Archive for the ‘Press Articles’ Category

Feeling at home

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Sambo, Phnom Penh’s biggest star, heads for retirement in Mondulkiri’s forests.

Sambo says goodbye. Photo courtesy of PPP.

Sambo says goodbye. Photo courtesy of PPP.

There’s an important guest of honour at the Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri, northeast Cambodia this week. Sambo, the elephant who for many years was a well-known and distinctive Phnom Penh resident, has officially retired from giving rides at Wat Phnom, and is taking a well-earned retirement in the bamboo thickets of his new home in Mondulkiri. The Elephant Valley Project do fabulous work in providing a safe haven for former working elephants and Hanuman’s clients have been enjoying visits to the project for a few years now, to see these giants of nature enjoying themselves in their natural environment. And now visitors have a familiar face to meet when they visit EVP. Long may it continue. The Phnom Penh Post picture shows Sambo saying goodbye to well-wishers in the city.

The Last Reel wins the Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF Japan 2014) was a resounding success for The Last Reel team and the principals from Hanuman Films as debutant Director Sotho Kulikar won the Spirit of Asia Award.

The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the Spirit of Asia Award at TIFF 2014 in Tokyo

The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the Spirit of Asia Award at TIFF 2014 in Tokyo

The Last Reel won the Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014. There were 2300 submissions to TIFF 2014 and fewer than 200 films were selected for screening, with just 11 awards up for grabs. In her acceptance speech, Director Sotho Kulikar dedicated the award to Cambodia and Cambodians everywhere. For some photographs from the award ceremony and the latest news on The Last Reel, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Last-Reel/1581309628755913

During the week Kulikar also met with Lord David Puttnam, Producer of The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and The Mission, which collectively won 10 Oscars and 25 Baftas in the 1980s. Indiewire called The Last Reel “a remarkable Cambodian film that we’ll be reviewing presently, but which details the country’s troubled recent history with real personal emotion”.

Up next is the Cambodia premiere of The Last Reel as the opening film of the Cambodia International Film Festival on 5 December and then the Singapore premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival on 7 December.

The Last Reel World Premiere at TIFF Japan 2014

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Hanuman is excited to announce that the feature film debut from our sister company Hanuman Films will enjoy its World Premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014 on Sunday 26 October at 14.10pm at the TOHO Cinemas, Roppongi Hills.

The Last Reel

Sophuon (Ma Rynet) looks out of the projection booth in The Last Reel

The Last Reel is the directorial debut from Sotho Kulikar and is a Hanuman Films Production. It is the one of the first full-length feature films to be directed by a Cambodian woman and is generating significant international interest. The Last Reel was shot entirely on location in Cambodia during 2013 with a cast of leading local talent, including Ma Rynet, Dy Saveth and Rous Mony.

A lost film buried beneath the Killing Fields reveals different versions of the truth. In an abandoned cinema, rebellious teenager Sophoun discovers an old film starring her mother, offering her the chance to dictate her own destiny at last, but at the cost of uncovering some dark secrets from the past about her parents lives during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Visit The Last Reel website http://www.thelastreel.info/ to learn more about the film in English, Khmer or French, including a fullscreen version of the trailer to whet your appetite. The website also include the official brochure for the film, a gallery of film stills and behind-the-scenes images, and the official poster for the film. There is also an official The Last Reel Facebook page and we welcome all Likes: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Last-Reel/1581309628755913

The Last Reel exposes the legacy of civil war and genocide and the shadow this violence has cast over subsequent generations. The trauma may have only been experienced by those who lived through the dark years of Khmer Rouge rule, but the impact of the living nightmare has been passed on to the next generation. Almost nobody talks about the past, almost nobody has dealt with their past, but have chosen to suppress or ignore it as a coping mechanism to deal with the pain. However, this suppression of raw emotion comes at a cost and affects the behaviour of an entire older generation in their everyday lives. In trying to protect the next generation by concealing a painful past, many parents have in fact damaged the next generation instead by not allowing themselves to heal. It is hoped that The Last Reel will play its part in a long overdue recovery process in Cambodia by encouraging generations old and young to talk more openly about the past. The ghosts of the past are not easily buried and will continue to haunt a generation unless they are able to give a voice to the victims and their own suffering.

