Posts Tagged ‘Unique Experiences’

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.

River rafting through Angkor

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Bringing the Siem Reap River to life with exciting new raft adventures.

With the Flight of the Gibbon ziplines already a firm favourite amongst visitors to the Angkor Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia, a brand new activity is just about to take off with the arrival of Float Angkor, and their eco-tour raft adventures. Amongst the temples of Angkor lies the Siem Reap River, as it meanders its way from the hills above Angkor, through the temple complex and out into the Tonle Sap Lake. Float Angkor will bring the river and the natural beauty of the surrounding forest to life. Their rafts will accommodate no more than six people at a time, everyone gets a safety briefing and equipment before they are allowed on the river and go-pro helmet cams are also available. All of the river guides have been trained by a world champion kayaker, Eric Southwick, so you know you’ll be in safe hands. Float Angkor is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.

Pandaw’s newest luxe adventure

Monday, September 15th, 2014
Pandaw break new ground in northern Vietnam.
Pandaw to break new ground

Pandaw to break new ground

Luxury river expedition company, Pandaw has announced a new 10-night Halong Bay and the Red River sailing. The itinerary will commence in July 2015 and is open for bookings now. The sailing will offer Pandaw guests the chance to explore the beautiful limestone islands in the iconic Halong Bay, before travelling to the remote upper Red River. Pandaw is the first river expedition operator to do so.

Pandaw press release says: “The new Halong Bay and the Red River itinerary provides agents with a luxury expedition product like no other. Customers looking for that once in a lifetime experience without compromising on luxury will, for the first time, be able to visit the iconic Halong Bay as well as the remote upper Red River in one 10-day itinerary.” Pandaw’s newest sailing includes two days of sightseeing in the bustling city of Hanoi before entering the Red River with its emerald green rice paddies and 8th and 11th century Buddhist temples. Unexplored by any other river expedition company, Pandaw’s route into the upper Red River will visit the region close to China’s Yunnan Province where the river narrows. Hiking from a remote river village is on offer for guests keen to make the most of this unique off-the-beaten-track experience.

Pandaw guests will enjoy a ‘yacht-like’ feel onboard the 16-suite Angkor Pandaw as well as five-star luxury service and a crew to passenger ratio of 2:1. All excursions are included in this unique itinerary. Guests will also visit floating villages, a floating school and limestone caves in Halong Bay before entering the Kinh Thay River, mooring at Yen Duc Village surrounded by historic mountains. On the Duong River, the Angkor Pandaw will visit local villages known for their 11th century folk painting and traditional ceramic production.

Dining for a cause in Siem Reap

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Check out some of Siem Reap’s good cause dining possibilities when in temple town.

Marum, courtesy of Asia Life Magazine

Marum, courtesy of Asia Life Magazine

Siem Reap has some good restaurants that support worthy causes or assist in the training of Cambodia’s future hospitality staff with a subsidized ticket into the tourism industry. If you dine at the training places, it gives the trainees a good opportunity to hone their skills with real customers.

Marum, Wat Polanka area: Brings the best of Friends to Siem Reap. Set in a delightful wooden house, there’s a good selection of mains, vegetarian and seafood dishes and mouthwatering desserts. We recommend a visit.

Haven, Sok San Street; A culinary haven indeed, dine here for the best of East meets West. Proceeds go towards helping young adult orphans make the step from institution to employment. Loved by Trip Advisor regulars.

Blossom Cafe, Street 6; Creative cupcakes and coffees and the profits assist Cambodian women in vocational training.

Joe-to-Go, near Psar Chas; Gourmet coffees, shakes and light bites, with proceeds supporting street children. Upstairs is a small boutique supporting The Global Child.

Les Jardins des Delices, Paul Dubrule School; Enjoy good standards at affordable prices with a three-course meal prepared by students training in the culinary arts.

Peace Cafe, Street 26; Popular cafe serving affordable vegetarian meals. A focus of community activities, there are cooking classes daily, yoga sessions and Khmer classes every weekend.

Sala Bai School; This school trains young Khmers in the art of hospitality and serves an affordable western and Khmer cuisine.

Sister Srey Cafe, Pokambor Ave; Offers an ambitious breakfast menu and a Western lunch with a creative twist.

