Archive - June 2017

Cambodian food

Introduction to Cambodian food

Posted on: June 28th, 2017

Having the world-famous cuisines of Thailand and Vietnam close by, Cambodian food end ups not having the attention it deserves. Hope this article gives you an idea of some of the best dishes in the eclectic gastronomy of this kingdom!

One of the main features is its variety of flavors, often mixed in the same dish. Cambodians love to mix bitter and sweet tastes, sour, spicy, salty or peppery. Your tongue will have a feast in this country!

Besides its old traditions (coming at least from Angkor period), Khmer food gets influences from Thai (e.g. the green papaya salad) and Vietnamese recipes (e.g. the pho soup or the banh mi sandwiches), plus details from French cuisine as well due to the colonial period. The ubiquitous baguettes, the local version of pate, the national addiction to coffee or the frequent use of pepper – all inspirations from the French.

It is also worth to notice that Kampot pepper is one of the best in the world, so it makes sense that local people prefer using it instead of just chili. This probably creates the most noticeable difference in Khmer cuisine when compared to its Asian counterparts: subtlety instead of strong favors, great variety of herbs and spices instead of just chili or heavily seasoned sauces and curries.

Fermentation is also a common food process in the country. In fact Cambodian cuisine is famous for its (strong for the nose) sauces made of fermented fish paste, called prahok, or shrimp, known as kapi. A unique common snack in the streets is sour unripe fruits with sugar and chili – pregnant woman love this, as they believe it is beneficial for the baby!

So let’s jump directly to some the most famous dishes…

Cambodian food

Amok: it is often made with fish or chicken (the version in the picture). It is a coconut curry made with kroeung, a lemongrass paste mixed with turmeric, garlic, chili and other spices. Add a plate of steam rice and you have the most popular dish in Cambodia.

Kuy teav noodles: a clear noodle soup made out of pork broth, some meat, vegetables, meatballs, scallions and fried garlic.

Cambodian food

Char kdao: tasty meat fried with lemongrass, garlic, chili, hot basil and served often with rice.

Lor cha noodles: stir-fried noodles (a special version only found in Cambodia looking like short fat worms instead of long spaghetti) with a choice of meat, bean sprouts and other vegetables, soy and fish sauce, normally topped with a fried egg. It’s one of the cheapest dishes, you can find it on the street for about 3000 riel (75cents).

Cambodian food

Green mango salad: similar to the Thai green papaya salad (the delicious som tam). In Cambodia it has less chili and a larger variety of flavors such as lime juice, mint and basil leaves, fish sauce, shallots and sugar. Served with carrots, peppers, tomatoes, long beans and other vegetables, topped with roasted peanuts, small shrimps and fermented crabs.

Bai sach chrouk: one of the most typical breakfast, consisting on steamed rice with barbecued pork, pickled salad, often served with a small omelet on top and a bowl of soup. Also found on the street for about 3000 riel (75cents).

Cambodian food

Samlor korko soup: a soup made with kroeung (the traditional Cambodian curry paste made out of lemongrass and other herbs and spices), fish paste, vegetables and fish or meat.

Bobor: a Chinese-inspired rice porridge with different vegetables and meat (sometimes with cubes of coagulated blood as well).

Cambodian food

Beef Loc Lac: savory fried beef with onions and a thick brown sauce, served with rice and lettuce.

Nom banh chok: a traditional breakfast dish as well. It consists on rice noodles cooked with green curry made out of fish, mixed with lemongrass, turmeric and kaffir lime.

Cambodian food

Khmer curry: delicious thick curry with a combination of ingredients such as coconut milk, sweet potatoes, onions, long beans, turmeric, garlic, shallot and others.

For  adventurers, Cambodia is the perfect place to experiment weird stuff. Fried tarantulas and insects, pickles made out of giant red ants, dog stews, grilled frogs and snakes on a stick and much more. You can have fun exploring some of the things locals enjoy eating! Remember that Cambodia has a past of extreme poverty and slavery in the farms turned into concentration camps by Khmer Rouge. Therefore, anything that moved was an opportunity for a starving person to fill his empty stomach.

