Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal on Hanuman Travel TV

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Hanuman Films team recently spent an afternoon at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh and you can watch the promotional film on the Hanuman Travel TV Youtube Channel.

From the Hotel
Raffles Hotel Le Royal is the premier hotel in Phnom Penh, a hotel with rare attributes of history and style. It was first established in 1929, and in its early days, had a diverse international clientele. This grand historic hotel exudes an old-world charm through its distinctive style with a classic yet casual feel.

From Hanuman
Combining comfort and class with history and heritage, there is simply no finer place to stay in the Cambodia capital. Rooms are lavishly equipped for your every whim, the restaurants offer indulgent cuisine and facilities include a lush garden pool and an internationally renowned spa. Don’t miss Happy Hours from 4pm to 8pm at the Elephant Bar, once the favoured haunt of war correspondents.

Hanuman Sponsors the World Ecotourism Conference 2011 in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Friday, October 14th, 2011

The 3rd annual World Ecotourism Conference was held in Sihanoukville from 2-5 October 2011. Hanuman was proud to be one of the official sponsors of the event and has recorded a video for those that couldn’t make it to this landmark event.

Following on from the success of the first World Ecotourism Conferences in Vientiane, Laos and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the 3rd WEC 2011 was held in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, recently voted a member of  ”One of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World” (www.world-bays.com). The event began on Sunday 2 October with an opening buffet dinner at the Sokha Beach Resort where the Hanuman team rubbed shoulders with Luigi Cabrini, the Director of Sustainable Tourism at the UN World Tourism Organisation, along with a selection of Asean Tourism Ministers.

The conference venue was the much improved Independence Hotel. The first day included the Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, HE Sok An, and the Minister of Tourism of Cambodia, HE Thong Khon and some lively discussions on the future of ecotourism in the travel industry. On the second day, there were a series of panel discussions on the ecotourism businesses in action. Hanuman’s Company Advisor delivered a presentation on ‘Ideas on Marketing an Ecotourism Business’ and answered questions on a panel that included Rory Hunter from Song Saa resorts and delegates from the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia and Lebanon.

Several post-trip technical tours were available for delegates at the conference, including a trip to Song Saa to the see the latest phase of resort construction, a journey to 4 Rivers Floating Ecolodge in Koh Kong Province and the mangrove forests of Ream National Park just outside Sihanoukville.

For a snapshot of the World Ecotourism Conference 2011 in Sihanoukville, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_3sjM9ugwE&feature=channel_video_title on Hanuman Travel TV, our very own Youtube account.

Tuol Sleng Artist and Activist Vann Nath Dies

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Renowned artist and Tuol Sleng survivor Vann Nath died on Monday 5 September and Hanuman would like to extend their condolences to his close family at this difficult time.

Vann Nath filming at Tuol Sleng

Vann Nath was one of just seven survivors to walk out of Tuol Sleng alive on 7 January 1979. Although more survivors have been found in the following years, Vann Nath spoke with passion and pain on behalf of all prisoners who passed through the gates of Tuol Sleng. Thanks to his famous paintings of torture scenes in the Khmer Rouge prison, he became the unofficial spokesperson for the suffering that took place there. Speaking after his death, his family said “Nath just left us. A big rain pours when he dies.”

Hanuman has been fortunate enough to work closely with him over the years. Our Executive Director Kulikar Sotho interviewed him on many occasions for television documentaries and features regarding his time in the prison and his views on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. He also spent time with visitors from many countries to share his memories and experiences during his time in the prison. During his illness with kidney disease in 2009, Hanuman sent a donation to assist with his medical treatment in Thailand. His death is a great loss to Cambodia. He was an ambassador for the victims of Tuol Sleng and a witness to genocide.

Hanuman Company Advisor Nick Ray interviewed him back in 2009 for the Lonely Planet guidebook and below is an excerpt:

“Vann Nath: Portrait of the artist Nick Ray

Vann Nath was born in Battambang in 1946 and took up painting as a teenager, finding work as a sign painter and artist for cinema posters. Like many Cambodians, his life was turned upside down by the Khmer Rouge takeover and he found himself evacuated to the countryside along with other urban Cambodians. On 7 January 1978, he was taken to S-21 prison, aged 32 years, and spent the next year living in hellish surrounds, as thousands perished around him.

As one of the only survivors of the notorious prison, the Vietnamese brought him back to S-21 from 1980-82 to paint the famous images we see today. He spent much of the subsequent decade enlisted in the Cambodian army, battling his former tormentors along the Thai border region.

