July, 2008:  The 1053 AD Prasat Preah Vihear or Preah Vihear Temple has been designated a World Heritage Site.

  • Prasat Preah Vihear Construction began in 1037. Khmer Kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) & Suryavarman II (1113–1150).

  • Preah Vihear predates Angkor Wat by 100 years.

  • Preah Vihear is located on Chuor Phnum Dângrêk, the sandstone escarpment at the southern edge of the Dângrêk Range, AKA Issan's Korat Plateau ... Issan Road Map.


The 21st century border dispute between Thailand & Cambodia is rooted in French Colonial / French Indo-China expansion between 1867 & 1903.


British & French maps of the 1880s are similar .. both show Vientiane,  Angkor Wat, Prasat Ta Muen & Preah Vihear in Siam.

British Map of Indochina, 1882.



1886 French Map of  Colonial French Indochina

French Indochina was formed in October 1887 & is comprised of modern Vietnam (Annam, Tonkin, Cochin China), Cambodia & Laos

  • Thailand is the only SE Asian country to avoid Western imperial expansion / colonialism. 

  • Thailand fought wars against the imperialist expansion .. loosing in 1893 ... & winning the 1940-41 Franco-Thai War.

  • By signing the 1941 Tokyo Accord the French Colonialists agreed to return the borders to their pre colonial expansion locations.

  • The 1941 Tokyo Accord settled the 1940-41 war & returned to Thailand the land stolen by the French Colonialists in 1893 .. including Prasat Preah Vihear.. & Angkor!!!

In these photos, Thailand is to the left & Cambodia is to the right ..  with the temple on the Thai high ground.

  • The Temple is clearly on the Thai Dângrêk Range Korat Plateau's high ground.
  • The Preah Vihear temple faces to the north, toward Issan, Thailand.
  • The temple was obviously built to service the people of Thailand.

The only access to Preah Vihear Temple from Cambodia is by foot 1500' up .. climb by foot up the cliff

Thailand begins at the edge of the Dângrêk cliffs with Cambodia being 500 meters (1500') below.

Post WWII European (edict issuing colonialist all) courts over turned the bilateral signed & sealed agreements of the Franco-Thai War ending 1941 Tokyo Accord .. the European (edict issuing colonialist all) courts  ruled in favor of European Colonial unilateral edicts not negotiated signed & sealed bilateral agreements.


France expanded French Indochina into what is now Cambodia & Laos in 1887.  When France expanded it's colonial Asian empire into Siamese territory Siam resisted & the 1st Franco Siamese War of 1893 resulted.

  • Siam lost some territory to the French, namely Battambong, Siam Reap ( Angkor Wat ), Champasak and Lanchang.  But Siam remained free of total European Colonial domination.

  • In 1904 a bilateral French - Siamese Commission was formed to demarcate the mutual border between French Indochina & free Siam. This bilateral 1904 Commission determined, & the parties both agreed, that the high ground & Prassat Preah Vihear Temple to be in Thailand

  • 1907 an unilateral French Colonial 'water shed line' survey determined that Preah Vihear Temple was in French Indochina and French Indochina unilaterally altered the bilateral Commission's agreement of 1904.

  • In 1907 Siam physically occupied the Preah Vihear Temple land based on the 1904 Commission agreement.

  • Since Siamese occupied Preah Vihear's high ground they ignored and did not respond to the latest arrogant unilateral French Colonial edict.

Below is the actual 1907 French Colonial water shed survey map showing the Temple and elevations.  This survey shows the southern most edge of the Plateau to slope gently to the south .. rain water from the southern edge,1st several 100 meters, of the plateau falls 500m (1500') to the Cambodian plains below.

Wonder what modern GPS shows?

  • During the the Angkor Period of Khmer history (802-1431) the Khmer Empire ruled much of the Indochina Peninsula region now occupied by Cambodia, Laos & Thailand.

  •   .
  • Pre-Siam, Ayutthaya (1521-1767) fought the Khmer in 1532 over this region.

  • There were 2 wars (1893 & 1940) between Siam & colonial French Indochina over this area.  The French won the first & Thailand won the second.

Thailand recovered the all land stolen by French Indochina by winning the Franco-Thai war 1940-1941.

  • A second war between French Indochina & Thailand was fought & this time won by Thailand. 1940 - 1941.

  • The negotiated agreements of Tokyo Accord of 1941 ended the second Franco Thai War & returned to Thailand all the land stolen by French Indochina in the 1893 war. 

  • The land returned to Thailand by the Tokyo Accord included the Preah Vihear Temple land in addition to Battambong, Siam Reap ( Angkor Wat ), Champasak and Lanchang

  • Post WWII Europe & the US  chose to ignore the 1941 Tokyo Accord which settled the Franco Thai War, 1940 - 1941.

Road Map to Prasat Preah Vihear

In 1903 Colonial French Indochina unilaterally 'edict-ed' that because the southern edge of Chuor Phnum Dângrêk slopes gently to the south, thus rain water drains into Cambodia 1500' below, the temple was part of Imperial France.