Hope we gave you some ideas of the food to discover in Cambodia. Don’t stick to fried rice or fried noodles and try some of the local specialties!

 

Read more

CAmbodian cinema

Cambodian Cinema and its golden age

Posted on: June 27th, 2017

Many travelers probably don’t know but, before the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia had a thriving culture and movie industry. Hundreds of movies were fueling Phnom Penh’s vast amount of movie theaters, creating in the population a deep love for this art. It is still possible, in some cities of the Kingdom, to see what remains of the old movie theaters and their beautiful architecture.

Stay tuned for a quick introduction to Cambodian cinema and its golden age!

If you want to know more about the movie theaters, check the Roung Kon project, formed by a group of local architecture students and graduates passionate about the architecture of the sixties. With many movies produced and people from every class interested in going to the cinema, many venues popped-up in Phnom Penh, especially in the riverside area along street 13. King Sihanouk appointed the famous architect Vann Molyvann in order to develop the capital of the newly-independent kingdom. This lead to the development of the new Khmer architecture, a mix of modern and traditional Cambodian aesthetic.

Cambodian cinema

A guide from the Roung Kon project showing a old photo of the currently destroyed Phnom Penh Cinema.

Focusing on the movies, the first Cambodian directors started working in the fifties, including Sun Bun Ly, Roeum Sophon and Leu Pannakar. But was just in the next decade that the industry boomed, with around 300 to 400 movies produced. It all happened from 1960 to 1975, when civil war stopped any cultural endeavors in the country. These years are the Golden Age of Cambodian cinema and arts. Even King Sihanouk was making movies, like the Rose of Bokor with Queen Mother Norodom Monineath (you can see some excerpts here). You can consult his entire filmography here. Some of his movies are even available entirely on Youtube, such as Little Prince from 1967 and Twilight from 1969.

CAmbodian cinema

A photo inside the currently abandoned Cinestar Cinema – the first one in Phnom Penh and where the Royal Family used to go in the 60s.

The best way to learn more about the Golden Age is to watch the celebrated documentary of Khmer-French director Davy Chou called Golden Slumbers (you can see a trailer here). He is the grandson of Van Chann, one of the main film producers in the sixties’ Cambodian movie industry and started a journey to discover and interview the remaining stars of that period who managed to survive the Khmer Rouge. During that time in fact the Khmer Rouge soldiers killed most of the artists and intellectuals, totally dismantling the Cambodian culture.

The old movie posters, often painted by hand and with beautiful vintage quality, are a unique example of the culture of that era. A quick search on google retrieves some examples of this.

Coming back to the present, unfortunately most of these movie houses have already been destroyed or abandoned (being the Lux Cinema on Norodom Boulevard the last one, closing its doors just a few months ago). So besides the commercial movie theaters in Phnom Penh such as Aeon mall, other alternative venues that regularly showcase Cambodian and international movies are Meta House, Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, French Institute and the Flicks Community Cinema (check the links or facebook pages for their current schedule). In Bophana you can research in their extensive film archive and watch old movies for free. You will get to know more about Cambodian history and culture.

If you want to know more about Cambodian movies of the last decades, here are some alternatives, with links to their trailers:

  • Lost Loves, based on a true story of a mother during the Khmer Rouge regime
  • Missing Picture, from one the most important current directors and producers, Rithy Panh, and nominated for an Oscar some years ago for its unique approach of using clay figures to reveal images that are long gone due to Khmer Rouge
  • A River Changes Course, a beautiful documentary about the people living on the Mekong, from Kalyanee Mam who won an award on Sundance festival with this film
  • Diamond Island, a wonderful movie from Davy Chou shot with amateur actors and following a countryside boy that arrived to Phnom Penh in search of work and dreaming of modern life (it also won an award on the International Critics’ Week from Cannes Film Festival)
  • Turn Right Turn Left, a story about a Cambodian girl passionate about dancing and spending her time daydreaming about the Cambodian sixties rock’n’roll
  • Nine Circles of Hell, a Czech movie with the unique feature of being shot in Phnom Penh right after the defeat of Khmer Rouge, being an interesting document of the state of the city in that moment (including some scenes inside the Tuol Sleng prison right after being liberated)
  • Killing Fields, probably the most famous movie about the Khmer Rouge period, with stars such as John Malkovich and following a truth story of a Khmer and an American journalists during the occupation of Phnom Penh by the Pol Pot’s soldiers
  • Lord Jim, another Hollywood movie, this time shot in Cambodia even before the Khmer Rouge, featuring the talented actor Peter O’Toole and having some scenes on Angkor Wat
  • The Gate, a memoir of the only westerner who survived the Khmer Rouge

