The Duke of Gloucester’s visit to Siem Reap on Sunday and Monday was a right royal occasion for the town, with a sizeable crowd turning up at a reception on Sunday evening at Hotel de la Paix.
But the accommodation honours went to Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, which played host to the royal personage.
After the reception on Sunday, Raffles also hosted a private dinner for the Duke, organised by the Global Heritage Fund.
This was attended by the Duke; His Excellency Andrew Mace, the British Ambassador; James Hooper, manager of Global Heritage Fund UK and International Project Development; Robert Hauck, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor general manager; and a few other invitees.
Ms Sirima (Burd) Rojprasitporn, the assistant director of sales at Raffles, told 7Days, “The dinner was exclusively arranged at our Uma Villa with a personalised menu created by our executive chef according to the Duke’s preference.”
On Monday the Duke toured Angkor.
The little known 10th-century Phimeanakas temple complex at Angkor is having its moment in the limelight following the discovery by a Cambodian and French archaeology team of an underground convergence of three large walls from markedly different eras.
This apparently is a significant archaeological find and more details will soon emerge.
Interestingly, a tower on top of a pyramid in the complex carried a fascinating legend. According to The Customs of Cambodia, an account written by the Chinese diplomat Zhou Daguan who arrived at Angkor in August 1296, the resident king is said to have spent the first watch of every night with a woman thought to represent a naga in the tower.
If the naga did not show up for a night, the king’s days were numbered, and if the king did not show up, calamity would strike his land.
Last week I incorrectly reported that a performance of Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute was being planned to take place in one of the Angkor temples in 2012.
However, the production in question is not the Khmer Arts-produced Cambodia-centric retelling of Mozart’s Magic Flute.
The original Mozart version itself will be staged, produced by Amrita Performing Arts.
The staging of Mozart’s opera against an Angkor temple background is sure to be a cultural milestone and should attract scores of classical music lovers and culture vultures.