  • By signing the 1941 Tokyo Accord ending the 1940-41 Franco Thai war Imperial France agreed to return the borders to their pre colonial expansion locations.

  • After WWII Dutch courts overturned the 1941 agreement .. at the time Holland had imperial colonies on 3 continents ruled by imperial edict .. DOH!

Editorial comment .. if you are the heir of a colonialist ill gained wealth you probably disagree with my take on morality

  • How many 21st century wars are being fought over Colonial / Imperial edicts.

  • From Vietnam west to the Atlantic the price of colonial policy / edict is still being paid.  "All areas"  of 21st century political unrest (except Wisconsin & Bangkok) were ruled by (dopey) colonial imperial edicts in the 20th century! (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt)  .. the price of imperialism seems to be endless.

  • Now is the time for 21st century courts to say enough is enough ..   ignore the dopey imperial edicts / borders.

  • Treat all nations of the planet fairly ..  LOL!  ...  might continues to make right.

  • Preah Vihear & the entire Korat (aka: Khorat) Plateau was in Siam prior to French Indochina colonial expansion in 1887 when a French colonial edict deemed it to be French

  • Thailand claims all the 'high ground' + Prasat Preah Vihear based on pre-existing sovereign borders & The Bilateral French Siamese Convention of 1904.

  • In 1907 Colonial French Indochina issued a unilateral colonial edict claiming the border to be the water shed line which includes several 100 meters of the Korat Plateau high ground.

  • Prasat Preah Vihear is only a small part of the border dispute.

  • July, 2008:Thai Newspaper  Reports of Thai Army Rangers at the border.  A Thai Army Ranger lost his leg to a Cambodian mine.

  • August, 2008.  A second border dispute has erupted over another temple on the border,  Prasat Ta Muen Thom in Thailand's Surin Province (west of Preah Vihear).

  • September 2008: More military face offs at Prasat Ta Muen.

  • April, 2009:  A Thai soldier lost a leg to a Cambodian land mine.  This resulted in two skirmishes involving small arms & mortars.  At least 4 more soldiers died.


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Prior to French Expansion of Colonial Indochina (1886) both Preah Vihear & Angkor Wat were both clearly in Siam.

LIFE Magazine, July, 1939. "Only the canny rule of King Chulalongkorn in the late 19th Century saved Siam from being swallowed by Britain and France like the rest of Southeast Asia and the Malay Peninsula."

The border between Thailand and Cambodia is currently ruled the "water Shed" line not the agreed upon border determined by the French-Siamese Commission of 1904 between Siam & Colonial French Indochina.

  • ... sections of the Thai plateau high ground (500 meters (1500') above the Cambodian jungle) do gently slope to the south toward Cambodia 500m below

  • All the water ends up in the Mekong River via Thailand's Mun River or through Angkor's Tonlé Sap Lake.

Tourist note:  the Mun River (aka Moon River) offers white water rafting & kayaking as it rushes down the Korat Plateau near Ubon.


Water shed imperialism was used globally by French Colonialists to "dissolve via water shed" sovereign nations.

  • Example: In 1682 the French explorer La Salle claimed the entire drainage / water shed of the Mississippi River for Colonial France.. from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
  • European Colonialists claim the water shed for god & the queen .. that's it  .. no discussion .. what arrogant irrational insanity!
  • Colonial European water shed edicts continue to be supported by European Courts in the 21st century.

In 1682 French Water Shed Imperialism claimed the entire Mississippi River water shed for France


Unfortunately for the French Colonialists, Siam was far more successful in resisting Imperialism than the Sioux, the Crow or the Cheyenne nations of the American plains.

  • The first independent Thai City State, Sukhothai or "Dawn of Happiness", was established in 1238 in North Central Thailand.
  • Ayutthaya, a Thai kingdom that existed from 1351 to 1767, and the Khmer Kingdom had disputes over this same territory dating to 1352. 
  • This part of Indochina was divided in several "city states" until Ayutthaya. Siam was formed after Ayutthaya was destroyed by the Mons (Burmese) in 1767. 
  • The Siamese capital was moved to Thon Buri across the Chao Praya River from today's Bangkok in 1767. Siam became Thailand in 1939.

Thailand History

.. 6000 years of contiguous cultural evolution.  Thailand is unique globally in that it was never subjected to European colonial hegemony.

LIFE Magazine July, 1939. "On June 24, 1939 the Government of Siam, the only free nation (= the only non-European colony) in Southeast Asia, changes its name to Thailand, which means 'Free Land' "

There are many ancient sites in Thailand .. the two Temples below are carved with elaborate images of Elephants.

Left: 13th century Wat Chedi at Sukhothai               Right: 13th century Wat Chang (elephant temple) near the Cambodian border

A day (or week!) on an Elephant Trek will provide technicolor memories of a life time

A surf Safari with boards portaged by elephants is a worthy adventure.  Note beautiful royal white elephant in the rear.

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