Cambodian cinema

Hemakcheat, one of the few movie theaters that still stands untouched.

We hope we had sparkle in you curiosity for the Kingdom’s cinema, its unique Golden Age and the recent revival with young directors trying to tell stories about Cambodia in an unique way.

While in Phnom Penh, definitely try to catch a screening of Golden Slumbers or Diamond Island. They are both movies from Davy Chou, one of the most interesting directors of the new generation!

Read more

cambodian eco projects

Being inspired by Cambodian eco projects!

Posted on: June 22nd, 2017

If you are a traveler in Southeast Asia, you probably have already noticed the amount of trash everywhere. Plastic is the leader of all concerns, “decorating” beautiful jungles or otherwise pristine beaches. It’s hard to accept and a sad reality to embrace.

It can be very frustrating to go to Cambodian markets (or other markets in any Southeast Asia country), especially if you are an eco-lover person. The amount of plastic bags or containers used and soon thrown away is impressive! In Phnom Penh especially, plastic bags are one of the major causes of monsoon floods, clogging the street drains. For this reason, it is always refreshing to see local people concerned about this, dedicating their lives to them.

Here we share some of the inspiring projects happening in Cambodia regarding ecological or environmental matters!

cambodian eco projects

Typical sight on a Phnom Penh street, the trash keeps pilling it up…

So if plastic bags are one of the main problems, let’s start by them! If you are passing by Phnom Penh, check Funky Junk Recycled, a social enterprise using plastic bags to create different products. Perfectly knitted, they become beautiful accessories and furniture for your home – with a social cause in mind. Focusing on the same kind of gorgeous products made of plastic bags but based in Siem Reap, the Rehash Trash project is also a must visit. You can buy their products next to the Green Gecko Project. This organization owns the project and supports street kids that used to live and beg on the street.

In order to raise awareness, there are some initiatives such as Clean Green Cambodia or the Green Night at Meta House. Held every month in this art space on Sothearos Boulevard in Phnom Penh, it’s an interesting event with talks, eco-movies and a fair trade market with products of different organizations with an ecological mindset. Plastic Free Cambodia provides trainings and workshops related to reducing plastic waste in organizations, schools and companies. They often organize challenges, like going one month without plastic, in order to sparkle the public’s creativity on finding solutions to live with less non-organic waste. Examples of this can be for instance:

  • choosing re-usable food containers instead of styrofoam boxes
  • using cloth bags to go to the market instead of asking new plastic bags
  • drinking your coffee or cocktail without a plastic straw (or buying a bamboo straw, more on that later!)
  • drinking from and re-filling a reusable water bottle or thermo instead of buying bottled water
  • using re-usable cups instead of plastic ones for your morning coffee

There are some interesting companies in Cambodia that help you in this, such as the Chhlat startup that makes and sells reusable bottles. The biodegradable bags from Cleanbodia are another option. They are made with cassava so even in the nature they will totally dissolve after a few years. With the same concept in mind, EcoSense Cambodia produces different food containers, fully biodegradable. They are able to replace any styrofoam package normally available in the market! Also, if you really like drinking from a straw, why not buying a reusable one made with bamboo from Mekong Quilts (with shops in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap). They even make bicycles with bamboo, how cool is that?!