Before coming onboard as Executive Producer, Lloyd Levin (Producer of major Hollywood films such as Tomb Raider, Boogie Nights, Hellboy, Green Zone and United 93) had this to say about The Last Reel: “I’m overwhelmed. It’s magnificent. It’s beautifully shot. Acting and writing is terrific. Just beautifully made from top to bottom. This is such a sophisticated film thematically I can’t believe it was directed by a first time director. The way it weaves regret, remorse, joy, love, guilt, redemption, politics with the past and present. I was moved by the sentiment that movies can be the thing that can bring together disparate people – political enemies, oppressors and their victims, fathers and daughters – despite everyone’s different version of the truth.  And the idea that a movie can be just as, if not more real, than reality, and can become our reality, is truly sublime. That’s a beautiful idea and The Last Reel is a wonderful movie.”

The Last Reel is in the running for the Asian Future prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. If you have any questions about the film, please do not hesitate to get in touch. In the meantime, thanks in advance for all your help in spreading the word as The Last Reel approaches its world premiere.

Walking with the herd

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Original elephant adventures with Cambodia’s EVP.

Gee Nowl, one of the EVP elephants

Gee Nowl, one of the EVP elephants

For an original elephant experience, visit the Elephant Valley Project. The project entices local mahouts to bring their over-worked or injured elephants to this sanctuary, where, in the words of project coordinator, Jack Highwood, ‘they can learn how to act like elephants again.’ A Briton with a contagious passion for elephants, Highwood is on a mission to improve the lot of Mondulkiri’s  working elephants. While Bunong tradition calls for giving elephants a certain amount of down time, Highwood says that economic incentives to overwork elephants prove too great for the impoverished mahouts of Mondulkiri. In addition to toting tourists around on their backs, elephants are hired to haul around anything and everything, including illegally cut timber. Most tour companies in Mondulkiri stress that their tours employ only humanely treated elephants. Highwood commends this, but says it’s the exception rather than the rule. “Most elephants in Mondulkiri are in a highly abused state. They are beaten on the head and made to do things they aren’t meant to be doing.’

Enter the Elephant Valley Project. Mahouts who bring their elephants here are paid a competitive working wage to retire their elephants full time to ecotourism. Mahouts continue to work with their elephants, feeding and caring for them and making sure they don’t escape into the wild. The elephants, for their part, can spend their days blasting through the forest in search of food, uprooting saplings to get to their yummy roots and hanging out by the river spraying mud on one another. You are not allowed to ride the elephants here. Instead, you simply walk through the forest with them and observe them in their element. In the process you learn a lot about not only elephant behaviour but also Bunong culture and forest ecology. Other project components include health care for the Bunong communities in the project area, and health and veterinary care for the mahouts of Mondulkiri. The Wildlife Conservation Society lauds the EVP for helping to protect the eastern reaches of the Seima-Protected Forest.

The main option for visiting the EVP is a day trip in which half the day is spent observing the elephants, and half the day is spent washing the elephants and doing other tasks around the project site. There are a few exquisite bungalows at EVP but at the moment they are not able to accept overnight stays. Access to the site is strictly-controlled so don’t show up unannounced and the maximum number of day trippers allowed per day is 12. The site is not open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday, however there are plans to open six days a week in the future.

The EVP recently announced a fund-raising effort so that one of Phnom Penh’s best-known residents, Sambo the elephant, can see out his final years enjoying himself with the other elephants at the project. Forced to retire by authorities from giving rides at Wat Phnom and then his daily walk along the riverfront of the capital, Sambo has been in limbo for a while but it looks likely that he will be the latest addition to the EVP. Which is welcome news. Hanuman have been big supporters of EVP for many years, so don’t hesitate to contact us for more details on this excellent adventure in northeast Cambodia.

