Archive for Henri Mouhot

People: Henri Mouhot

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, People with tags , , , , , on January 4, 2014 by Thim Kwai

Travelling in the 19th century was by no means comparable to nowadays. There was for example almost no roadnet in the Siam/Thailand of the time. Even the capital Bangkok didn’t have a single decent road in 1858, only some dirt tracks along the many canals (klongs), who served as the main transport network.

Mouhot’s first trip then, after being introduced into the Western society in Bangkok and an invitation from king Mongkut of Siam, was a boattrip the Chao Phraya River upwards to visit the ruins of Siam’s former and legendary capital Ayutthaya. The worst thing he describes were the mosquitoes who were around in great amounts at day and night.

Ayutthaya was an easy starter for travelling inner Indochina, because it is close to Bangkok and was already known by Westerners. After coming back to Bangkok he prepared for a second journey along the coasts east of Bangkok, travelling via Chantaburi passing by Koh Kong on boat and entering the port of Kampot. I placed three quotations on the Kampot page where he described the place and met the king of Cambodia in an audience.

After visiting Kampot Mouhot travelled the land road to Phnom Penh and Udong, where he met the second king of Cambodia in another audience. Next he visited some mountain tribes somewhat riverupwards the Mekong River. In one of his letters to the Royal Geographical Society he describes the area as close to Laos and Vietnam. That sounds much for the area what is now Ratanakiri. He spent two month among the Stieng people, apparently one of the hill tribes, before he turned to Angkor. Mouhot spent only three weeks in Angkor and went on then via Battambang back to Bangkok.

Mouhot, Henri:
Travels in the central parts of Indochina,
London 1864
Volume I and II

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Henri Mouhot’. Read here the whole article on Henri Mouhot.

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Henri Mouhot’s records on Kampot

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Places with tags , , on December 29, 2013 by Thim Kwai

In 1859 the famous traveller Henri Mouhot arrived on boat in the port of Kampot. It was on his second journey coming from Bangkok via Chantaburi. He gave a description of the Kampot of his time in his publication. It is remarkable for it represents one of very few pieces of written information on Kampot around the mid 19th century.

At that time nowadays Kampot didn’t exist; the settlement Mouhot mentions was situated at the western banks of the Teuk Chhou River.

After arriving in Kampot, Mouhot saw the king of Cambodia on one of his ships on Kampot River (Teuk Chhou River). The king was accompanied by one of the famous pirates of the time. Mouhot described the circumstances as follows:

“Behind the king’s boat, in no apparent order, and at long intervals, followed those of several mandarins, who were not distinguished in any particular manner. One boat alone, manned by Chinese, and commanded by a fat man of the same nation, holding in his hand a halberd surmounted by a crescent, attracted my attention, as it headed the escort. This man was the famous Mun Suy, chief of the pirates, and a friend of the king. I was told that, two years before, he had been compelled, owing to some iniquities not very well known, to fly from Amoy, and had arrived at Komput with a hundred followers, adventurers and rovers of the sea like himself. After having remained there for some time, keeping the whole place in terror, and extorting by menaces all he could from the market people, he conceived the project of seizing upon and burning the town, and putting all the inhabitants to the sword, intending then to retreat with his spoils, if not strong enough to hold his ground. Fortunately the plot was discovered, and the Cambodians from the neighbourhood were armed and assembled in readiness to defend the place.
Mun Suy, not liking the aspect of affairs, embarked with his band in his junk, and fell suddenly on Itatais. The market was sacked in a minute; but the inhabitants, recovering from their surprise, repulsed the pirates and drove them back to their vessel with the loss of several men.
Mun Suy then returned to Komput, gained over by presents first the governor and afterwards the king himself, and ever since has carried on his piratical acts with impunity, making his name dreaded by all around. Loud complaints arose from the neighbouring countries, and the king, either overawed by the pirate, or for protection against the Annamites, appointed him commander of the coast-guard. Henceforth, therefore, he became a licensed robber, and murder and rapine increased to such a degree, that the King of Siam sent a naval expedition to Komput to capture the malefactor and his gang. Two only were taken and executed. As for their leader, he was hidden, they say, in the palace.”

Mouhot, Henri:
Travels in the central parts of Indochina,
London 1864
Volume I, p. 184-187

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Kampot / Cambodia’. Read here the whole article on Kampot.

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Angkor Wat – Monument of Superlatives

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Sights with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Doubtlessly the grand temple monument of Angkor Wat is the best known building and tourist attraction in Southeast Asia. For many Angkor Wat is synonym with Angkor; though, Angkor was a whole city and even more an empire and as such much, much bigger than Angkor Wat, what merely means ‘city temple’, ‘state temple’ or ‘temple of Angkor’.

There are about a hundred more major temples in the wider area around Angkor Wat. One of them is the Bayon, another and significant different temple which is situated in Angkor Thom.

Angkor Wat is a sight of superlatives. It’s the biggest religious monument in the world, the most visited sight in Southeast Asia, the best-preserved of the whole Angkor site, the most impressive monument for most of the visitors, the only religious site of whole Angkor which remained a significant religious center since it’s foundation until today, it represents the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture, it’s the symbol for Cambodia since 1863 and decorates the national flag of Cambodia, and maybe there is more to add…

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Angkor Wat’. Read here the whole article on Angkor Wat.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender