Archive for March, 2015

Into remote Cambodia

Monday, March 30th, 2015
Filming the Red Bull mountain bikers in Cambodia

Filming the Red Bull mountain bikers in Cambodia

Hanuman recently looked after a major overland expedition for Red Bull Media House, the extreme sports specialists. For this trip they were following some competition mountain bikers, including Rebecca Rusch, the “Queen of Pain”, down the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and onwards south down the ‘Sihanouk Trail’ in Cambodia.

2 mountain bikes, 5 dirt bikes, 8 4WDs, this was an expedition through some of the most remote parts of Cambodia. Crossing into Cambodia at Trapeang Kriel, the crew headed northwest to Siem Pang before crossing the Sekong River and surfing through the sand to Veun Sai. After a comfortable overnight in Ban Lung, they continued south to Koh Nhek, using the old ‘Death Highway’ from Lumphat. From there, they blasted through Sen Monorom on the new road before veering off to follow the old King’s Highway through the jungles of Kaoh Seima Protected Forest, one of the most beautiful roads in Cambodia.

All of this was captured on state-of-the-art Red Epic Dragon 6K cameras, that means 9X the pixels of an HD camera or one hell of a lot of memory. It should make for an epic endurance film through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Indochina.

Large Shadow Puppets in Phnom Penh

Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Large shadow puppetry at the National Museum

Large shadow puppetry at the National Museum

We spent an hour of culture at the National Museum last night in the company of a full house who turned up to watch The War of Indrajit, the first showing of a large shadow puppetry performance, that will begin its run of shows on Sunday evenings from June thru til August at the Museum in Phnom Penh, courtesy of Cambodian Living Arts’ Plae Pakaa program. It’s a slice of the Reamker, the Cambodian version of the Ramayana starring gods and demons, monkeys and drunken soldiers, all manipulating the traditional large leather sbaek thom puppets. You can also watch a sbaek thom show in Siem Reap at Wat Reachbo Pagoda every Saturday too. This truly Cambodian art form was recognised with World Patrimony Status of intangible culture by UNESCO in 2005. Cambodian Living Arts, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the transformation of Cambodia through the arts, hosts a range of traditional art forms under its Plae Pakaa program at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Check their website for details @ http://www.cambodianlivingarts.org/.

The large leather puppets are held behind and in front of the screen

The large leather puppets are held behind and in front of the screen

Dancing in the heavens

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Recommended viewing in Phnom Penh. Contemporary classical Cambodian dance at its best.

The Lives of Giants - photo by Chan Sopheap

The Lives of Giants – photo by Chan Sopheap

Art and culture lovers are in for a real treat in Phnom Penh from 12-15 March when the Sophiline Arts Ensemble will put on a performance of contemporary classical Cambodian dance at the Chaktomuk Theatre on the riverfront in the capital city. Their performance of “The Lives of Giants” is expected to attract big crowds for this rare run of shows at the city’s top venue.

The story is based on the “Reamker,” or the Cambodian version of the Sanskrit epic, the “Ramayana,” but more deeply informed by the legacy of a traumatized Cambodian civil society. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, the founder and artistic director of the Arts Ensemble, was only eight years old when Pol Pot’s regime took over the Cambodian capital in 1975, establishing an authoritarian order that resulted in the deaths of around two million Cambodians. Shapiro survived, and became the first generation to be trained by the remaining masters of classical Cambodian dance, part of millennium-old Khmer traditions nearly stamped out by the Khmer Rouge.

Now a significant leader in teaching traditional Khmer arts and pushing its experimentation, Shapiro’s passion to advance Cambodian dance in the wake of national devastation and loss shines through in this production. The drama focuses on the corruption of power, in which the giant Akaeng Khameaso, picked on by angels in the heavenly realms since childhood, begs the local divine ruler, Preah Eyso for help. Given a magic finger for self-defense, the abused becomes the abuser, and soon Khameaso wreaks havoc in the heavens.

Ticket prices for the 4 shows, which begin at 7pm, except the final day, when it starts at 4pm, are priced between $3 for students up to $15. Call 011 594 673 or email tickets@khmerarts.org to reserve your tickets. It’s a show that is definitely worth watching.