And one of our favorites, with the motto “products that change lives”, Friends’n’stuff also has shops in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, selling from clothes to stationary, from souvenirs to accessories, from bags and wallets to home products. Everything is made with recyclable materials, such as old newspapers and magazines, car tires, cloth threads or old cutlery. If you buy their products, you support their programs with street children and marginalized families and communities. Moreover, they are one of the most well known and trusted NGOs in Cambodia.

With a totally different approach, doing very interesting projects on construction with a social and environmental mindset, Husk Cambodia in Siem Reap builds houses and schools using plastic bottles filled with trash inside, one of the most simple and effective ways to deal with trash! Exo Foundation is doing the same in Battambang area. Both can be interesting projects to visit in case you are passing in any of these cities.

We hope to give you some inspiration with the eco projects happening in Cambodia. They definitely bring us hope about the change in use and perception of consequences that plastic have over the environment. We all dream of a Southeast Asia without trash in its beautiful nature, don’t we? 🙂

Read more

Life in Kampot

Kampot, the perfect town if you’re looking for a place to stay longer

Posted on: June 20th, 2017

Often in our travels we may start to have a kind of overwhelming feeling fading in, due to all the new places we see and new things we learn. We suddenly feel the need to stop somewhere for a longer time, build longer relationships and make friends that are not leaving in the next day. Perhaps this is just to have some time to think and digest all the experiences from our trip.

If this is your case, one decision that you may have been struggling is which kind of place to choose for this purpose. From a bigger city like Phnom Penh, with its many activities but at the same time more hectic lifestyle, to somewhere quiet and with less things to do, like Koh Rong Samloem or Koh Ta Kiev.

Well, maybe Kampot can be the perfect option. It is an alternative that stands in the middle and provides a relaxed environment as well as some events and activities. If you are looking for a place to stay longer and relax from your travels, have a look on some of our arguments to choose Kampot!

It is a sleepy town by the river, with some interesting venues in its center and surrounded by nature and beautiful mountains (for that check out our article on the Kampot’s surroundings). For instance, if you are up to starting your day with some exercise, have a look on the Yoga classes on Simple Things (classes every day except Wednesday) or in the Yoga @ Bantey Srey (which also supports their social enterprise project, delivering training and jobs to local women). If you are more of a couch type of athlete, check Ecran Cinema and Movie House with screenings at 4pm and 7.30pm. They also give you the possibility to rent your own movie room at the time you prefer and even host the Kampot Comedy Club from time to time.

Life in KampotWith a four meters screen, this is the best place in town for watching interesting movies (besides the Khmer mainstream ones of the normal cinemas!)

On the cultural side, you have also Kampot Traditional Music School to learn more about Khmer culture and arts or watch a performance. Moreover, many bars in town host live music, namely the ones around the riverside or the Old Market area. Actually, Kampot is famous for its rock’n’roll bands such as Cambodia Space Project, Kampot Playboys or Bokor Mountain Magic Band. On Wednesday nights you can find an open mic at Magic Sponge guesthouse (8pm onwards), while on Fridays they host a quiz night (7pm onwards).

Alternatively, if your style is more staying at your guesthouse reading on the hammock, have a look at Bookish Bazaar, a highly pleasant café and bookshop with more than 7000 books available for sell or exchange. With the bonus of selling delicious and fresh bakery products, from italian delicacies to cookies and muffins. On the first floor they also have a gallery space hosting some exhibitions.

Life in Kampot

The entrance of the lovely Bookish Bazaar, more often than not with a tempting smell of recently baked goods (but that’s hard to photograph).

An interesting café is also Epic Arts. It not only provides delicious coffee but is also a social business, helping the local community with teaching skills and giving jobs to handicap youth. By the same organization, there’s also the Epic Creations shop with exquisite handicrafts and other products. A perfect place to find that perfect souvenir you are looking for.

Life in Kampot

The trendy Epic Creations shop.

Other great places for shopping are The Kampot Pepper Shop (don’t forget that it’s the main product from this area, considered by many people the best pepper in the world!) or Om fashion and organic shop for beautiful handmade clothes and special organic products such as moringa tree or cosmetics made with coconut oil. Check as well the vintage shop Kampot Head, housed in an old cinema from the sixties.