Hanuman at PATA Mart

Thursday, September 18th, 2014
The Hanuman booth at the PATA Travel Mart

The Hanuman booth at the PATA Travel Mart

The Asia Pacific region’s largest travel trade show, the  PATA Travel Mart 2014, kicked off in Phnom Penh at the Koh Pich Exhibition Center today. The 2-day PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Travel show brought together more than 1,000 delegates from over 60 countries and regions around the world. The Hanuman booth at the event was manned by Nick Ray, Patrick Chase, Andy Brouwer and Tugdual Paul on day 1, and they welcomed a succession of visitors, eager to find out more about Cambodia and the Mekong Region. It’s an excellent platform for buyers, sellers, travel agencies, hoteliers, restaurant owners, airline operators, and all tourism stakeholders from all over the world to meet and explore possibilities for business cooperation.

Guide Training in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

As high season approaches, the Hanuman team hosted another refresher session for the leading tour guides in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Hanuman Siem Reap Guide Training at Sala Kdei, Angkor

Hanuman Siem Reap Guide Training at Sala Kdei, Angkor

The Phnom Penh training took place on 3 September 2014 in the Hanuman head office and included a practical session out and about in the city in the afternoon. Guides joined our revised Living History of Phnom Penh tour and explored the new route to discover some new buildings and stories along the way. This original Hanuman itinerary includes some of the most iconic colonial-era buildings in the city, as well as some hidden gems in the back streets of Cambodia’s charming capital.

Trainers Patrick Chase and Nick Ray then travelled up to Siem Reap to work with the leading Angkor tour guides based in Siem Reap. The guide training was hosted in the stunning Sala Kdei overlooking Sra Srang which was looking better than ever with the gardens flourishing in the green season rains. The morning session was lively with lots of shared ideas on temple timings and best secret spots for sunrise and sunset, and was followed by a catered lunch.

In the afternoon we ventured into Angkor Thom for a practical session to teach the guides the philosophy behind the Angkor Thom Photographic Scavenger Hunt. Starting out at the Bayon Temple, we explored the smaller temples of Angkor Thom on foot, including the atmospheric Preah Palilay and the seldom visited Preah Pithu. This is an original, interactive way for families to explore the temples and keep their children interested. Highly recommended.

Myanmar’s e-Visa

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Myanmar aims for 5 million through its doors.

Beguiling Myanmar

Beguiling Myanmar

Myanmar has this week introduced a new e-Visa service, designed to encourage more tourists to visit the country, as they aim to welcome 5 million visitors by 2015. The e-Visa is open to tourists from 41 countries, including the UK and USA, but only grants entry to the country at Yangon International Airport, making the method unsuitable for those crossing at land borders. The single-entry e-Visa costs $50, will be stamped on arrival (it must be stamped within 90 days of the approval letter being issued) and is valid for 28 days. Applicants need to supply a colour, passport-size photograph taken in the last three months and details of a return ticket. For anyone looking to visit Myanmar and its intriguing sites, the best time to visit is during the cool, dry season between November and February.

No 1 Best-Selling Guide to Cambodia

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The latest Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia has just been published. Read on.

Fish amok - Cambodia's national dish

Fish amok – Cambodia’s national dish

Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, Cambodia’s real treasure is its people, says the introduction to the brand new Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia, that hit bookshops this month. Hanuman agrees. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh may be the heavyweights, but to some extent they are a bubble, a world away from the Cambodia of the countryside, it continues. Well you can see for yourself by getting a copy, whether its the print edition or online. There are 370 pages of great tips, maps, photos and recommendations that will enhance your visit to Cambodia and here is LP’s Top 10 of what you must not miss:

1 – Siem Reap & Temples of Angkor. 2 – Phnom Penh. 3 – Sihanoukville. 4 – Battambang. 5 – Kampot & Kep. 6 – Mondulkiri. 7 – Ratanakiri. 8 – Kratie. 9 – Prasat Preah Vihear. 10 – Khmer Cuisine.

