What is indecent exposure in Cambodia

  • For Cambodians, nudity in public is indecency and it “damages public order”.
  • Even to be topless is seen as irrespective.
  • Indecent exposure or making naked photos can be criminalized as pornography and public disorder incitement in Cambodia. 

Surely the three Frenchmen arrested for taking pictures of themselves completely naked at Banteay Kdei did not know exactly where they were. Westerns see a natural country like Cambodia and feel a fresh air of freedom, a place where they can do “whatever,” far from their strictly ruled nations. The reality is far from that. We live in a very rural and conservative culture that is actually very much intolerant of many things considered “natural” by others. Lastly we have three national scandals: three Europeans were expelled from Cambodia for ridding their bicycles completely naked at the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Then it came the mysterious publication of a naked woman at the very sacred temples of Angkor – the first to be investigated is Apsara Authority itself, because it creates too many questions: how the model and the photographer could follow their production without any notice in places where thousands of people use to visit? It is also probably a Photoshop creation. Then the arrest of three French young men showing up in front to the camera as they came to the world. This shows something special: Cambodia is meeting Globalization and all what it brings. Continue reading

To Saigon through Prek Chak

  • If you want to contemplate the Mekong Delta, it is the best option: Ha Tien – Saigon by bus. 
  • The Prek Chak Border Crossing is practical for going from Kampot and Kep provinces to Ha Tien and Koh Tral (Phu Quoc).
  • It is under construction. 

The Prek Chak International Gate is the best place to cross to Vietnam from the Cambodian provinces of Kep and Kampot. In Vietnam it is known as Xa Xien and it is the access to Ha Tien City in the Kien Gian Province and to Koh Tral Island (in Vietnamese Phu Quoc.) From Ha Tien there are regular public transport to Saigon with different bus companies, most of them with very comfortable vehicles to cross the Mekong Delta to reach the city. It is 322 kilometers far from Ha Tien by QL 80 road, including the crossing of a ferry at Vang Cong.

Here I am, on a real bus bed on my travel to Saigon from Ha Tien. There are also night buses that make the travel in 8 hours through the Mekong Delta. A stunning view.  Continue reading

Vietnamese and Chinese, main visitors to Cambodia

  • Between December and April 2014 Cambodia welcomed 3.59 million foreign tourists.
  • The Ministry of Tourism expects 5 million visitors in 2015. 
  • Vietnamese and Chinese citizens are the first foreign visitors to the Kingdom of Cambodia. 
  • Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and coastal provinces, main destinations. 

If agencies are too hurry to prepare staff to speak English thinking in Westerns, it is the time to include Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Laotian and Japanese in their lists, because they are the languages of their main clients. Vietnam makes the 16%, China 12%, South Korea 12%, Laos 7%, Japan 5%, United States 4.7%, Thailand 4.4 %, Russia 4%, France 3.7 % and United Kingdom 3.3%. Continue reading

Phnom Penh this Water Festival

Photo Courtesy by Kem Gunawadh.

Photo Courtesy by Kem Gunawadh.

The traditional Water Festival is back this November with many expectations and a lot optimism. Actually the real translation of “Bon Om Tuk” in English must be “Festival of the Canoas”. After three years of absence, the government announced its celebration this monsoon season November 5, 6 and 7. The last one was in 2010 that ended with an unforgettable tragedy that cost the life of 347 persons, mostly young women, and several were injured in a stampeded on a bridge to Diamond Island (Koh Pich). The next year the passing away of King Norodom Sihanouk would prevent its realization and 2013 was also suspended due to flooding and political conflicts.  Continue reading

If Inanna talks to you

 "After all the crazy night at Pub Street, I went to Eanna and I saw many Buddhist statues... so Inanna, the goddess of love, told me, clean my temple, especially of so much plastic and coca cola bottles" - Photo Inanna on the Ishtar Vase.


“After all the crazy night at Pub Street, I went to Eanna and I saw many Buddhist statues… so Inanna, the goddess of love, told me, clean my temple, especially of so much plastic and coca cola bottles” – Photo Inanna on the Ishtar Vase.

After reading about a tourist woman breaking a Buddha’s statue at the Bayon because goddess Inanna told her “to clean up the temple because there was too much rubbish, from the monks and other people” (see Daily Mail) I went to look for who was this Inanna. It could be possible that an ancient mystery of the Angkorian temples came to be revealed to a Dutch woman after a crazy night at the Pub Street? – in looking the true any hypothesis must be reviewed. Well, this Inanna is not a Khmer goddess and not even an Indian or Chinese, but Sumerian: the goddess of love, fertility and warfare. Her temple was in Eanna, an ancient city of Sumer and now located in what it is southeast Iraq, thousand of kilometers far from Siem Reap. So then, it was Willemijn Vermaat, 40, who was in the wrong place – not the Buddha’s statue. She must go to Iraq and try to break any national monument there. But I don’t think that Vermaat was the only person in the wrong place: Apsara Authority was much more in the wrong place: How is it possible that a woman breaks an archeological treasure in their nose? Where they were? Why so much daily incomes are not used to establish video cameras?

Cambodia this Monsoon

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The Monsoon is actually a good time to visit Cambodia. Raining is a blessing in a country where 80% of its population lives in rural areas and depends on rice fields. Flooding is not such a disaster, though it causes its troubles, especially in provinces lie Kratie and Kompung Cham. Here some photos from ZenTrips.net, a tourist agency specialized in Spanish speaking travelers to Cambodia.

CNN enlists 7 best Cambodian islands

CNN’s reporter Linda Goldberg enlists what she thinks the 7 best Cambodian islands. “They’re still massively undeveloped compared to their Thai neighbors, but Cambodia’s islands are starting to get the attention they deserve,” she writes. The seven islands are Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem, Song Saa, Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Tang and Kog Totang. Each island is described with a recommendation such as an island for partying (Koh Rong) or for luxury (Son Sa). The Cambodian coast from Thailand to Vietnam is of 400 kilometers and the Cambodian sea is formed by a prolific archipelago of islands and islets that remain in a very natural condition. The growing Cambodian tourist industry is already looking to them as a next setting to attract more visitors, something that could be good for the national economy, but endangers a fragile ecosystem and the life of islander families, rarely included in development plans. I normally complain of the lack of faculties in Cambodia such as archeology or marine biology. A growing city such as Sihanoukville should have a public university specializing young people in subjects like the protection of the marine ecosystem. You find the coast full of smart developers measuring islands, beaches and towns to build resorts and casinos, but there is nothing about big projects for the ecosystem protection and promotion.