Posts Tagged ‘Kampot’

All Aboard: On the Rails in Phnom Penh

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Royal Railways of Cambodia is set to launch the first passenger services in the kingdom for more than a decade over Khmer New Year. The Hanuman Travel team had an exclusive early look at the new carriages on a ride out of Phnom Penh. 

Royal Railways Cambodia VIP Carriage

Royal Railways Cambodia VIP Carriage

 

The Southern Line from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville via Takeo and Kampot has been completely overhauled and freight services have already been running up and down the line for a couple of years. Passenger services will be launched on 9 April 2016 with fares ranging from US$3 to US$6 depending on the class and destination. The trains will be slow, taking about five hours to Kampot and eight hours to Sihanoukville, but the railway passes through some beautiful countryside in Kampot Province that is not seen from the highway.

Hanuman Travel Team aboard the Royal Railways train

Hanuman Travel Team aboard the Royal Railways train

Some of the Hanuman team had never travelled on a train before, as services have been suspended for so long and were traditionally not considered safe due to old track and occasional derailments. Now the line is in good shape and the old royal railway carriage of King Norodom has been rehabilitated as a VIP coach for charter. Hanuman is planning to create some unique steam train itineraries for rail enthusiasts and special interest groups. Watch this space and many thanks to John Guiry and the Royal Railways team for making this exclusive experience possible.

The view from the driver's seat on Royal Railways

The view from the driver’s seat on Royal Railways

 

The Royal Railways of Cambodia carriages before refurbishment

The Royal Railways of Cambodia carriages before refurbishment

South Coast welcomes Hanuman

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Hanuman on a working holiday to the South Coast of Cambodia.

The Hanuman team at Ream

The Hanuman team at Ream National Park

The sales, reservations and operations teams at Hanuman’s Phnom Penh HQ, accompanied by a six-person contingent from our Siem Reap office, enjoyed a South Coast familiarization trip at the weekend. They spent two nights enjoying the sights and sounds of Kep, Kampot and Sihanoukville. A series of hotels opened their doors for inspections and graciously offered up free overnight accommodation, the party decamped by boat to Rabbit Island for an afternoon on the beach and as if that wasn’t enough, they spent even more time on the sand in Ream National Park (pictured above) and in Sihanoukville. It was important that the staff updated their knowledge of the attractions in these three key destinations, as well as the range of hotel accommodation on offer, but they also found time to let their hair down and enjoy themselves. A win-win for all. A big thank you to the following hotels for their co-operation with complimentary accommodation: Knai Bang Chatt, Kep Lodge, OC Hotel, Independence and Sokha Beach.

Running Cambodia

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Feeling fit? Then you might be interested in taking part in two international half marathons gracing Cambodia before the end of the year.

The Angkor Wat Half Marathon

The Angkor Wat Half Marathon

Up first is the debut of the Thansur Bokor International Half Marathon & Bike Race in October. Bokor Mountain near Kampot and overlooking Cambodia’s beautiful south coast is the venue for this inaugural event, with all proceeds going to the Cambodian Red Cross. The bicycle races, 50km and 30km, will take place on 26 October and the following day, its the turn of the half marathon of 21km as well as 10km and 5km road races and a 3km fun run. The Thansur Bokor Highland Resort are offering special deals for overnight stays and packages.

1 December has been earmarked for the 18th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon, an annual event which the Angkor Park in Siem Reap has hosted since the first half marathon way back in 1996. Proceeds help charities such as Hearts of Gold and this massively popular event will have five different races on the day, a 21km half marathon, a 10km road race, a 3km family run and two races for disabled competitors, a 21km wheelchair race and a 10km run. Ask Hanuman for more details if road running is your forte.

Wildlife Encounters

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
A majestic and beautiful tiger at Teuk Chhou Zoo

A majestic and beautiful tiger at Teuk Chhou Zoo

Cambodia’s Teuk Chhou Zoo Looks To The Future.

