Archive for April, 2014

Kids City Phnom Penh Celebrates 1st Anniversary

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Kids City is the top spot for children to have fun in the Cambodian capital with 11 floors of entertainment, education and interactivity. It’s a must for families in Phnom Penh seeking to keep the children entertained during the hot weather.

Clip 'n Climb at Kids City, Phnom Penh

Clip ‘n Climb at Kids City, Phnom Penh

Starting at the top, Kids City includes an ice skating rink with real ice, something that might come as a surprise when the thermometer touches 4o degrees. Currently the only ice rink in Phnom Penh, it will soon be joined by the larger Ice Park in the Aeon Mall (coming June 2014).

Science Gallery, Kids City, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Science Gallery, Kids City, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Another highlight is the ever-popular Laser Tag on Level 6 with an action-packed combat area including dry ice and strategic hides. But our favourite is Clip ‘n Climb on Level 4, with 28 different climbing walls to choose from. Supervised to international safety standards, this is a fun challenge for all the family and is open to all ages. Tackle the Triffid if you dare, the hardest of the climbing walls or go Head to head on a transparent climbing wall.

Laser Tag, Kids City, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Laser Tag, Kids City, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For younger children, there are two large play areas on Levels 1 and 6, including the new Toddler Town for little ‘uns and the children’s playground, full of the usual slides, trampolines and obstacles. Coming soon are family go karts on Level 3. For an altogether more educational experience, try the Science Gallery on Level 9 where learning is fun for all the family. Coming soon is Science Discovery, an interactive floor or 70 experiments for children to work on under expert supervision.

Blue Pumpkin ice cream, Kids City, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Blue Pumpkin ice cream, Kids City, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As well as all the air-con activities set over 11 floors, there are also several dining outlets in Kids City, including a branch of The Blue Pumpkin on Level 5, overlooking Clip ‘n Climb, and a Gloria Jeans Coffee on the ground floor. Other pit stops include a small Pop Tea counter on Level 4 and a Blue Pumpkin ice cream spot on Level 1.

Reading this from afar, it might sound like parental hell travelling thousands of miles to end up in a children’s activity centre, but wait until you have experienced a few days in the tropical heat. It’s the perfect trade-off to keep the children onside for sight-seeing around the Royal Palace and National Museum, so set aside a half day to escape the heat and enjoy some unexpected family fun in the Cambodian capital.

 

Secluded Samsara Villa

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Samsara Villa – serene and secluded amongst Phnom Penh’s boutique offerings.

The pool and main building at Samsara Villa

The pool and main building at Samsara Villa

If you are seeking a quiet and relaxing stay in Phnom Penh, then you might want to consider Samsara Villa, tucked away in a quiet side-street of the embassy district of the capital. With the recent addition of a new block of rooms next to the spacious swimming pool, the twenty rooms are a mix of superior, deluxe and suites, with budget conscious travellers homing in on the superior category. There’s a good choice of deluxe options while the junior suites are well worth considering. For a family of up to five, the Samsara Suite is excellent value, spacious with a garden and large living room. There’s a large ground floor restaurant area adjacent to the pool and the contemporary feel of the boutique hotel is enhanced by a collection of artworks liberally placed in the rooms and common areas. Definitely worth considering amongst the ever-expanding collection of boutique accommodation in Cambodia’s capital.

A junior suite at Samsara Villa

A junior suite at Samsara Villa

Yamashita Authentic in Laos and Cambodia

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Celebrated National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita will be running two photographic workshops in Laos and Cambodia later this year, with Lonely Planet author Nick Ray as Tour Leader.

The Mekong River at Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

The Mekong River at Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

Michael Yamashita is one of the great National Geographic photographers, spending more than 30 years traversing Asia on dozens of assignments, photographing the people, the lands, and unique cultures. His whole career has been spent portraying the authentic Asia, from Japan to Indonesia, and from Turkey to China.

Whether you are an emerging photographer or a professional, these workshops will give you the opportunity to work closely with Mike and other experts who know how to produce shots with impact, compose photo essays that tell a story; and show you how to raise your own level of image making.

From secrets of remote lighting to street photojournalism and landscape photography techniques, Yamashita Authentic is designed for small groups of 10 to 20 participants, ensuring that you get the maximum amount of guidance from Mike, while experiencing an authentic Asian experience.

