Posts Tagged ‘Phnom Penh’

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.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

The Last Reel homecoming premiere

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The homecoming premiere of Hanuman Films’ The Last Reel was a huge success on the opening night of the Cambodia International Film Festival at Major Cineplex, Aeon Mall, Phnom Penh.

The Last Reel director Sotho Kulikar

The Last Reel director Sotho Kulikar

Many of The Last Reel team were there to enjoy the moment, including Director Sotho Kulikar (pictured above), actors Ma Rynet (Sophoun), Dy Saveth (Srey Mom/Sothea), Sok Sothun (Vichea) and Rous Mony (Veasna), Writer/Producer Ian Masters; Producer Murray Pope, Nick Ray and many more.  Ma Rynet scooped the CIFF Talent Award 2014 reflecting her commanding performance as the lead actress in The Last Reel. Meanwhile some of the team from the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Japan Foundation flew in to Cambodia especially to present The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar with her engraved Spirit of Asia Award, with the Japanese Ambassador on hand to welcome them in the kingdom. Two festivals and two awards for those involved in The Last Reel, what an achievement.

Our sincere thanks go out to everyone involved in making the Cambodia premiere a special night, including the Cambodia International Film Festival team, the organisers, the sponsors and all those who turned out in force to make it so memorable. Particular thanks to the Minister of Culture H.E. Phoeurng Sackona (pictured below with the The Last Reel team) and the Minister of Information H.E. Khieu Kanharith for attending the opening night. There were many other VIPs and faces from the filmmaking community there and we hope everyone enjoyed the film.  Our thanks to our supporters Sabay for some great photographs on the night.

The Last Reel team

The Last Reel team

Bon Om Tuk returns to Cambodia

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

 

The Water Festival, known as Bon Om Tuk in the Khmer language, is one of the most eagerly-awaited festivals of the Cambodian calendar. It is celebrated every November and marks a unique reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River into the Great Lake. It also commemorates the end of the rainy season. Nearly every town and province joins in the festival with boat races, though by far the biggest festivities take place in Phnom Penh with the best of the country’s boats taking part in races for three days in front of the Royal Palace, and attended by the King. The races draw an enthusiastic audience from the provinces, who use the opportunity to pour into the capital and the celebrations, which include concerts, fireworks and general merriment, attracts several million people each year. Hanuman Films caught some of the festivities at the 2014 festival, held last week, after a three-year hiatus.

New performances in Siem Reap

Monday, November 10th, 2014
Plae Pakaa

Plae Pakaa. Photo (c) Dennis Drenner

The success of the six-nights per week Plae Pakaa performances from the artists of Cambodian Living Arts at the National Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the tourist high season, will now extend to Siem Reap, the gateway to the majestic Angkor temples. Starting from 17 November, the Wat Bo Pagoda in the heart of Siem Reap will host one-of-a-kind experiences for visitors allowing them to connect to Cambodia’s rich heritage through arts and music dating back to the 8th century. Over 40 local artists from the Wat Bo Shadow Puppet Troupe and the Sounds of Angkor – 15 centuries of Khmer music – will be involved, providing the artists with much-needed regular income. Performances will last 45-60 minutes and be available Monday-Saturday at 6:45pm.

The Plae Pakaa shows in the capital of Phnom Penh have become a major attraction for tourists, who are able to watch Cambodia’s artistic traditions thrive and flourish, all thanks to the foresight and hard work of Cambodian Living Arts. The six-nights a week shows in Phnom Penh have already started their high season run again and are recommended viewing and start at 7pm. The Phnom Penh program is as follows:

CHILDREN OF BASSAC – A Snapshot of Cambodia through Dance (Mondays & Thursdays)

MAK THERNG – The Quest for Love & Justice (Tuesdays & Fridays)

THE SPIRIT WITHIN – Rediscovery of Cambodian Identity (Wednesdays & Saturdays).

 

Child-friendly Phnom Penh

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

So what does Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, have to offer for children?

Climbing walls at Kids City

Climbing walls at Kids City

With chaotic traffic, a lack of green spaces and sights that are predominantly morbid, Phnom Penh would not seem like the most child-friendly city. Thing again. There are plenty of little gems to help you pass the time with your children in the capital. Plus, what kid doesn’t like a remork ride? One rule of thumb is that kids also love Buddhist temples – especially colourful temples like Wat Langka or Wat Ounalom, and hill temples like Wat Phnom, or outside of town, Oudong. Shimmering gold Buddhas, shiny stupas, animal statues and the occasional monkey give children plenty of visual stimulation (just keep their eyes averted from potentially scary demons). The Royal Palace is similarly rich in Buddhist iconography.

If your kids ride two-wheelers, consider renting bicycles and crossing the Mekong by ferry from the dock behind Imperial Garden Hotel. On the other side, smooth roads and trails lead 15km or so north to Smango, a guesthouse with decent food and a refreshing swimming pool. Phnom Penh has decent public play spaces, including a playground northwest of the Cambodian-Vietnam Friendship Memorial in Wat Botum Park, and another playground just south of Wat Phnom. To escape the heat (or the rain), Kids City on Sihanouk Boulevard, is a vast indoor play palace, with a first-rate climbing gym, an elborate jungle gym, a science gallery and an ice rink. Other indoor playgrounds (bring socks) with elaborate slides, bouncy castle and the like can be found at amusement park Dream Land, which also has a ferris wheel and other rides; and for younger children, Monkey Business, which has wi-fi and a cafe for adults. Many of the restaurants and cafes are child-friendly, but there are a few specifically aimed at families, including Le Jardin. The most interesting attraction is beyond the city limits and makes a good day trip: Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary, a rescue centre for Cambodia’s incredible wildlife.

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.

Latin fusion in Phnom Penh

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Inside a renovated colonial mansion on the corner of Street 178 and 19 in the Cambodian capital, sits the Latin Quarter, serving up dishes from Colombia, Peru and Spain. Hanuman paid a visit this week.

Inside the Latin Quarter

Inside the Latin Quarter

Making the fusion of South American and Spanish cuisine more popular is the aim of the relaunched Latin Quarter restaurant, with an exciting new menu which three fortunate members of the Hanuman team were invited to try. The tapas-style menu certainly hosts a few stand-out culinary delights with our favourites including the Bombas de la Barceloneta, a meat and potato concoction; Chicharron, a delightful crispy pork belly served with a strong coriander puree; and the beef and chicken Cannelloni with parmesan cheese sauce. The offerings continued with Peruvian Ceviche seabass, Ox-tail with apricot stew, Chorizo A La Plancha sausage and of course, Spanish Omelette with a twist. The menu includes a host of other options to tickle your tastebuds from Paella to Suckling Pig, to Cuttlefish Meatballs and spherical olives as an appetizer with zest. For drinks we sampled the Peruvian Pisco Sour and the refreshing Gin Basil Mountain cocktails, and finished off our lunchtime extravaganza with a decadent chocolate coulant. The fusion food we enjoyed certainly worked for us and the Latin Quarter is definitely a recommended drop-in for lunch or dinner in central Phnom Penh.