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About Siem Reap

The name Siem Reap means the 'Flat Defeat of Siam' — today’s Thailand — and refers to the centuries-old conflict between the Siamese and Khmer peoples. This name, according to an oral tradition, was baptized by King Ang Chan (1516-1566) as “Siem Reap”, meaning “the flat defeat of Siam” (Cambodians call Siam or Thailand “Siem”). It was because of the victory over the Thais which King Ang Chan counter-attacked, and shot Prince Ong dead on an elephant’s back, and routed the Thais and captured no less than 10,000 Thai troops.

The history was told that King Ang Chan of Cambodia tried to assert further independence against Thailand. The Thais also had been through internal trouble themselves during these years. King Chairacha was poisoned by his concubine, Lady Sri Sudachan, who committed adultery with a commoner, Worawongsathirat, while he was on the campaign against Chiang Mai. The Queen then raised Worawongsathirat to the throne. The nobles hated Worawongsathirat and lured the usurper and his family to a place outside the city where he was assassinated together with Lady Sri Sudachan and a new-born daughter during the royal family's procession by barge to see a white elephant (allegedly just captured). The nobles then invited Prince Thianracha, who was a monk in a monastery, to disrobe and ascend the throne under the title of King Maha Chakkraphat (1548-1569). Being informed of the internal troubles in Ayutthaya, King Ang Chan attacked Prachin Buri in 1549 and successfully took away Thai inhabitants. At Prachin, he obtained information that King Maha Chakkraphat had become the new king of Ayutthaya, signaling that the question of succession in Ayutthaya had thus become settled. King Ang Chan therefore retreated and did not advance any further. King Maha Chakkraphat was very angry at this, but his hands were tied, because the Burmese had just come by the way of the Three Pagoda Pass, took Kanchanaburi and Suphanburi, and appeared in front of Ayutthaya.

Cambodian history presents the reason for the next Thai attack because King Ang Chan refused to give King Maha Chakkraphat a white elephant when he asked for it, it is indicated that King Ang Chan declined any symbol of vassalage to Thailand. King Maha Chakkraphat's attention was now turned towards Cambodia. He put Prince Ong, the Governor of Sawankhalok and Srey’s son, in charge of an expedition against Cambodia. King Ang Chan counter-attacked, and shot Prince Ong dead on an elephant’s back, and routed the Thais and captured no less than 10,000 Thai troops. It was because of this victory over the Thais that King Ang Chan baptized that battle area as “Siem Reap” meaning “the flate defeat of Siam”. However most of sources mentioned the final defeat of Angkor Kingdom by the Thais from Ayutthaya in the fifteenth century. The city was abandoned since then. From the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, the feuds among the Cambodian lords caused the interventions and domination from the more powerful neighbors, Vietnam and Siam. Siem Reap, along with Battambang and Sisophon, major cities in the north western part of Cambodia, were under Siamese rule from time to time until the French rule. More details on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siem_Reap


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