Archive for April, 2013

A look inside HanumanAlaya Villa

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Introducing HanumanAlaya Villa in Siem Reap, your base for exploring the Temples of Angkor.

 

HanumanAlaya Villa compliments the original HanumanAlaya Boutique Residence with just nine rooms and is an intimate boutique escape from the bustle of downtown Siem Reap, located with a view across to the Siem Reap River. The rooms are all finished in wood trim and our signature combination of traditional Khmer design and sophisticated international amenities. As well as beautiful decoration in the form of hand-carved wooden furnishings and traditional Khmer silk, modern touches are clearly visible with flat-screen televisions and contemporary bathrooms throughout.

Beyond the rooms, the Villa includes its own secluded swimming pool, tucked away from public view. There is also a small bar-restaurant around the pool, where the included breakfast can be enjoyed each morning before exploring the temples. A wide variety of drinks is available and a menu of light bites and snacks. A range of massages are available at the Villa thanks to our sophisticated Sita Spa at HanumanAlaya Boutique Residence. These can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own room or in small pavilions next to the swimming pool. HanumanAlaya Villa, more than just a hotel and your base to explore the Temples of Angkor.

Come and Meet Chhouk

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

One of the highlights of our brand new Phnom Tamao Unique Wildlife Experience that provides a behind-the-scenes insight into the work of the Wildlife Alliance team at their wildlife rescue center, is the chance to meet Chhouk, the celebrity elephant with the prosthetic foot. So what’s Chhouk’s story?

Chhouk, the celebrity elephant with a prosthetic foot

Chhouk, the celebrity elephant with a prosthetic foot

In April 2007, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) elephant patrol in the Srepok Wilderness Area in remote Northeastern Cambodia came across a young male elephant, seriously emaciated and in obvious pain due to a severe foot injury. No more than a year old, the elephant was alone and having trouble moving around and feeding himself because the bottom portion of his right front leg had been lost, almost surely to a poacher’s snare, and was dangerously swollen and infected. Concerned about the seriousness of the injury and the level of care the elephant would require, WWF and the Cambodian Forestry Administration reached out to Wildlife Alliance and Nick Marx for assessment and assistance.

Nick, Forestry Administration veterinarian Nhim Thy, and two members of the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team left immediately to make the cross-country trip to Mondulkiri province to assist with this emergent situation. Upon arrival, it was apparent the situation was even worse than advertised. Aggressive and nervous, the elephant was not eating the food that was being supplied to him. After spending time with the elephant, hand feeding him and calming him down, Wildlife Alliance administered immediate treatment to his foot and assessed the extent of the damage. Ultimately, Wildlife Alliance staff spent two weeks in the jungle gaining the elephant’s trust, treating his injuries and malnutrition, and assessing his long-term prospects. The staff recognized that the elephant would never be able to survive on his own in the wild and so arranged for Chhouk (“Lotus Flower”), as he came to be called, to be transported to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) where Wildlife Alliance veterinarians and animal husbandry specialists could attend to his special needs.

Chhouk and the team set out on an arduous 26-hour journey through dense forest, on long roads, and through the disorienting experience of traffic in Phnom Penh, on their way to PTWRC. His personal keepers, Mr. Tam and Mr. Sarim, were waiting for him at an enclosure created especially for his needs. It was not immediately certain that Chhouk would survive his injury. With dedicated veterinary care, Wildlife Alliance staff was able to see to the healing of his leg wound and eradication of his infections. He was housed alongside the other four rescued Asian elephants at PTWRC and formed a special bond with Lucky, an older female elephant, who took the youngster under her wing. However, Chhouk’s hardships were not over.

The damage caused by his missing foot was threatening his spine and hips. The stress on elephants’ legs is already great and with Chhouk off balance, he was at risk of developing bone deformities. Wildlife Alliance animal care specialists determined that the only way to address his mobility and pain issues would be to fit him with a prosthetic foot. A partnership was formed with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, with financial support from the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, to build Chhouk a prosthesis, the first of its kind in Cambodia. Immediately after being fitted with the foot, Chhouk’s issues improved rapidly. He is now on his fifth foot as he continues to grow and require new prostheses to match his size and boundless energy.

