Archive for January, 2013

The King Father’s Procession

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
The route of the cremation procession through Phnom Penh

The route of the cremation procession through Phnom Penh

Tomorrow, much of Phnom Penh will come to a standstill with the Cremation Procession of the former Cambodian King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

With immense crowds expected in Phnom Penh over the next few days, it’s been confirmed that the Royal Palace will be closed for the whole week of national mourning from 1-7 February. This was announced yesterday. Tomorrow (Saturday) the King Father’s coffin will be removed from the Royal Palace, along Sisowath Quay and paraded around Wat Phnom, south down Norodom Boulevard, around Independence Monument and then along Sothearos Boulevard, coming to rest at the purpose-built crematorium very close to the National Museum & Royal Palace, with the cremation itself taking place on Monday 4 February. Large video screens dotted around the city will beam events live including the cremation. Wat Phnom will be closed on 1 February. The National Museum is confirmed closed on 1 and 4 February but access outside those days will be restricted because of road closures and the large crowds expected in the city, so visiting the Museum may be difficult during this period of time. The same goes for restaurants in the vicinity. The Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC on the riverfront) have told us they will close their doors on 1 and 4 Feb. Friends the Restaurant and Romdeng will close between 2-4 Feb. Access to hotels in the area around the riverside will be possible only on foot. Other closures include the Cambodian Living Arts shows at the National Museum in Phnom Penh as well as Sovanna Phum. Meanwhile, the Khmer Rouge-linked sites at S-21/Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek will remain open.

Hanuman at the ATF 2013 in Vientiane, Laos

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Hanuman was an exhibitor at the recent Asean Tourism Forum 2013 in Vientiane, Laos, with its own stand in the Cambodia section of the event.

Hanuman at the ATF in Vientiane, Laos

 

Held over three days at the ITECC (International Trade Exhibition and Convention Center) in Vientiane, the ATF attracted around 500 buyers from every corner of the globe. There were large numbers of buyers from the English-speaking markets of Australia, the UK and the US, as well as impressive showing from Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe. There was also a large contingent of Indian buyers, as well as plenty of tour operators from the Southeast Asia region.

Among the exhibitors, the regional tourism powerhouses of Malaysia and Thailand had the largest number of booths, with Indonesia close behind. The Philippines was also well-represented, as was Singapore. Laos made a great effort on home soil, with a large number of DMCs and hoteliers exhibiting, arranged around the Lao National Tourism Authority ornate central stand. The Cambodia section included an attractive replica of a Banteay Srei tower and several of the leading local hoteliers. Hanuman was one of the very few DMCs represented in Cambodia and enjoyed plenty of positive feedback on the stand decoration as representing the best of the kingdom.

Many thanks to the Lao hosts for their hospitality and organisation during the event. All the best to Malaysia for 2014.

 

Featured Tour: Hanoi to Luang Prabang Overland

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Following on from a busy ATF in Vientiane last week, the Hanuman team was inspired to pick this 15-day overland trip through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of mainland Southeast Asia as the tour of the month.

Where the Mekong River meets the Nam Ou

Where the Mekong River meets the Nam Ou

One of Hanuman’s more adventurous itineraries, this trip offers an intriguing overland journey from Hanoi to Luang Prabang via some remote and beautiful regions. Starting out in historic Hanoi, we explore the lively Old Quarter of the city and some of the city’s most famous sights. We travel to majestic Halong Bay to experience a night aboard a traditional junk, perfect to soak up the stunning scenery. From here, we swing west into the striking mountain landscapes around Mai Chau, our base for some trekking amid the ricefields and villages of the White Thai minority. We then cross the mountainous border with Laos to explore the infamous Vieng Xai Caves, which served as a secret base for the Pathet Lao leadership during the war. Our journey continues through some remote parts of Laos to the enigmatic Plain of Jars. The culmination of this adventurous trip is the charming World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, an atmospheric town of ancient wats and designer shops.

For more details on this off-the-beaten-track itinerary, see: http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Indochina/Vietnam_Laos_Revealed.html

Cambodia Prepares

Sunday, January 27th, 2013
Monks at a Royal Palace Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Kampuchea Party Republic.

Monks at a Royal Palace Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Kampuchea Party Republic.

Cambodia prepares itself for the King Father’s cremation.