The Enigmatic Faces of Bayon Temple, Michael Yamashita

The Enigmatic Faces of Bayon Temple, Michael Yamashita

Yamashita Authentic in Laos: 30 August – 7 September 2014

Join veteran National Geographic photographer Mike Yamashita on a workshop in Laos, the enigmatic Land of a Million Elephants. This handcrafted itinerary will take photographers to off-the-beaten-track locations and offer a unique insight into the life of a world-renowned professional photographer. Luang Prabang oozes class and old world charm, it’s a living, breathing museum with its gleaming temple roofs and crumbling French architecture and deserves its World Heritage status as one of the most atmospheric cities in the whole region. We delve into some of its 32 stupa-studded pagodas like Wat Xieng Tong and the Royal Palace Museum, we take a boat upriver to river to visit the massive collection of Buddhas in the Pak Ou Caves and enjoy a relaxing day in the turquoise waters of the Kuang Si Falls. Beyond Luang Prabang, we venture into the countryside around Nong Khiaw and Muong Ngoi Neua, an area of poetic landscapes and timeless traditions. Mike has teamed up with Lonely Planet author Nick Ray, location scout and manager for countless film and television shoots in the Mekong region to ensure an original experience in Laos.

Monk at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

Monk at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

Yamashita Authentic in Cambodia: 7 – 14 September 2014

This unique photographic workshop brings veteran National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita back to the majestic temples of Angkor to share his skills and knowledge. This is no ordinary Angkor experience as Michael takes photographers deep into the Cambodian countryside to discover traditional villages, floating communities on the Tonle Sap Lake and some of the more remote temples around Angkor. The itinerary has been carefully crafted to avoid the crowds that now flock to Angkor, but the iconic monuments are all here, including: Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building; the surreal and strange faces of the Bayon; and the jungle ruin of Ta Prohm. Starting early, we concentrate on temple photography for sunrise and early morning light. During the day photographers will enjoy feedback on their photographs and one-on-one sessions with Michael and tips and techniques around the temples. In the afternoons, we switch to lifestyle and capturing some of Cambodia’s incredible countryside and lifestyle. Michael has teamed up with Lonely Planet author Nick Ray, location scout and manager for countless film and television shoots around the temples to ensure that we have a unique encounter with Angkor.

For more details on these unique trips, visit http://yamashitaauthentic.asia/

Tonle Sap Lake, near Siem Reap, Michael Yamashita

Tonle Sap Lake, near Siem Reap, Michael Yamashita

Charming Battambang

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Welcome to Battambang – the real Cambodia.

Battambang has a unique charm. It seamlessly blends together the outlook of a modern city and small-town friendliness, set against the backdrop of some of Cambodia’s best-preserved colonial architecture. Timeless hilltop temples and bucolic villages can be seen on leisurely day trips by bicycle or motorbike. A walk around the quiet city center will introduce you to its fine early 20th century architecture, the provincial museum offers a glimpse into what the Angkorian period meant for the region, whilst visits to the 11th century temple sites at Phnom Banan and Wat Ek Phnom brings that history to life. More recent, but troubled history is on show at Phnom Sampeau, infamous for its killing caves, while Wat Kor village is home to 21 Khmer heritage houses, that take you back to an era a hundred years ago. And who can ignore the Bamboo Train, an exciting adventure that is earmarked to disappear once the real trains begin rolling again. Our recommended accommodation for travellers to Battambang in the country’s northwest, is at Bambu Hotel. Excellent room facilities topped off by an inviting swimming pool and restaurant, make this a perfect place to reside as you take in the sights that this welcoming provincial city has to offer.

The colonial style National Bank of Battambang

The colonial style National Bank of Battambang

Angkor Comes Alive

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Bayon temple illuminated for Angkor Sangkranta

Bayon temple illuminated for Angkor Sangkranta

‘Angkor Sangkranta’ unexpectedly exploded in Siem Reap over the Cambodian New Year period with hundreds of thousands joining in the festival, organised by the Union of Youth Federations. Exhibitions, concerts and traditional games and activities were in full flow and the larger than expected crowds made visiting the temples a tough task during the New Year celebrations. In addition, every hotel and guesthouse room was snapped up. It’s certainly a consideration if booking a visit to Cambodia next April during Khmer New Year. One of the benefits for visitors was an illuminated display of the Angkor temples at night.

Park Hyatt luxury

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The Park Hyatt Siem Reap is synonymous with luxury, style and the epitome of service. Guests are assured of a hospitality experience unlike any other.

From the Hotel
Recently rebranded renowned Hotel de La Paix to Park Hyatt Siem Reap. Experience authentic Cambodian hospitality at the first Park Hyatt hotel in the kingdom. A blend of refined interiors and graceful garden settings suffuses Park Hyatt Siem Reap with an enlivening resort and residential feel, offering gracious service on a personal scale.

