SIEM REAP (Khmer Times) – Researching Angkor’s complex underground irrigation system, the construction of a new tourist hospitality center, and the creation of a strategic plan to preserve the Kulen area were among the topics discussed at last week’s International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) Technical Session.
ICC-Angkor was founded in 1993 and gathers twice a year, with the support of Apsara National Authority (ANA) and Unesco, as a forum for architects, engineers, archaeologists and anthropologists to discuss the preservation and future development of the Angkor Archaeological Park.
“The problem of structural stabilization of Angkor monuments is no longer an issue as was a decade ago, while sustainable development of the site has become a great challenge for all concerned partners,” Unesco said in a statement.
Participants discussed the need for a concrete conservation plan for the Kulen Area, Siem Reap’s key water supply source, in addition to further research on the ancient underground irrigation system that helps the temples maintain their balance.
ANA’s deputy director-general in charge of water management, Hang Pov, pushed for further research on this underground waterway, which could aid reforestation projects, rehabilitate the Northern Baray and increase water supply to the park.
“The US Embassy was pleased once again to participate in ICC-Angkor,” said US Embassy Public Affairs Officer Jay Raman. “An area of particular interest was the use of LiDAR and other technologies to support the archaeological and conservation work that is taking place on the ground in places like Phnom Kulen.”
ANA’s plans for the construction of a tourist hospitality center were widely supported by ICC-Angkor. The tourist hospitality center will be built on two hectares of land in front of Angkor Wat. The project will include an information booth, souvenir shop, food court and rest area. The entire project will cost $10 million.
Restoration and Relocation
From June 1-3, experts visited ongoing conservation and restoration projects at Angkor Wat, Bantey Srei, Ta Prohm, Takeo and Phnom Bakheng temples, as well as the West Baray.
At the opening session on the 4th, Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the ANA, noted his anxiety over ISIS’ desecration of monuments, statues and other historical monuments in Syria and Iraq.
Mr. An also mentioned that ANA is focusing on a revised training program for park security officers and tourist police.
The ANA is also continuing work on a project to relocate some of the 125,000 Cambodians that live in the Angkor park to an eco-village outside the park on a thousand-hectare plot at Run Ta Ek.
Angkor Wat in the News
Trip Advisor named Angkor Wat as the winner of the 2015 Travelers’ Choice Landmark awards last week. Winners were determined with the help of an algorithm that considered the quantity and quality of the comments on monuments, like second-place winner Machu Picchu, over a period of 12 months.
Like Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat is struggling with the increasingly popular “Naked at Monuments” photo-shoot trend.
On the 4th and 5th of June, the committee reviewed a “Visitor Code of Conduct” that ANA implemented last week in an attempt to curb inappropriate behavior like nudity, smoking, and touching or climbing temple ruins.
Over the weekend, Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry sent a letter of protest to the Indian government after learning that construction of a replica of Ankgor Wat was going forward in the Indian state of Bikar.
If completed, the Indian temple would replace Angkor Wat as the largest Hindu temple in the world.