The cremation of King Father Norodom Sihanouk is just a few days away and the country is preparing itself for what most likely will be an extraordinary outpouring of emotion from the Cambodian people. The King Father’s body will be taken from the Royal Palace on 1 February and along a 6km processional route to its resting place in front of the National Museum. The cremation ceremony will take place at a specially-built site on 4 February, when more than 1.5 million people are expected to descend on the capital. Yesterday evening, more than 20,000 monks joined the King and Queen Mother in a ceremony to mark 100 days since the King Father died in Beijing on 15 October. A week of mourning has been declared from 1 February and businesses along the processional route have been ordered to close. The Royal Palace will be closed on 1 and 4 February with access to the area, including the National Museum, very heavily restricted.

Come and Experience Khmer New Year

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

For a unique opportunity to experience the tradition and ceremony that encompasses Khmer New Year, join Hanuman this April in Cambodia.

Celebrating Khmer New Year

Celebrating Khmer New Year

Chaul Chnam Thmey, or Cambodian New Year, takes place over a three-day period every April, celebrating the end of the harvesting season, when farmers enjoy the fruits of their labor before the rainy season begins. Families gather at their local pagoda, offer homage to Buddha’s teachings and their ancestors, wash themselves and their elders in holy water and contribute to the less fortunate. They play a wealth of traditional games such as Chol Chhoung, enjoy dancing and prepare special tasty dishes such as Kralan.

With one of Hanuman’s Khmer New Year Special Tours, you will get to experience all of this first-hand including a traditional meal in the home of a Khmer family, whilst enjoying the surroundings of the magnificent Angkor temples in Siem Reap. We have four special tours to choose from. A five-day visit to Siem Reap, or a 7-day tour that begins in Phnom Penh. Our 10-day journey takes in both locations as well as a chance to relax on the beaches of Sihanoukville, whilst our 14-day tour incorporates a visit to the remote northeast province of Mondulkiri.

You can find out more about our Khmer New Year Special Tours by visiting our website http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Cambodia/Khmer_New-Year.html or by contacting our Sales team. We have kept prices low by forging special arrangements with hotels in each location and hope that you will join us to celebrate the Khmer New Year in April 2013.

Life on a tightrope

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
The Phare Cambodian Circus is coming to Siem Reap

The Phare Cambodian Circus is coming to Siem Reap

New shows in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh for visitors and locals alike to enjoy.

Great news for all visitors to Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor temples in Cambodia. The Circus is coming to town. The exciting performers from the Phare Ponleu Selpak organization in Battambang are bringing their expertise to Siem Reap and will be putting on a daily, hour-long circus show from 8 February onwards. They will be known as Phare, the Cambodian Circus and will be located on Komay Road, behind the Angkor National Museum, and in front of Angkor Century Resort. The revival of the arts has moved on apace in Battambang and the success of PPS has brought about this extension into Siem Reap, on a permanent basis. PPS also put on a monthly one-off show at the Beeline Arena in Phnom Penh.

The dynamic and original show that will kick-off the new Siem Reap circus is Putho! – a mix of acrobatic, juggling, balancing, tight rope walking and contortion accompanied by traditional music. The show starts at 7pm each evening and the venue can accommodate 300 people, initially outdoors but with funding, they expect to build a Big Top soon enough. This is exciting news and a real alternative for guests to enjoy whilst in Temple Town.

Meanwhile, in Phnom Penh, the Apsara Arts Association are also starting up a regular, two-nights per week performance schedule at their Tuol Kork headquarters on St 598. The new dance and music show, Yak Sva (Giant Monkey), which will be performed every Friday and Saturday starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at $10 per person and the show will include 50 artists aged between 15-25 and performing a series of classical and folk dances to music. Add this to the 6-nights a week shows from Cambodian Living Arts at the National Museum and there’s a definite upsurge in the performing arts genre within Cambodia at this moment in time.

Hanuman at the ATF 2013 in Vientiane, Laos

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

The Hanuman team will be travelling to the Lao capital to promote Cambodia and the Mekong region at the Asean Tourism Forum 2013, taking place from 21-24 January 2013.