“I only started to paint again after the 1993 election, as I felt more free to speak openly,” he says. “This is when I was discovered by the world and became famous for my museum paintings.”

I ask what it feels like to see Tuol Sleng as a tourist attraction today. “We must think of the souls of those who died there,” he laments. “These souls died without hope, without light, without a future. They had no life,” he continues, “so I paint my scenes to tell the world the stories of those who did not survive.”

He remembers a pledge he made back in 1978 when first incarcerated: “We were taken up to a holding room on the first floor,” he tells me. “We agreed that whoever survives would need to tell the families of the victims how they met their fate.” As one of the only survivors he is duty bound to tell the world what happened.

So how does it feel to return to the scene of such personal horrors? “The first time I went back was a real struggle, as everything looked the same as before,” he recalls. “I could hardly speak or move.”

We finish by talking about the Khmer Rouge tribunal for surviving leaders. Vann Nath has learnt about human rights in the years since his imprisonment, but it’s hard to accept as a victim. “As a person who represents thousands of dead prisoners, I am not sure the tribunal will deliver enough justice for the dead,” he muses. “Based on human rights it may be fair, but the Khmer Rouge was about human wrongs as well,” he says with an ironic smile.

“If we talk about human feeling, then we want more than this, but we must ask ourselves what is fair?” he considers. “If we demand too much justice then it becomes revenge. I just hope the court will deliver justice fairly,” he says with dignity.”

Lonely Planet Cambodia, 7th Edition

Giant Escaper Disc Mountain Bikes

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Hanuman has just taken delivery of a fleet of new Giant Escaper Disc mountain bikes for cycling tours around Angkor, Phnom Penh and beyond.

Giant Escaper Disc Mountain Bike

New for 2011, the Giant Escaper Disc mountain bikes include a host of upgrades, including Shimano gearing, front suspension and disc brakes. These 24-speed bikes come in a range of sizes, including frame sizes from 15″ to 21″. Hanuman has also ordered smaller frame sizes that are suitable for shorter men or women, or children between the ages of 10 and 14, depending on their size.  Based on earlier experience, Hanuman has also arranged comfortable padded saddles for all bikes, rather than the standard small saddles that most bicycles come with today. They also have extras like reflectors, mudguards and water bottle holders.

Adventure Manager Jake Corke has developed a new temple circuit around Angkor that includes Ta Prohm at dawn and backroads through the Angkor complex to Angkor Thom. This is the perfect way to beat the heat with an early ride to Ta Prohm and explore the jungle temple without the crowds. It also helps to avoid the noisy construction work taking place as part of the restoration of Ta Prohm. The ride includes smaller trails and backroads through Angkor Thom and will be unveiled later this month in conjunction with our Hanuman Siem Reap guide training.

Please do not hesitate to contact our Product or Adventure team if you have any specific questions about the new Giant moutain bikes.

Having fun with clay

Monday, September 13th, 2010
A pottery student at work at the Khmer Ceramics Center

A pottery student at work at the Khmer Ceramics Center

Getting your hands dirty at the Khmer Ceramics Center

Getting your hands dirty at the Khmer Ceramics Center

One of my port of calls in Siem Reap last week was at the Khmer Ceramics Center, on the road that heads towards the Angkor temple complex. If you like getting your hands dirty, covered in clay and having an interesting hour or two producing something of your own, you’ll love this. The KCC encourage you to have a go at designing your own item, or on the potters wheel and under supervision from one of the young pottery students, you can copy a traditional design or just have some fun making something simple from your own imagination. The center will fire your item in one of their bourry box kilns on-site and you can get hold of your work of art within 24 hours. Okay, maybe it won’t be a ceramics masterpiece but at least you’ll have made it with your own fair hands. Make sure you find the time to have a go on the potters wheel yourself next time you are in Siem Reap. Contact the Hanuman team for details.

Kulikar at Duch’s trial verdict

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Kulikar Sotho waiting to hear the verdict outside the Tribunal courtroom

Kulikar Sotho (right) waiting to hear the verdict outside the Tribunal courtroom (pic Dave McKee)

Kulikar Sotho, the Executive Director of Hanuman, attended the verdict reading in the judgement day of the first trial, that of former S-21 commander Comrade Duch, under the auspices of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh Monday. This historic event, taking place more than thirty years after the Khmer Rouge regime came to an end, was personal for so many Cambodians, including Kulikar, who lost her uncle at Tuol Sleng prison.