Life in Kampot

One of the cool remains of the Khmer architecture from the 60’s.

Have a look at the Night Market near the Durian roundabout (especially busy during evenings, where children flock to its tiny but quite kitschy amusement park). It is a funny place to spot locals and make new friends!

If you want to do some activities during the day you can also try the boat trips with the fisherman of the Trapangsangke Fishery Project (which supports the restoration of mangrove forest nearby Kampot). Alternatively, in the same social conscious mindset, you can volunteer at the Kep Garden Association and help their projects (English classes, skills training, among others). If, on the other hand, you are more a night person, head to Banyan Tree for their Friday parties and Naga House on Saturdays. Both guesthouses are on the other side of the river, a beautiful setting for dancing all night long, meet new people from the expat and traveler crowds or watching the sunrise by the river.

Hope we could give you some reasons why staying a bit longer in a charming and calm place like Kampot. It is definitely worth your time and will give back to you meaningful relationships with other like-minded people, in addition to time for you to digest all your traveling experiences… enjoy!

 

Read more

oudong

Oudong, an ancient capital filled with beautiful pagodas

Posted on: June 13th, 2017

Slightly north of Phnom Penh a small mountain rises from the flat countryside with an outstanding collection of temples and pagodas, offering a beautiful view of the surroundings while breathing some truly fresh air. As a bonus, Oudong is less than one hour drive from the capital.

oudong

The view from the top of the mountain.

Sometimes written in English as Udong or Odong, this peaceful village is between 35 and 40 kms from Phnom Penh. Once it was the capital of the kingdom, from the beginning of the 17th century to 1866, and now is part of Kampong Speu province. To come here you can take any bus that follows the road to Battambang (for instance the one to Kampong Chhnang) and ask the driver to be dropped off in Oudong. On the main road you will see a large gate where you will have to turn left. No worries, many moto-taxis will certainly be there waiting for you!

oudong

The gate to turn left on the main road.

Following this road, you will reach the foothill of the Phnom Udong mountain, where the complex of temples is. To see what are the main things to visit, check the tourist information map at the entrance of the new main stupa, near all the restaurants and parking spaces.

The main stupa is built according to traditional Cambodian decorative motives (called kbach in Khmer) and houses many statues of Buddha inside. You can start here by climbing the 500 steps to the top to admire the stupa itself and the view of the surroundings the fresh breeze.

oudong

The new main stupa with its very kbach style of decorations.

When you come down again, take some time to stroll in the food stalls nearby. Here you can try different Khmer snacks such as grilled frogs, dry baby frogs or a sort of pickles made out of gigantic ants. Weird but delicious!

 

oudong

Baby frogs!

Around these hills you can also find the huge and gorgeous Wat Prasat Nokor Vimean Sour (which also houses a vipassana meditation center), the former Royal palace Veing Chase, a mausoleum with a tiny bone of Buddha, various stupas with remaining of previous kings such as Chedi Damrei Sam Poan, a handicraft village and the Arthaross temple (or what remains after the Khmer Rouge). Keep exploring to visit many more pagodas! Don’t miss the Chedi Trai Trang, with traditional four Cambodian faces on top. It really resembles the famous Bayon temple in Siem Reap.

oudong

The beautiful Wat Prasat Nokor Vimean Sour.

It’s a very pleasant one day trip from Phnom Penh, and an easy one to do. Just catch a bus or hire a taxi (both options available on Camboticket website) to explore the former royal capital of Cambodia. The many beautiful pagodas and incredible views of the countryside from the top of the Phnom Udong mountain are not to be missed. Definitely a weekend afternoon well spend!

Read more

Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham, saying goodbye to the longest bamboo bridge in the world

Posted on: June 12th, 2017

Even being the third largest city in the country doesn’t take the sleepiness out of Kampong Cham: a town (slowly) living on the riverbank of the Mekong, home to a variety of ancient temples and the famous bamboo bridge. Kampong Cham is an interesting sight not so far away from Phnom Penh.

Kampong Cham

Peaceful life on the side of the river.

