Archive for October, 2012

Peforming Arts in the Spotlight

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

A much-needed shot in the arm for Cambodia’s traditional performing arts begins tomorrow in Phnom Penh with the Plae Pakaa season of shows.

The Children of Bassac

The Children of Bassac

Tomorrow evening from 7pm (Thursday 1 November) is the opening night of the eagerly-awaited Cambodia Living Arts brand new season of traditional arts performances which they are calling Plae Pakaa (‘Fruitful’). This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a series of traditional shows by the cream of Cambodia’s young performers, six nights a week except for Sunday, at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. The shows will alternate: Children of Bassac folk and classical dance show on Monday and Thursday, Tuesday and Friday will see artists perform Yike or Cambodian opera and there will be Passage of Life theatre on Wednesday and Saturday. At US$10 for a ticket, it’s an excellent value experience and will run through the tourist high season, offering all visitors the chance to see sixty of the country’s best emerging talents demonstrate their abilities on stage. We recommend you get along to the National Museum and sample the Plae Pakaa offerings.

Luxury at Apsara Rive Droite

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Running along the bank of the Nam Khan River, the Apsara Rive Droite is a luxurious refuge with tropical gardens and a refreshing pool, overlooking the river and Luang Prabang in Laos. Hanuman Travel TV drops by to take a look.

 

Glam, gorgeous and groovy. Situated on a flower-filled lane, running along the right bank of the Nam Khan River, the Apsara Rive Droite has nine huge, glamorous rooms, all with their own veranda or terrace, overlooking Luang Prabang. Connected to the centre by boat, it’s easy to get into the heart of town.

Hanuman’s own view: “The Apsara has expanded into uncharted territory with the Rive Droite and this is great news for would-be guests. The rooms are superbly finished with tasteful furnishings, including silks sourced from renowned Jim Thompson in Bangkok. The swimming pool is an attractive feature and the place feels a world away from rest of the crowd. But in fact it is just a short boat ride across the river.”

Khmer Arts Aim for New York

Monday, October 29th, 2012
Khmer Arts Ensemble

Khmer Arts Ensemble

New York to showcase Cambodia’s finest.

In recent years, Cambodia’s artistic community has slowly been rebuilding itself, and this coming spring in New York, the city will come alive with the Season of Cambodia Festival. Between 6 April through to 31 May, 2013, a gathering of more than 125 artists, performers and scholars will present Cambodian film, dance, visual art, shadow puppetry and more at venues all around the city, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Asia Society and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The celebration is being hosted by Cambodian Living Arts, a nonprofit group founded in 1998 by Arn Chorn-Pond, who survived Cambodia’s terrible past as a child and eventually came to the United States. “When I first returned to Cambodia in the ’90s after the Paris peace accord, my friends and I were finding master teachers living on the streets – poor, weak, without food and basic health care,” said Chorn-Pond, whose work in rescuing these artists was detailed in the PBS documentary, The Flute Player. The festival’s full programme will be announced soon, though we are told one group of performers from the Khmer Arts Ensemble, based near Phnom Penh, will be making the trip to showcase their work. Find out more about the Festival at http://seasonofcambodia.org/

Spectacular Beng Mealea

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Beng Mealea remains one of the most mysterious and spectacular temples at Angkor. Hanuman Travel TV paid a visit to give you a glimpse of what to expect.

The lost temple of Beng Mealea is the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins. Here it is possible to enjoy an Indiana Jones experience clambering about the vast ruin. For those who want a more gentle adventure, there is also a sturdy wooden walkway running right into the heart of the temple. The temple is a special place and it is worth taking the time to explore it thoroughly – Apsara caretakers or your own guide can show where rock-hopping and climbing is permitted. The wooden walkway was originally constructed for the filming of Two Brothers (2004), set in 1930s French Indochina and starring two tiger cubs The filming included 20 tigers of all ages for continuity throughout the filmed story. Beng Mealea temple is nearly 70kms, an hour by car, from Siem Reap. Make sure you include it in your itinerary at Angkor.