The Hanuman Booth at the 2011 ATF in Phnom Penh

The Hanuman Booth at the 2011 ATF in Phnom Penh

This year’s ATF will see more than 1000 exhibitors spread across 500 booths, plus a media contingent of about 130 from around the region. Hanuman will be exhibiting at Stand F4 in the Cambodian section of the hall and looks forward to welcoming both existing travel partners and potential new partners from around the world. New for 2013 is our Hanuman Travel Collection DVD with more than 50 videos from around the region, including destinations, experiences, hotels and cruises. Video is now an important element of a comprehensive 360 degree marketing strategy, so be sure to drop by our stand for a copy of this original DVD.

Our team at the ATF in Vientiane will include a number of our senior managers. Our owner and Managing Director Mrs Sotho Tan will be attending with 25 years and more of tourism and travel experience in the region. Our Company Advisor Nick Ray will also be on hand and he has a wealth of knowledge on the Indochina region, as he has been writing Lonely Planet guidebooks to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam for 15 years now. For French speakers, our French Department Manager Ludovic Ronsin will be attending and for Russian speakers our Russia and Eastern Europe Manager Sergey Oreshko will be on the stand during the event.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2013 ATF in Vientiane, Laos. Please drop by our stand if you are attending the event.

Remembering the Past

Monday, January 7th, 2013

January 7th is a national public holiday in Cambodia. Victory over Genocide Day, is an annual reminder of the ouster of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime on that day in 1979.

For Cambodians, the three years, eight months and twenty days that the Khmer Rouge were in power, forever changed their lives. Everyone was affected. The old and young, the rich and famous. Small ceremonies take place around the country on certain days of the year in remembrance of those that lost their lives, 7 January is one, 20 May is another which used to be called the National Day of Hatred, as well as at Pchum Ben, aka All Souls Day, in September.

Pan Ron

Pan Ron

The Khmer Rouge spared no-one. Pan Ron is one of the country’s most famous names. Alongwith Ros Sereysothea and Sinn Sisamouth, she was at the vanguard of Cambodian rock and roll music in the 60s and 70s and wrote and performed hundreds of songs that have become classics of her generation. She rose to prominence by dueting with Sisamouth in 1966 and there was no stopping her after that. That is until the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 and tragically cut short her life, and that of as many of Cambodia’s artists in all genres, as they could find. For Pan Ron her death came quickly after the guerrilla force took over in April 1975. She was soon identified, which was inevitable considering her stardom, driven to a pagoda in Bati district and murdered. That pagoda is Wat Troap Kor in Takeo province, a site some 30-odd kms outside of the capital, Phnom Penh. According to eye witnesses, Pan Ron was taken with her two small nephews, blindfolded and marched behind the pagoda and murdered. The site, with its own small memorial stupa, is believed to have contained upwards of 40,000 people in a series of mass graves, victims of the Khmer Rouge’s killing frenzy. Pan Ron, like Sereysothea and Sisamouth, didn’t survive the Khmer Rouge regime but their legacy and their memory lives on in their timeless music for Cambodians today.

The memorial at Wat Troap Kor in Bati district - the resting place of Pan Ron

The memorial at Wat Troap Kor in Bati district – the resting place of Pan Ron

Cambodia’s bird-men

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

As we begin 2013, we wanted to highlight one of our favourite organisations, who we work very closely with in Siem Reap. The Sam Veasna Center are one of the very best wildlife conservation groups in the Indochina region, enabling visitors to enjoy endangered birds in their natural habitat as well as supporting and encouraging local communities to play a big part in tourism activities in their own back-yard.

Sam Veasna Center

Sam Veasna Center

Sam Veasna Center

Who and What: Sam Veasna Center organises responsible tours to remote habitats that benefit rural communities and promote wildlife conservation. Founded in 2003 to serve as a focal point for conservation initiatives in Northwestern Cambodia, Sam Veasna works with communities in remote areas to develop and promote their ecotourism enterprises.

The Experience: Visit one of Cambodia’s many protected areas and observe rare and endangered bird species. See large rare water birds at Prek Toal Biosphere on the Tonle Sap; see the imposing Sarus Crane at Ang Trapeang Thmor (ATT); or travel to remote Tmatboey to see the extremely rare Giant Ibis.

From Hanuman: Sam Veasna is one of the most impressive ecotourism non-governmental organisations operating in Cambodia. Their projects include most of the major birding hotspots in the kingdom, including popular and accessible Prek Toal and ATT, as well as much more remote birding sites in Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Mondulkiri, such as the famous ‘vulture restaurants’ of the northeast.

Find out more about the Sam Veasna Center at http://www.samveasna.org.