From Hanuman
This hyper-modern, designer hotel in set in downtown temple town. But you wouldn’t know it, with its refined and sophisticated individuality oozing from every corner. Extensive amenities include two pools, generous rooms, gorgeous suites, some with private pool, and innovative French-Indochine dining inspirations.

Above Ground Adventures at Angkor

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Hanuman’s Andy Brouwer reviews the adventures to be found above ground in Siem Reap.

My view of Bakong at Roluos from the flying moto

My view of Bakong at Roluos from the flying moto

Seeing Angkor and the surrounding countryside from what the locals affectionately call a “flying moto” is nothing short of exhilarating. I can vouch for that. But sat in a two-seat microlite is not for everyone. Especially if you have a nervous disposition. It took me most of an hour long flight for my heart to stop racing before I began to really enjoy the experience. And what an experience it was. Aero Cambodia operate two microlites from a landing strip just outside Siem Reap and are licensed to fly over many of the Angkor temples (but not Angkor Wat or Angkor Thom), the Tonle Sap Lake and above the lovely Siem Reap landscape. Eddie Smith is a very experienced pilot and he’s been taking satisfied guests into the air for many years before moving his operation to Siem Reap. If you would like to experience Angkor from the air, contact the Hanuman Sales Team for details. It’s definitely worth considering.

Another fun-packed adventure to be found above ground is the Flight of the Gibbon Angkor ziplines in the Angkor Park. Opened a few months ago, I had the opportunity to experience it for myself and not only was it a lot of fun but I was very impressed by the safety aspects of the whole operation. They take safety very seriously. Now, they have introduced a short, quicker package for guests who don’t have four or five hours to enjoy the whole course. The shorter version will still include four ziplines, sky bridges and an abseil and there’s a special introductory price if you book before the end of October.

Flight of the Gibbon have also teamed up with another of Siem Reap’s best adventures, the Quad Adventure Cambodia people and are offering a joint package of the full course of 10 thrilling ziplines, lunch in Angkor and then a 2+ hour quad adventure around the Siem Reap countryside, in their new Gibbon Quad Adventure. Definitely a great day out if you want a break from the temples for a while during your visit to Siem Reap. Contact our Sales Team for more details.

Looking for clues

Monday, April 7th, 2014
The Hanuman Scavenger Hunt teams

The Hanuman Scavenger Hunt teams

The Hanuman Group celebrated ahead of the Cambodian New Year with a thank you party for all the staff, as well as invited guests at HanumanAlaya in Siem Reap at the weekend. On Sunday, teams of staff members then visited the Roluos Group of temples, the floating village of Kompong Pluk and then spent the afternoon exploring Angkor Thom, as part of a scavenger hunt, that added a touch of mystery and intrigue to their visit. With a list of clues the teams had to find individual destinations within a series of different temples and take a snapshot of the location with their iPhones, before the winners were announced at the final meeting point, the Gate of the Dead. Here is a picture of the exhausted teams at the finishing stage. It was a lot of fun.

Angkor at leisure

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Visit Cambodia’s Angkor Temples from your armchair. 

Google Street View at Angkor

Google Street View at Angkor

You can now visit Angkor from the comfort of your own living room thanks to the innovative Google Street View. Following in the footsteps of the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and Mount Fuji, Angkor has now received the Google treatment using a new device called Trekker. Fifteen digital cameras are attached by a long pole to a backpack, and each one records a 75 million mega pixel photo every two and a half seconds. By walking around the Angkor Wat temple complex, they are able to photograph areas that Google’s Street View cars cannot reach. For this latest project, five local men were tasked with trekking around the temples for up to eight hours a day, to record what many people say is the eighth wonder of the world. It’s a great addition to the wealth of online information about Angkor, though nothing beats actually being there yourself. More at https://www.google.com/maps/views/streetview/angkor?gl=us.

Textiles Museum Opens

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

The completion of a project that began in 2010 will take place on Monday 7 April, when the opening ceremony will take place in Siem Reap of the brand new Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Asian Traditional Textiles Museum, built with the help of funding from the Indian government. The museum will house collections of traditional fabrics and cloths from Mekong-Ganga Cooperation countries – which include Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines. Besides the exhibits and interactive facilities, there will also be a training workshop and a development centre using traditional ethnic designs.

Siem Reap is also the home of the Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles, which has a shop and workshop on the road to the Great Lake. They are involved in the revival and activation of tradition textiles in Cambodia and for textile enthusiasts, both the new museum and the IKTT center are must visits when you are in Siem Reap.