The best way to travel around here is renting a bicycle or a motorbike, being free to explore the surroundings. There you will find various temples from the old Khmer empire, of the same time or even before the Angkor Wat period. Check at least the Nokor Wat, from the 11th century, resembling the typical Angkorian architecture. Don’t miss also Phnom Hanchey, a nice hilltop temple with a beautiful view of the surroundings. One of our favourites is Wat Maha Leap, around 20km from Kampong Cham, one of the last wooden pagodas in the country. For the ones looking for more temples, there are Phrom Pros and Phnom Sray (literally men’s hill and women’s hill).

Kampong Cham

A quite serious but shiny Buddha from one of the city’s temples.

This was also domain of the Cham ethnic for some time, hence the city’s name. For this reason, you can still find a large Cham population here, the mosques and houses with their distinctly Arabic decoration. Besides that, the city is a pleasant combination of old colonial architecture from the French, modern Cambodian architecture and Chinese shop-houses. You will notice that it is quite clean and easy to walk compared to Phnom Penh.

Take some time to stroll along the pleasant riverside. Don’t miss the remainings of the famous Kampong Cham bamboo bridge, the longest of its kind in the world. It’s built from scratch every dry season for the locals to cross to Koh Paen, a small island in the Mekong. Then each year, during the rainy season the rising of the water level destroys it. It’s a monument to the ingenuity of Cambodian traditional engineering, but it is also able to hold incredible amounts of height, enabling even trucks to pass through. However, the government has just built a cement bridge, so this may be the last year the bamboo bridge is built. You can know more about this story in this article from Phnom Penh Post.

Kampong Cham

A man looking at the remaining of the bamboo bridge in both sides of the river.

Have a look at Koh Paen itself, a pretty and clean village where you can spot genuine Cambodian rural lifestyle. There’s also a beach for the ones looking for some sun and relaxing days on the sand. Check also the Khmer handicrafts in Cheung Kok ecotourism village close to the main town.

If you want to stay for a while, OBT Homestay and Bungalow, in Kampong Cham itself, is a great option. It’s an organization delivering training to local children. They use the money from their tourism program (from 5 to 20 dollars depending if you are staying with a local family or in your own private bungalow) to support their work.

Kampong Cham

Weird sculptures that you will find everywhere in Kampong Cham.

Indeed quite a pleasant city to visit for a couple of days! Kampong Cham is just 120 kms from Phnom Penh but has a very relaxed pace of life. Have a look on Camboticket website for options on how to get there from Phnom Penh or other Cambodian cities!

 

Read more

Theary's Story

Friends International – Theary’s Story

Posted on: June 9th, 2017

Despite having a mother, Theary grew up in many orphanages in Phnom Penh. She felt abandoned and missed her relationship with her mum. She was able to study until grade 5 at the orphanage, but after moving back home she wasn’t able to go to school as she kept moving houses, which eventually took her out of Phnom Penh and to a rural area.

When she moved back to Phnom Penh earlier last year she met an old lady who told her about Friends-International, where a new life chapter for her has begun:

“I felt relived once I walked into the center. I met staff who happily introduced themselves to me.  It was when I gained all my hope once again to be someone better. I was offered a safe place to stay called a group home where I get to live with three other young girls from different trainings. I was guided around a busy center before I decided to choose the beauty training.”

 

Theary's Story

 

“I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity in which everything is totally free for me. I could access all the necessary facilities during my training here, where I feel like home. I get to know lots of new friends and they are very nice to me since we all are from the same life background.  I’m now in the second level of my beauty training that is equipped with other required classes like Khmer literacy, English, and computer skills.  I think my life has changed a lot. I have never thought of getting a skill or be anyone better. But Friends-International has changed my perspective of life. I do enjoy my training here and getting to learn new things every day”.

Theary, now 16, has high hopes to use her skills in the future to find a good job. She dreams of getting a big house where she can live happily with her mother and sisters.

It is only thanks to our generous supporters, such as CamboTicket and their customers, that Friends-International are able to build a future for children and young people in Cambodia. Thank you for your support.