In their ongoing efforts to improve the welfare of the animals and the image of Teuk Chhou Zoo in Kampot, southwestern Cambodia, the introduction of a brand new Paws and Claws Wildlife Encounter program, will provide an up close and personal experience with the zoo’s inhabitants. Led by Footprints, a Cambodian-based organization dedicated to the promotion of wildlife education, their focus is to transform Teuk Chhou Zoo into a state-of-the art wildlife education park. To this end they are introducing a half-day meet-the-animals session at $25, whilst their full-day version at $45 gives guests a window into the life of a wildlife park keeper including assisting with food preparation, bathing elephants, cleaning enclosures and encounters with tigers, gibbons and other wildlife. It’s just one of the ways in which Footprints are seeking funding to feed the animals and build better enclosures.

Making A Difference

Friday, August 17th, 2012
Epic Arts in Kampot

Epic Arts in Kampot

Pop into Epic Arts on your visit to Kampot in southern Cambodia.

Epic Arts do fantastic work with deaf and disabled students in Kampot, on Cambodia’s south coast. Whether its their successful outreach programme, or their educational help to the disadvantaged, as well as their incredible arts and performance workshops and vocational training, not to mention their lovely cafe in downtown Kampot. If you are in this popular riverside town, take time to pay them a visit. The cafe stands as a model for an inclusive working environment within the local community, providing employment for ten people and raising funds for the work of Epic Arts. At present the cafe generates enough revenue to be self-sufficient. Stop by the Epic Arts Cafe for delicious homemade cakes, fresh coffee and smoothies. Our favourites include the carrot cake and the sticky date cake. You can also purchase souvenirs such as Kampot pepper or postcards made by the local disabled students. The cafe is open daily from 7am till 5.30pm.

Epic Arts believes in a world where Every Person Counts (EPiC) and where people living with disabilities are valued, accepted and respected. Epic Arts aims to change people’s attitudes towards disability. They hope to nurture the abilities of those usually termed disabled by society through arts workshops and an arts cafe. Their workshops provide an environment where disabled and able-bodied people can interact, build confidence and express themselves creatively. They began life in Cambodia with dance workshops and performances in Phnom Penh; however when the team moved to the rural town of Kampot, things really took off.  A need for tea and delicious cakes soon led to the setting up of Epic Arts cafe, and a need for a fully-accessible building brought about the Arts Centre in 2009 – the first of its kind in South East Asia. Find out more about them at http://www.epicarts.org.uk/.

Footprints in Kampot

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

A majestic and beautiful tiger at Tek Chhou Zoo

In March 2011 the state of neglect and ill-care at the Teuk Chhou Zoo in Kampot, Cambodia made global headlines. One year on and the turnaround in the condition of the animals at the zoo is remarkable thanks to a small and dedicated band of animal lovers. Footprints is the name of the body formed to develop a long term and sustainable future for the zoo and to move Teuk Chhou beyond its emphasis on static displays towards a centre for environmental learning and education. The centre will serve all of Cambodia and the lower Mekong region, focusing on promoting the knowledge and understanding of the region’s animals and natural ecosystems. Find out a lot more at their website, http://teukchhou.com/. The zoo is seven kilometres outside of Kampot and close to the Tek Chhou rapids, which are popular with local bathers and picknickers.

Spotting the Sarus Crane in Kampot

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Anlong Pring Bird Sanctuary in Kompong Trach, Kampot Province, is home to nearly 300 sarus cranes.

Sarus Cranes

The sarus crane is a striking bird. One of the world’s largest birds in full flight, the bright red head is in stark contrast to the grey plumage. Anlong Pring Bird Sanctuary is an official Important Bird Area (IBA) and home to about  30% of the world’s sarus cranes. The wet grasslands in this area draw the birds to the area from mid-November until early May when they migrate to northern Cambodia. The sarus crane is a magnificent bird and seeing these creatures in their natural habitat or in flight is a rare privilege. The sanctuary is about 35km from Kep and takes about one hour to reach. This will an impressive half-day module to add to Kep and Kampot programmes for the coming high season, as it is more accessible than Ang Trapeang Thmor in Banteay Meanchey, the other popular sarus crane spotting area about 100km from Siem Reap.