2013 Holidays in Cambodia

Friday, October 26th, 2012

The Cambodia public holidays and festivals for 2013 have just been confirmed by the Ministry of Tourism. They are as follows:

Festivals & Public Holidays in Cambodia 2013
International New Years Day
January 1
Victory over Genocide Day
January 7
International Women’s Day
March 8
Khmer New Year
April 13-15
International Labor Day
May 1
King Sihamoni’s Birthday
May 13-15
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
May 28
Queen Mother’s Birthday
June 18
Constitutional Day
September 24
Pchum Ben (3 days)
October 2-5
King Norodom Sihanouk Anniversary
October 15
King Sihamoni Coronation Day
October 29
Independence Day
November 9
Water Festival (3 days) November 16-18
International Human Rights Day
December 10

Circus time in Phnom Penh

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Hanuman Travel TV captured the Sokha circus show that will be performed at the Beeline Arena this coming Saturday in Phnom Penh. Another great opportunity to see this uniquely Cambodian circus performance.

 

The next Phare Ponleu Selpak monthly circus show in Phnom Penh is just two days away. Battambang’s finest circus troupe will be winging their way to the capital to perform at the Beeline Arena on Saturday 26 October and will introduce their latest offering, Sokha, to the audience. The story behind the performance is that Sokha is a war child who is haunted by visions of the atrocities carried out during Cambodian Civil War and the destruction after the Khmer Rouge regime. This is the tale of Sokha’s journey where memories and the surreal intertwine with myths and facts. It’s guaranteed to thrill the audience with the multi-faceted brand of circus magic that Phare Ponleu Selpak bring to each show. It starts at 6pm and the tickets are priced at just $3.50 each.

Royal heritage at your fingertips

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

If you are seeking somewhere unique in beautiful Luang Prabang, the jewel of languid Laos, then look no further than the Royal heritage residence of Xiengthong Palace. Hanuman Travel TV brings you inside for a visit.

 

From Xiengthong Palace themselves: “The last residence of the Royalty of Laos, the Xiengthong Palace is now a unique hotel is located in the most tranquil area of Luang Prabang. Set besides the most revered Buddhist monastery Wat Xiengthong and facing the Great Mekong River, our hotel is the ideal choice for the intelligent traveller who deserves  ‘luxury amidst tranquility’.”

Hanuman’s view of this lovely property: “An attractive addition to the selection of boutique hotels in Luang Prabang, the Xiengthong Palace is set in a beautiful collection of restored royal residences in a prime location on the Mekong River. Our favourite rooms are the Deluxe and the Mekong Suites, but all are stylishly presented. The restaurant offers terrace tables with A Mekong view, as do the front facing rooms in the Ayu Spa. Tasteful indeed.”

My Country, My King

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Executive Director Kulikar Sotho reflects on the importance of King Norodom Sihanouk to the Cambodian people.

Tan Sotho showing King Norodom Sihanouk around the Ministry of Tourism

Known to many as the last of the God Kings, in reality I always believed King Sihanouk was a man of the people at heart. Stories I was told from his early days as a leader are the stuff of legend, stories that told of him sneaking out of the palace in disguise as a simple citizen to check the pulse among the population. For King Sihanouk, his country and his people was more than duty, it was a passion and that is why so many Cambodians like me revered him, even in his twilight years.

My king was the international face of Cambodia for more than half a century. His political fortunes may have risen and fallen, but he was always our symbol of the nation, even in the darkest days of Democratic Kampuchea. If the temples of Angkor represent the spirit and soul of Cambodia in stone, then our king Sihanouk was the human representation of this spirit and soul. He was a link to the glorious past of the Kingdom of Cambodia, a time when Angkor was the Rome of Southeast Asia and spread its civilization throughout the region.

King Sihanouk was a Titan, a political giant from a bygone era of Cold War politics who tried his best to remain neutral in a polarized world. His big personality helped a small country like Cambodia punch above its weight for a time as he rubbed shoulders with powerful world leaders from the non-aligned movement. There were dark and terrible years in his life, many that he would rather forget. However, when he returned to Cambodia in 1991, he helped the Cambodian people and his country along the road to recovery. This was the first time I saw the king in person and the era when my Mother showed him around the Ministry of Tourism on his return to his beloved kingdom.