Chhouk’s story and survival against all odds have made him a global ambassador for Asian elephant conservation and the plight of elephants in Cambodia specifically. He has been featured on television programmes all over the globe, as well as innumerable international print media sources. He is much loved in Cambodia, where he is a top attraction for PTWRC’s more than 200,000 visitors each year. As he’s got older, Chhouk has become less predictable and as such, to ensure the safety of his keepers, a steel fence always separates him from his handlers. He has been trained using a reward based system and the worst that can happen is if Chhouk does not do what is required, he does not receive his reward, a banana or an apple. He’s a smart guy who loves his food and has quickly learnt that compliance benefits all. This includes removing his prosthetic foot twice each day. Come and meet Chhouk for yourself as part of Hanuman’s Phnom Tamao Wildlife Experience.

 

Water Blessing

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Here is a quick look at one of the traditional ceremonies incorporated into Khmer New Year by many families across the country. Its known as Sraung Preah where family members and friends purify the family Buddha statues with perfumed water, in a display of Buddhist merit-making. At the same time, the family elders are bathed in water by the younger family members as a sign of respect and good fortune. In this instance, one of the younger family members gets a dousing as well.

Mandalay Moments

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Hanuman Travel TV whisks you around Mandalay in central Myanmar by horse-drawn carriage as you take in the sights and sounds of the country’s cultural capital.

Mandalay is Myanmar’s second largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. It’s located on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River and regarded as the center of Burmese culture. Under the shadow of Mandalay Hill, the city boasts a fine array of pagodas, teak-built monasteries and a centrally-located palace. Surrounding Mandalay are three former royal sites, Amarapura, Sagaing and Mingun, with sunrise or sunset on the U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak footbridge, a must for all.

Showing Respect

Sunday, April 14th, 2013
Showing respect to your elders - Sraung Preah

Showing respect to your elders – Sraung Preah

Continuing the Khmer New Year theme. One of the time-honoured ceremonies for Khmer New Year is one called Sraung Preah. This is an opportunity for children and grandchildren to show their respect for their parents and grandparents by splashing perfumed water onto them, for what they hope will be happiness, longevity and good advice in return. At the same time the family also purify the family Buddha statues with the same water, in another display of Buddhist merit-making. This ceremony is held by families all over Cambodia during Khmer New Year, alongwith visiting the pagoda, and enjoying time with family and friends. In the photograph above, Hanuman’s Managing Director Tan Sotho (green) is showered with water by her grandson Julian.

Khmer New Year

Friday, April 12th, 2013
Robam Trot celebrates Khmer New Year

Robam Trot celebrates Khmer New Year

We have a tradition at Hanuman, just before the Khmer New Year holidays each year, where the children from the Cambodian Light Children’s Association orphanage come to re-enact the New Year ceremony called Robam Trot, which originates from the northern town of Stung Treng. Dressed up in traditional costumes, they symbolize chasing away any bad spirits and bringing prosperity by re-creating the hunting of a deer. They are welcome visitors every year.

Khmer New Year, or Chaul Chnam Thmey in the Khmer language, will be celebrated on Sunday 14, Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 April this year, when the Hanuman office will be closed, and staff will spend time with their families, many returning to their home village for the occasion. The office will re-open again on Wednesday 17 April. Happy New Year to you all.

On the Streets of Yangon

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Join with Hanuman Travel TV for a look around Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city with its British colonial buildings, markets and of course, its beautiful temples.

The endearing colonial charm of Yangon, known as Rangoon during the British administration of the former capital city, along with the awe-inspiring Shwedagon Paya, its vibrant street markets and friendly local inhabitants make it well worth a few days of anyone’s time, if Myanmar is your next destination. With a population of over 4 million people, it certainly doesn’t feel like it, as the city closes down around 9pm at night and you’ll also notice the lack of motorcycles on the city streets. Visit the Shwedagon Paya at sunset, and take a stroll around Kandawgyi Lake and make sure to pop into the colonial-era relic that is the Strand Hotel.

