Viharn ปราสาทเขาพระวิหาร being closed for the last three years.

It’s very disappointing as it is a magnificent place to visit. I am not a temple tourist at all but this place is something else due to it’s location on a cliff that is 525 metres high offering an amazing view over the plains of Cambodia.

Three and a half years ago my cousin Frances was visiting so It was a good excuse to visit Prasat Khao Phra Viharn for the first time. Here are a few photos of that visit.

Since the temple was closed to visitors not long after we visited I have kept a keen eye on proceedings as I would love to get back there again. There has been the occasional skirmish resulting in small losses of life from both sides but in the last few days things have taken a turn for the worst. Deaths and casualties have been a lot higher and the rhetoric coming from both governments gives real cause for concern.

We arrived in Ubon last night and Seerung called her sister to find out if there was any truth in the rumours of bombs landed away from the conflict area and into Ubon Ratchathani province. Unfortunately they were true as my sister in law talked about a very long night with no sleep listening to the sounds of shells coming increasingly closer to the village. She said that no one slept all night and everyone has packed their bags awaiting word from the government if told to evacuate. Not to far away entire villages have done just that. Schools and government offices are closed and up to 15,000 people are staying in three different evacuation shelters. The Chong Jom border crossing is closed and Samrong district in Ubon has been evacuated.

The actual temple is 45kms away from our village and the conflict has never caused any concern in the pat. This time however shells appear to be falling a long way away from the temple which is quite worrying.

We are due to stay in Ubon for three nights before the girls head to the village and I go to Laos. We will obviously be monitoring the situation and will change our plans if need be.

I am not going to get into the debate as to who owns the disputed territory or if ouster prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has anything to do with it as I am here on holiday and hope to enjoy myself! If anyone fills inclined to give your thoughts then please do so in the comments section as I would love to learn some more about the history of this place.

As I said earlier, we arrived last night after a long but very easy journey. I will blog and upload photos about the trip shortly.

21 responses to “Thai temple ปราสาทเขาพระวิหาร conflict escalates – now affecting Ubon Ratchathani

  1. Hey Andrew and Family —

    Happy to know you’re in Ubon!!!! Thanks for your comments and insights into the conflict and the affected areas and the temple. I hope to visit there someday when peace reigns!

    Welcome back, mate!

    Cheerio — Carla

    • Hi Carla,

      Lets hope that they don’t destroy it before you manage to have a look. Such a real possibility which if it wasn’t so serious would be quite funny.

  2. Hi Andrew
    Nice to see you blogging again about all things Ubon. Stay well and all the best to the family and yourself.

  3. Glad to hear you guys are ok

    my wife’s family is north of Ubon city so we dont hear much and my wife refuses talk about it so thanks for the blog and the update.


    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for saying hi. Why do you think your wife doesn’t want to talk about it? Too blasé or angry? Interesting here in ubon at the moment most people seem to be making light of the situation.

  4. Hi Andrew,

    Welcome back to ubon to you and your family,

    Thanks for the pics and info. Yeah, I have wondered about this site for quite a while and ‘wonder’ what the ‘real’ issue is. I believe (as my memory isn’t as ‘crispy on recall’ as I once enjoyed – but this has been goin on for MANY years. The connections you mentioned before may have some bearing on the more recent unrest, but what a bout the previous situation? Listening to a couple of Thai (government workers) gentlemen in Ubon today and the feeling (Noi informed me about) is that the Cambodians are ‘taking advantage of the “generosity” of Thailand’s flexibility by building homes on “thai soil”‘. I figured they weren’t all that pleased with this situation. Is the the ‘facts’? I don’t know but it is becoming quite a boiling pot there. It would be good for both parties to find a ‘clean’ and reasonable solution to this [increasingly dangerous] situation.

    Relax more than blogging lol; but I guess you’ll need something for that dynamic mind [of yours] to keep it occupied? lol Cheers mate!

    • Hi Terry,

      Dynamic mind? Haha, first and only time I think I will ever be accused of having one of them! Yes this thing has been going on for years that’s for sure. From what I have read the more modern history of this site dates back to 1954 when the Thais occupied the temple as a result of the French leaving Cambodia. The Cambodians complained to the International Court of justice and asked them to rule on it. They found in favour of Cambodia but the Thai government refused to accept the decision. The decision was found in favour of Cambodia due simply to a map that was completed in 1907 jointly by Siam and French officials. The border was meant to follow the watershed line of the Dangrek mountain range and did so apart from the small part around the temple. I am a bit confused as to why Siam agreed to having the map ratified? Anyway they did and by doing so they lost all claim to it in the eyes of the International Court. In 1963 they changed their minds and gave it back to the Cambodians. They obviously have not changed their hearts though.

  5. PS Sorry about the type ‘O’s ~ time for a new keyboard (sometiem ago actually); well, okay, it’s me also! lol Up to you if you reply, I acknowledge you are here to relax lol

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  7. A Thai teacher came into work and I was watching CNN news, she then put the Thai news on to see the reports on this conflict. (She did ask but already had the remote in her hand)

    When she said that Cambodia was bad, and what I thought, she got a nice jaw dropping response.
    Thailand and Camodia need to grow up, and they are both stupid killing each other over this small area of land.
    When I brought up the 1962 court ruling she had no idea about this.
    If you go to the International Court site here you can read all about the case (some in French though so lucky I am fluent) and is very interesting reading from the applications, proceedings, merits, and press releases from way back then.
    She was offended for sure that I called Thailand stupid and also being bullies, and I also said about Thai politics being a circus and a laughing stock of the outside world.
    The good part is she has not been back in teh ofice or when I see her she ignores me.

    • Brunty, I am going to let your comment about being fluent in French go through to the keeper but everything else you wrote is great reading. I asked the same question to a Thai today and all he could respond with was ‘we all need to show love’. I gave up after three attempts.

  8. Hi Andrew,’
    Stay safe over there as we would love for you all to make it back to Australia one day. I visited a temple similar to this in 1999 but it was about 10-30km north of the Thai border. I think it is about 50-100 km to the north west of this temple site. I was wondering if part of the reason for the fight over the temple land has to do with the high ground that the temple is located on. what do you think of that theory?
    Chat soon cous………Simon Mock

    • G’day Simmo – great to hear from you!
      This temple you mention, was it in Laos? In regards to the high ground theory, I doubt it very much. There is plenty of other higher ground around that the Thais have control of. I believe this is more symbolic of the current political problems facing Thailand right now. It is also a significant historic site and was granted world heritage status 3 years ago so there is prestige as well as money involved also. Well that’s my thoughts anyway! great to hear from you mate – hope the family is going well.

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  11. You are being a bit of a Geoffrey Boycott letting it go through o the keeper. I thought you had heard me speaking French on many occasions.

    The Thais I have asked about this cannot explain why they are fighting other than it is our land not thiers.

    The politicians need to be scull dragged behind a car from Bangkok to the temple site.

    • I have heard a lot of French coming out of your mouth every time I beat you at basketball but that is about it!

      Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd was having breakfast at the table next to me this morning. I should have called you so you could come around and discuss you feelings about the matter!

  12. Oh I would have loved that and I would have said that they are childish fools, would have gone down sideways for sure. I am currently composing a blog that is sure to ingite some fires but might not be ready till late next week as have a lot to research and also google translator is shit…

    I am past the point of caring if I make some Thai Hi So or politician pissed off. The truth needs to be expressed. Well my point of view.

    Missed your call today I tried to call you back but got the “sorry the number you have called…..”

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