The Principalities of Chenla Kingdom

Those who visit the Angkorian Temples in Siem Reap, remain in admiration of a glorious past. For many, it is an unexpected event in a country that is at the bottom of the poorest of Asia, with a troublesome time of wars and conflicts right few decades ago. How is it possible that this 11th century wonders seem to be unknown in the rest of the world, when they keep the same grandeur of more famous ancient treasures in Egypt, Middle East, China, South America and Europe?

            Definitively, the Temples of Angkor – thousands of them spread from Siem Reap Province to the four cardinal directions of an ancient Empire – are the remains of a great history and great histories are made by great people. The Khmers of today, striving to overcome poverty in many ways, are descendants of that mysterious time where Cambodia was one of the leading powers of East Asia Pacific. Continue reading

When Tourism Becomes a Threat

As Globalization grows with optimistic numbers in every human sector – from technologies to communication and from economic [including the crisis] to the disappearance of geographical borders -, tourism is becoming also more and more global. It is easier in our time to plan the next holidays at the other side of the planet, as it was planning the same some decades ago to the other site of the county. Plane tickets’ cost have gone down as much as high technologies and the frontiers of our tiny planet came to be at the walking distance. In 2014 only 1.1 billion persons traveled around the world, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, with an increase of 4.5% over the previous year and it is estimated another jump of 4% in 2015. We are talking of numbers during an economic crisis period, so numbers will be much bigger in ‘better times’. Continue reading

Sambor Prei Kuk: The Center of an Ancient Kingdom

      My first encounter with Sambor Prei Kuk (SPK), the ancient archaeological site at the north of Cambodia, was in June 2010, when we did an excursion to the side with a group of my students. The splendors of the Angkorian temples, just 176 kilometers at the west of SPK, attracts thousands of visitors every year, ignoring the real roots of the Khmer civilization. In contrast with the busy atmosphere of fascinating temples like Angkor Wat or Angkor Thom in Siem Reap Province, the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk remain alone and almost untouched, although there is a permanent archaeological team in the side, waiting for a possible inclusion of these ancient jewels in the list of the UNESCO’s World Heritage – it has been as a silent and patient candidate since January 9, 1992 (UNESCO, 1992).

Sambor_Prei_Kuk_C01_BFigure 2: One of the complete lions of Temple. Photo A. Rodas (2010)

                  The temples are older than Angkor, giving to them a more mysterious tone, as I love ancient human and geological things. However, it is a real mysterious complex also because we possess very little information about its history, the one that corresponds to the very origins of the Khmer culture and identity in the context of Southeast Asia. Continue reading

Kep Trade Fair 2015

Cambodian pop star Keo Veasna, one of the artists invited to the 2015 version of the Kep Fare Trade. 

The long weekend made by the Cambodian Independence Day on Monday, 9th of November, has a lot of fun in Kep Province this year with its already traditional Trade Fair, possibly the 8th version, though the number is not written in the promotions. The event marks also the beginning of the Tourist High Season in Cambodia (November – May), that is a very important time for those Cambodian regions included as travelers’ destinations like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kep, Kampot, Koh Kong and the natural environments of Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri.

The Cambodian Independence Day has a deeply meaning in Kep, because the town was a French foundation at the beginning of the 20th century and used by the Colonial elite as a holidays’ area. The Province, now the smallest of Cambodia, keeps its own version of the Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument.  Continue reading

An E-Visa Complain

At the edge of the Tourist High Season, we start with the E-Visa and the need to be more effective. In general, the Cambodian E-Visa is the best of the South East Asia and it is really an example. Just don’t use intermediate agencies that would overcharge you. Please use exclusively the Government website:

As in any system, there will be always mistakes, system failures and misunderstanding. But it is important to work all the time to avoid it. A perfect complement could be the skill training of officers dealing with international visitors in airports, sea ports and land gates. They must speak at least a good level of English, while having experience in dealing with foreigners, using the electronic technologies and being kind. It will give a good image to Cambodia.

I got the following complain from a couple with a not good experience in their E-Visa experience. By sure, most people are happy with the service, but it is important to heard also those who are not happy in order to improve it: Continue reading

Increase in Electricity Bills

There is a wave of electricity bills increase in Cambodia right now. First it was the tiny Province of Kep, where increases jumped suddenly in April to 8%, 40% and even 80% in some hotels, even if there were less guests than last year and the weather was the same. At the time, nearby provinces like Kampot and Sihanok did not experiment such event, so different persons went to complain to Kep Power Supply that blamed the weather. Continue reading

Motorcycle theft, burglaries and robbery in Kampot Town

Kampot Town is becoming insecure, at least in the last months with reports on motorcycle theft, burglaries, robbery and bag snatching, victimizing especially expatriates, according to reports. The inaction of local authorities after reports has led to the creation of a Facebook page to denounce criminal events (see Kampot Crime Noticeboard). According to his creator, the board was created as a response to the “escalation of criminal activity directed toward foreigners living in Kampot and surrounding communities.Continue reading