Siem Reap


 

The name Siem Reap means the 'Defeat of Siam' — today’s Thailand — and refers to a century-old bloodbath, commemorated in stone in the celebrated bas relief carvings of the monuments. The name has also been translated as 'The Brilliance of Siam', as, for nearly 500 years, before the massacre, it was one of the main border crossings from Ancient Cambodia into Siam.

 

In 1901 the École Française d'Extrême Orient (EFEO) began a long association with Angkor by funding an expedition into Siam to the Bayon. In 1907 Angkor, which had been taken from Siam (Thailand) by force, was assigned to Cambodia. The EFEO took responsibility for clearing and restoring the whole site. In the same year, the first tourists arrived in Angkor - an unprecedented 200 of them in three months. Angkor had been 'rescued' from the jungle and was assuming its place in the modern world.

 

Siem Reap was little more than a village when the first French explorers re-discovered Angkor in the 19th century. With the acquisition of Angkor by the French, in 1907, Siem Reap began to grow, absorbing the first wave of tourists. The Grand Hotel d'Angkor opened its doors in 1929 and the temples of Angkor remained one of Asia's leading draws until the late 1960s, luring visitors like Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Kennedy. In 1975, the population of Siem Reap, along with that of the rest of the cities and towns in Cambodia, was evacuated by the communist Khmer Rouge and driven into the countryside.

 

 

As with the rest of the country, Siem Reap's history (and the memories of its people) is coloured by spectre of the brutal Khmer Rouge Regime, though since Pol Pot's death in 1998, relative stability and a rejuvenated tourist industry have been important steps in an important, if tentative, journey forward to recovery. With the advent of war, Siem Reap entered a long slumber from which it only began to awake in the mid-1990s.

 

Today, Siem Reap is undoubtedly Cambodia's fastest growing city and serves as a small charming gateway town to the world famous heritage site of the Angkor temples. Thanks to those attractions, Siem Reap has transformed itself into a major tourist hub. Siem Reap nowadays is a vibrant town with modern hotels and architectures. Despite international influences, Siem Reap and its people have conserved much of the town's image, culture and traditions.

 

This history is extracted from http://en.wikipedia.org/


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