Civil war, genocide, occupation, by 1990 Cambodia had lost its way, lost its spirit and its soul. While I was growing up, there was no sense of Khmer identity, no culture, no belief and he helped to return these elements to me and my people. He restored a sense of national pride that was lost to the madness of war and destruction. To Cambodians young and old, he was a symbol of hope amid the despair and despite his lack of power, he was able to act as a moral beacon for our recovering society, leading by example.

While I mourn his passing, I swear on his spirit and soul that I will continue his traditions and uphold his values, to help promote national pride and a Cambodian identity on his behalf. This is a real challenge in the modern world of globalization, but as Cambodians we have much to be proud of. Historians may judge him differently due to the complexities of his personality and the complications of his reign, but in the end he did what he did in the interests of Cambodia and the Cambodian people.

He was my king. He made me proud to be Cambodian. May he rest in peace.

The new Hanuman Travel Collection 2013/14

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The latest Hanuman Travel Collection 2013/14 is back from the printer and we have uploaded it live to the Hanuman website at www. hanuman.travel.

The Hanuman Travel Collection 2013/14 is now available for browsing, including Inspirational Holidays, Authentic Journeys, Original Adventures and Unique Experiences. The collection features our recommended hotels and cruises around the region, as well as themed trips to help your journey planning.

Myanmar is new for 2013/14, including 10 pages of inspirational advice on planning trips to this enigmatic destination. As well as our recommended destinations and journey planner, we also showcase our signature unique experiences and some responsible tourism initiatives.  Stand out hotels include the historic Strand in Yangon, the Rupar Mandalar Hotel in Mandalay and the Amara Ocean Resort in Ngapali. We also feature two of the most popular cruises, Ayravata Cruise and the Road to Mandalay under our Cruising section.

Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Introducing Myanmar

“Myanmar is one of the most desirable destinations on the planet in this day and age, now that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has invited travellers to visit once again and the government continues to surpise observers with its reform programme. The shimmering spire of Shwedagon Paya is a symbol of the nation, but this enigmatic country is home to the incredible temples of Bagan, the crumbling ancient capitals around Mandalay and the stunning natural beauty of Inle Lake. Further afield lie unspoilt beaches, charming colonial relics and unique local cultures. Quite simply, as Kipling once said, “Burma is quite unlike any place you know about”.

To view the brochure online, please visit http://www.hanuman.travel/pdf/HNM-brochure-2012-13Edition.pdf

 

Sharing Experiences

Saturday, October 20th, 2012
Tour Guide Workshop attendees

Tour Guide Workshop attendees

Hanuman look ahead to the high season with their tour guide workshop.

The latest Siem Reap-Angkor Tour Guide Workshop took place recently with 20 tour guides in attendance. There was a mix of older faces and newer faces in attendance. There were a couple of veteran guides who have been guiding for more than 15 years but have never attended a Hanuman Tour Guide Workshop and there were some younger guides who have been with Hanuman for about 5 years and have already attended several workshops. The workshop was conducted by Nick Ray and Andy Brouwer with contributions from General Manager Jill Young, who was able to bring her tour leading experience to bear on some of the practical breakout sessions. After an introductory session, the guides broke into smaller groups to discuss what makes a good tour guide and, more importantly, what makes a great tour guide. The emphasis for the day was on sharing and learning and a lot of useful points came up during the session. Other morning sessions included Understanding the Client or Reading the Visitor and this included some background on different types of visitors and some light-hearted exchanges on national characteristics. We wrapped up the morning with a look at the Itinerary and acceptable/unacceptable changes to a client’s touring programme.

After a tasty traditional Khmer lunch with all the guides, we moved on to Communication and Information in the afternoon, covering areas such as introductory briefings, talks and answering questions. The afternoon continued with a detailed briefing on Responsible Tourism and its various forms such as ecotourism, community-based tourism and pro-poor tourism and then a practical session on responsible guiding. After looking at Adventure Tourism and Activities, we then moved on to the final session of problem solving and trouble-shooting. Breaking down into smaller groups once again, we shared problem situations, problem clients and possible solutions. Winding up the day, we offered drinks and canapés to all the attending guides and reflected on the day. Guides were very positive about the workshop and felt it was very useful for developing their skills and presentation in the run-up to high season.