The View from Bokor

Friday, May 4th, 2012

The atmospheric old French hill station of Bokor is once again open and accessible, but is it to everyone’s taste?

Thansur Bokor Highland Resort

Last weekend, we ventured up to the summit of Bokor, a former French hill station and now a national park. The area is now under development by the Sokimex Group and the new Thansur Bokor Highland Resort recently opened its doors over Khmer New Year. The first and dramatic change you notice when travelling to Bokor is the incredible new access road from Kampot. We first visited Bokor on trail bikes in April 1998 when the road was more an overgrown path with grasses and creepers obscuring the route. Fast forward 14 years and it is one of the best highways in Cambodia and it takes just 45 minutes to reach the summit. The road has been painstakingly built with professional drainage, new bridges and landslide protection.

Continuing along the plateau, the road eventually winds its way to the new Thansur Bokor Highland Resort which dominates its surrounds in the heart of the old French-era Bokor ruins. Modern Asian in style, it somehow feels at odds with the natural surrounds. The masterplan includes an eventual total of 412 rooms, so it can hardly be called intimate, and there is a large casino dominating the lobby building. Judging by the majority of customers, the hotel hopes to attract Cambodians, Vietnamese and other Asian customers but is not really aimed at the average Western visitor.

Following the road around to old Catholic church and the shell of the Bokor Palace Hotel, it still looks eerily abandoned on a quiet day, but at weekends it is very overcrowded and litter is everywhere. The old hotel is under renovation and it looks like the integrity of the old structure will be preserved. However, a nearby striking ruin that once looked like a Le Corbusier-influenced residence has been restored as a garish villa with little attention to detail. Other structures such as the old post office remain abandoned and derelict. The views from the plateau edge remain breathtaking when the mist is not rolling in, but with 1000 or more construction workers and busloads of local and regional tourists, it seems the atmosphere of old is forever gone.

So should visitors make the trip? It’s a difficult call. It’s more accessible than ever and the views are still as incredible as they always were, but the ghost town feel is history. It is certainly best avoided at the weekend, when it is extremely overcrowded, but it might be of interest to some on a quieter weekday. Until some eco-friendly treks are established far from the madding crowds that throng the new casino, it may be best avoided as there are so many other interesting sights in the Kampot area.

The Rose of Bokor is now a thorny issue for exclusive travel planners in Cambodia.

The Boutique Scene in Kampot

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

La Java Bleue in Kampot

Hanuman takes a peek at two boutique hotel offerings in Kampot

Following in the footsteps of Battambang, the boutique hotel scene in Kampot is fast developing. La Java Bleue was one of the first to open and offers three rooms in Khmer, Chinese and French style, making it one of the more intimate boutique hotels in town. The Khmer room has a wonderful corner setting with a panorama of louvre shuttered French windows. Upstairs, the Chinese room is a romantic hideaway in the loft with a private rooftop balcony. Rates include breakfast in the small café downstairs. The same owners are currently developing La Soleil d’Or, a second restored colonial building in the same Old Market district. With just four rooms and a small restaurant, this will add more rooms to the Java Bleue portfolio.

The Columns is a lovingly restored strip of old French shophouses in the Old Market district. Originally opened as a 9-room property in November 2011, the hotel will close its doors this week to undergo an extension in readiness of high season. Two more colonial-era buildings will be renovated bringing the total number of rooms to 17 from 1 November 2012. The renovation will also see an extended lobby and a small coffee shop for breakfast, snacks and drinks. The friendly owners are amenable to group bookings, ensuring this will likely be the leading boutique hotel in Kampot into 2013.