Ta Prohm’s trees

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Some trees at the Tomb Raider Temple of Ta Prohm at Angkor will soon disappear.

Tomb Raider Temple of Ta Prohm

Tomb Raider Temple of Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm, loved by many for its overgrown feel as well as its links to Angelina Jolie and her Tomb Raider adventures, will lose four of its distinctive trees very soon after officials overseeing the Angkor park decided to remove them for safety reasons. Three of the cotton-silk trees intertwined with the ruins are already dead and rotting on the inside, and another larger tree growing on one of the temple’s walls and careening sideways over the structure is in a precarious state, and must come down. The safety of visitors to Ta Prohm is paramount and though the temple’s fame is built around it back to nature atmosphere, the authorities have to strike the right balance at the 12th Century temple.

The Koki Cruise

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Hanuman join the Koki Cruise in Phnom Penh.

The Koki Cruise

The Koki Cruise

The Hanuman Sales Team enjoyed a sunset cruise at the weekend with the Koki Cruise company, a new venture started by local entrepreneur Tong Khiev. Koki’s traditional style wooden boat takes 25 people in comfort to explore the waterways surrounding Cambodia’s capital.  Drinks and tasty snacks are served by the friendly, welcoming Koki cruise team and the boat is available for private hire at very affordable prices. A sunset cruise is a great way to enjoy a different perspective of Phnom Penh and enjoy one of the city’s famous sunsets in a relaxed, comfortable and fun environment. Koki also takes passengers all the way up to Silk Island (Koh Dach) on full day trips and also offers fun fishing tours. Ask the Hanuman team for more details.

Charming Battambang

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Battambang, the real Cambodia, far from the jet-set destinations of Phnom Penh and SiemReap.

 

Unfurling along the banks of the Sangker River, Battambang is one of the country’s best-preserved colonial-era towns. Shophouses host everything from fair-trade cafes to bike excursions. Beyond the town lie the Cambodian countryside and a cluster of ancient temples – while they’re not exactly Angkor Wat, they do lack the crowds. And don’t forget the fun and thrill of a ride on the bamboo train. Battambang in a word? Charming. See for yourself with our Hanuman Travel TV video tour of Cambodia’s laid-back second city.

Water Festival is back

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Boat races draw in the crowds

Boat races draw in the crowds

The Water Festival in Cambodia is to return to Phnom Penh this year for the first time since 2010, when a stampede on a bridge packed with revellers killed more than 350 people. Officials announced recently that the traditional event, which marks the end of the rainy season and the reversing course of the Tonle Sap, will be held over three days. 5, 6 and 7 November have been earmarked for the festival, which will be held in front of the capital’s Royal Palace. With its longboat races, colourful atmosphere and the presence of royalty, the Water Festival has long attracted packed crowds to the city, creating a shoulder-to-shoulder party that can number more than a million people. After the disaster of 2010, in 2011 the government cancelled the festival due to mass flooding. In 2012, the reason given was the death of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who died in October, just weeks before the event is usually held. Last year, flooding was again cited as the reason. A smaller version of the event is also held in Siem Reap.

Prek Toal floating village

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Prek Toal is the entry point to a majestic bird sanctuary and is a fascinating floating village in its own right.

 

Prek Toal is one of the most important floating villages on the Tonle Sap as it acts as the gateway to the stunning bird sanctuary of the same name, where a significant number of rare breeds gather in a small area. Prek Toal village itself is one of the Great Lakes’ most visited as it sits on the waterway between Siem Reap and Battambang. Take a look yourself with Hanuman Travel TV.

Afloat at Kompong Luong

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Life on the water at Kompong Luong in rural Cambodia is a world away from the frenetic streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. See for yourself.

 

Everything in Kompong Luong floats on water – houses, cafes, shops, chicken coops, fish ponds, karaoke bars, you name it, even the local pagoda. This picturesque partly ethnic-Vietnamese floating village is located around 40km east of Pursat, and lies just off national highway 5 between Battambang and Phnom Penh. It’s one of the largest of the Tonle Sap lake floating villages and is much less visited than the ones closer to Siem Reap. Enjoy this video from Hanuman Travel TV and ask for more information from the Hanuman Sales Team if you want to visit Kompong Luong or any of the unique floating villages in Cambodia.