Wildlife in Cambodia – up close and personal

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Hanuman’s brand new Wildlife Experience in Cambodia, unlike any other in the Indochina region.

Bathing with an elephant

Bathing with an elephant

Phnom Tamao Unique Wildlife Experience

This unique experience provides an incredible insight into the work of the Wildlife Alliance team who protect Cambodia’s wildlife from the threats of poaching, trafficking and cruelty. This full-day adventure offers a close encounter with some of Cambodia’s rarest wildlife and all proceeds from the trip go towards assisting Wildlife Alliance and their Forestry Department colleagues in their work protecting Cambodia’s natural treasures, their fight against the illegal wildlife trade and care for the animals they rescue. This is unlike any other wildlife experience on offer in the region, as it takes the visitor up close to these wonderful animals in the company of conservation experts.

Departing from Phnom Penh, the journey to Phnom Tamao includes a stop at a local market to buy some fruit to feed the elephants and other animals on arrival. Once at the Rescue Centre, visitors will join the elephants for a walk in the forest and feed them some fruit snacks. They will then visit the elephant enclosure to learn more about the reward-based training given to the elephants to improve the manner in which they are cared for. Guests will also meet a rescued elephant who lost his foot to a snare. He now has a prosthetic limb. It is also possible to have your very own elephant painting t-shirt, ‘trunk-painted’ while you wear it.

Guests then continue to the tiger enclosures to meet the big cats personally and watch them playing with enrichment items. Other wildlife in this area includes the incredible binturong or bearcat, one of the lesser known animals in Cambodia. Later there is the chance to visit the rehabilitation section of the rescue centre which is not open to the general public. Here there is the opportunity to help feed one of the young residents of the centre such as a baby jackal or leopard cat or play with the many mischievous baby macaques. A picnic lunch is then enjoyed in a private area close to the compound of the hairy-nosed otter, an animal so difficult to care for he is probably the only one currently in captivity anywhere in the world.

In the afternoon, there is the chance to explore the vast water bird aviary, home to some of Cambodia’s rare avian life and to walk around the nearby Lakeside area where sambar deer roam. There are also large water birds resident here, including the lesser adjutant stork, listed by IUCN as Vulnerable. These birds are breeding freely in the forest surrounding the Rescue Centre.

This really is a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors that have a passion for wildlife and its conservation. It might get dirty for those that don’t mind mucking in, particularly with the elephants or baby macaques, but for those that want to learn more about wildlife and the hard work that goes into its protection, there is no better experience in the region. And all proceeds go towards the conservation and protection of Cambodia’s threatened wildlife. By supporting this unique experience, you are contributing to sustainable conservation in Cambodia. Contact Hanuman for more details including pricing of this brand new joint venture with Wildlife Alliance, who kindly supplied the photographs.

Trunk painting t-shirts

Trunk painting t-shirts

Feeding Sambar deer

Feeding Sambar deer

Bagan, in all its glory

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Hanuman Travel TV takes a look at the amazing temples and lifestyle of Bagan, the jewel in Myanmar’s crown.

Myanmar’s top tourism draw card is undoubtedly the 4,000 Buddhist temples of Bagan. A building frenzy in the 11-13th centuries produced a stunning array of iconic brick stupas that dot the plains as far as the eye can see. Today, the temples are as venerated as they were when they were built and though a few popular structures are crowded with visitors, many remain remote and quiet and just waiting to be explored. Temple viewing around dawn and dusk is a must as Bagan is hot, especially in the sizzling months of March to May, and cooler in the peak travel season of November to February.

The Sights and Sounds of Vientiane in Laos

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The Lao capital Vientiane may not have the headline attractions of languid Luang Prabang, the former royal capital. However, it is a bustling riverside city with a number of important temples, countless classy restaurants and some interesting shops and galleries. Take a look at Vientiane in this short video produced for our Youtube channel Hanuman Travel TV, including the golden stupa of That Luang and the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane, Patuxai Monument.