The outcome of the verdict has shocked many people here in Cambodia. Comrade Duch (pronounced Doik) admitted responsibility for the prison activities which tortured and murdered more than 13,000 people in the late 1970s. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, with time already served and another period taken off for illegal imprisonment, he will now serve just another 19 years behind bars. This has been greeted with dismay by many Cambodians, who recoil at the thought of Comrade Duch ever being able to walk free from his prison cell.

Kulikar too found the sentencing hard to stomach. “I can understand the reasoning of the judges but in my view it doesn’t bring any justice to the justice system and to Cambodians affected by the Khmer Rouge regime. There was a lot of anger when the sentence was announced. 90% of the Cambodians at the court were crying. One lady fainted on my shoulder. Others were wailing and screaming and very distraught. The whole process has reopened up the past for many and the fact that Duch may walk free in the future, it’s just not justified in the eyes of Cambodians.”

She continued. “99% of Cambodians will not accept this sentence. It’s too little. And I agree, it’s not justice for what he did. The people will lose belief in the justice system of the tribunal. For crimes against humanity, 19 years is simply not enough.” In addition, she said that the verdict was not explained clearly at the court which just made the situation a lot worse. “I think the court has made a mistake in not educating the Cambodian people properly, before the verdict and sentence were given. They don’t really understand the idea of reconciliation or mitigating factors and now no-one understands why Duch, a confessed architect of so many deaths, may one day walk free, when so many Cambodians will never be able to be free.”

“I’m not even talking about fairness, because being fair would be to treat him as he treated so many others, imprisoned them, tortured them and killed them. I can’t expect that to happen or want it to happen, as we would be just the same as him and history would repeat itself. What I am talking about is acceptance and the level of acceptance. Duch sent more than 13,000 people to their deaths, that’s 13,000 life sentences he imposed on them. So only a life sentence for Duch is acceptable for me,” she said.

Also at the court was a documentary team following former Olympian rower Rob Hamill, from New Zealand, as he uncovers the truth about his brother Kerry, one of the handful of westerners killed at the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Last year Rob Hamill gave testimony at the trial of the S-21 chief Comrade Duch and was back in Phnom Penh this week, to attend the trial verdict. Find out more about the documentary, Brother Number One, at http://www.brothernumberone.co.nz/index.htm.

Khmer New Year

Friday, May 14th, 2010
Children enjoying the water blessings

Children enjoying the water blessings

Welcoming in the Khmer New Year last month at the HanumanAlaya Boutique residence in Siem Reap were the family of the company owner, Mrs Tan Sotho. Family members, friends and staff were there to join in the fun with water blessings from local Buddhist monks as well as personal blessings for health and happiness between family members. Photographs of the event are courtesy of David Mckee of  www.mckeeimages.co.uk.

Tan Sotho blessing her daughter, Kulikar Sotho

Tan Sotho blessing her daughter, Kulikar Sotho

Tan Sotho receiving a water blessing from a Buddhist monk

Tan Sotho receiving a water blessing from a Buddhist monk

The culture of Laos

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

An opportunity to find out more about the culture and taste of Laos awaits you at the Phatoke Laoderm Lao Cultural Show and Dinner that is open daily from 7pm in the heart of Vientiane. Located next to the Senglao Hotel, your menu of authentic Laotian cuisine will be accompanied by traditional performances of folk dancing and music unique to each region of Laos. Phatoke Laoderm can seat up to 200 guests.

Find out more at http://www.phatokelaoderm.com.

Dance showcase

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The Tonle Bassac Folk Group

Cambodian Living Arts and the Tonle Bassac Folk Group

A rare opportunity to enjoy the work of the Tonle Bassac Folk Group, under the support and guidance of Cambodian Living Arts, will take place on consecutive Thursdays, on 25 March and 1 April, at the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

The youngsters of the Tonle Bassac performed to great acclaim at the WOMAD and Edinburgh Festivals in the UK in 2008 and now bring their work, Children of the Khmer, into the public domain, ahead of what they hope will be regular performances beginning next November.

On an atmospheric stage outside the entrance to the Museum, the young group will perform a combination of classical Cambodian court dance and engaging traditional folk dances, accompanied by their own musicians and singers. If you are visiting Phnom Penh and wish to book a seat for this quality performance, contact us now to confirm your seat as numbers are limited. The ticket price is US $18 per seat.