It’s obvious why Siem Reap and the Angkor Temples made it to the top spot. LP confirms why:  One of the world’s most magnificent sights, the temples of Angkor are so much better than the superlatives. Choose from Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building: Bayon, one of the world’s weirdest, with its immense stone faces: or Ta Prohm, where nature runs amok. Buzzing Siem Reap, with a superb selection of restaurants and bars, is the base for temple exploration. Beyond lie floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake, adrenalin-fuelled activities like quad biking and ziplining, and such cultured pursuits as cooking classes and birdwatching.

Khmer cuisine made it into the Top 10 so its worth hearing why LP included it: Everyone has tried Thai and Vietnamese specialities before they hit the region, but Khmer cuisine remains under the culinary radar. Amok (baked fish with lemongrass, chilli and coconut) is the national dish, but sumptuous seafood and fresh-fish dishes are plentiful, including Kep crab infused with Kampot pepper. It wouldn’t be Asia without street snacks and Cambodia delivers everything from noodles (mee) and congee (bobor; rice porridge) to deep-fried tarantulas and roasted crickets. With subtle spices and delicate herbs , Cambodian food is an unexpected epicurean experience.

On dry land and the waterways

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Phnom Penh’s first capsule hotel opens. And take the opportunity to enjoy the Mekong waterways in style.

A deluxe room at the Tama Hotel

A deluxe room at the Tama Hotel

The Tama Hotel is perched on the 22nd floor of the Phnom Penh tower, an addition to the already existing chic D22 Restaurant, which serves French-Italian cuisine. The hotel – also known as H22 – is Phnom Penh’s first ever capsule hotel. Hotel guests can squeeze themselves into narrow bunks, which are right next to the glass windows of the tower, to enjoy a stunning aerial view of the city. For those visitors requiring a bit more space, larger deluxe and superior rooms are available. 26 rooms in total. Definitely a room with a view.

Down on the South Coast, the desirability of Kep is showing no signs of slowing down with roads in and out of the resort dramatically improved in recent months. Another new face on the accommodation front in town is a new private beach hotel, Samanea, which is spread over two hectares of natural landscape with 10 spacious and elegant villas, a sea-front infinity pool, al fresco restaurant and spa. Well worth checking out.

Cruising the waterways of Cambodia and Vietnam, is becoming increasingly popular for many visitors. With that in mind, Haimark are keen to expand their operations along the Mekong River and will introduce the 68-guest Mekong Navigator in September, a few days after they launch the 56-passenger Irrawaddy Explorer in Myanmar. In twelve months time, they will also set sail with a 24-guest, all-suite, “spa concept” ship named Mekong Princess. The company says it will have “the most extensive spa menu of any ship on the Mekong River” with several types of massages, facials, scrubs, and body wraps. Each guest will receive one free hour-long spa treatment during the cruise to begin the week-long rejuvenation.

Also gearing up for a luxury river-cruise launch is the Aqua Mekong in September. They will be offering a truly personalized, enriching and unique life-on-the-river experience, on board a five-star floating boutique hotel. Their itineraries have been customized to allow guests to get up close to life on the river and experience first-hand the colorful and varied cultures, religions and timeless traditions. After the excursions each day, guests are able to return to an elegant river facing suite on their floating sanctuary, and enjoy the comforts of the ship, like the plunge pool, indoor and outdoor bar, observation deck and gym, private screening room, games room, library, and last but not least, the spa. The cuisine will be taken care of by Chef David Thompson who has just been named a top ranked chef in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.

Political situation in Cambodia improves

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Parties finally agree to end the political impasse in Cambodia.

Cambodia's Parliament

Cambodia’s Parliament

Today, the 55 opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party politicians who won office in last year’s disputed election will officially take their oaths as lawmakers in front of King Norodom Sihamoni, ending more than 10 months boycotting parliament. The ceremony at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh comes two weeks after the CNRP and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party agreed a deal to end the year-long political deadlock that began after the opposition rejected last July’s election result.

The CNRP decided to officially join parliament after finalizing constitutional and legal amendments that will be pushed through the assembly as part of agreed-upon reforms between the parties, officials said yesterday. The agreement saw the CNRP win, among other concessions, an overhaul of the National Election Committee – which it has maintained is a partisan institution that needs to be reformed in order to make the next election free and fair – in exchange for joining parliament.