 

*Name has been changed.

Read more

Phnom Penh rivers

Phnom Penh, the city of the three rivers

Posted on: June 7th, 2017

Phnom Penh is a fast-growing capital city in the middle of Southeast Asian crazy development trend and one may miss some of its unique characteristics, overlooking its beauties. Did you know that Phnom Penh is located in the confluence of three rivers: Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac? Stay tuned to know a little bit more about how they control the whole Cambodian way of living!

Phnom Penh rivers

People living near the riverbank in Phnom Penh on floating houses. They have a slow-paced life as they are not even living in such a fast-paced capital!

All the three rivers have long history and importance in terms of commerce, development, transportation routes and survival itself. Some interesting facts:

  • The Tonle Sap river comes from the lake with the same name (its means exactly the Great Lake). Its fishes are the main source of protein for Cambodia.
  • The Mekong is the source of food and livelihood for nearly 60 million people along its whole course. It has the world’s largest freshwater fisheries. With 800 different native species, it is only second to the Amazon river in terms of biodiversity richness.
  • The Mekong is the 10th longest river in the world: it starts in the Tibetian plateau, crossing China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, ending up into the so-called Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam.

Phnom Penh rivers

Local crossing the river on a tiny boat!

The Tonle Sap lake, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia with a complex life cycle along the year. From November to end of May, the water flow goes from the lake down to the river until Phnom Penh, where it joins the Mekong. This lowers the water level of the lake and marks the Cambodian dry season. Now, at the beginning of June, it reaches a perfect equilibrium and the river literally stops flowing. From mid June to October, the water starts flowing reverse, coming from the Mekong up to the Tonle Sap river towards the lake, filling it again. You can have a look on a diagram of this changes in flow here.

This change in the flow shapes Cambodian seasons and its cycle throughout the year (agricultural crops, spiritual festivals, etc). A famous Khmer proverb says “When the water rises, the fish eat the ant – when the water recedes, the ant eat fish”. Apparently a local version of what goes around comes around! It inspired also a famous work of Mak Remissa, one of the best Cambodian photographers of his generation. Take a look at it here.

Another important fact is that, from here onwards the Mekong Delta starts, with the river dividing in more and more branches.

The Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda mark the importance of the area and the riverside itself is one of the highlight of the city. It is a very popular place to hang out with family and friends. Don’t miss the gardens in front of Royal Palace in the evening, perfect to spot the local lifestyle or do some street photography. Here it takes place the important Water Festival, a 3-days festival with a traditional river race! Every November, tousands of people gather on the riverbank to watch the beautiful and long boats passing by.

Phnom Penh rivers

An old cruise boat now forsaken on the river bank of Tonle Sap.

Finally, we still have to mention the third one in the confluence in Phnom Penh: the Bassac river. It starts here and crosses Vietnam’s border, where it is called Hậu River. Bassac river is in fact the main way connecting Cambodia and Vietnam. Along its route there are many different islands that you can explore. Probably none of them is as interesting as Koh Dach, or Silk Island though!

Koh Dach stands exactly in the converging point between Mekong and Tonle Sap. Have a look at this other article from our blog for some info on it.

If you are curious on how people live near the Tone Sap lake, read this other one. We wrote it during our trip through Kampong Khlaeng, not far away from Siem Reap. Don’t miss it if you are passing nearby!

Unfortunately it is not all a bed of roses: the “development at all costs” happening in Asia changes the rivers quickly. The high consumption of electricity in the major cities is forcing a dams building marathon that, consequently, manipulates the river flow, cuts in the fishes migration and evicts the population living in the riverbanks. If you would like to get more information about this issue, check here.

Phnom Penh rivers

Local fisherman on its boat. With some bargaining and basic Khmer skills, you can hire it and visit the floating houses between Mekong and Tonle Sap.

Hope this article gave you some more information on these three beautiful rivers that make Phnom Penh such a special capital. You should not go out of the city without taking a cruise or hire a boat from the fishermen! Look for them on the other side of the river after crossing the Japanese Friendship Bridge! This is one of the few places in the world where a river changes its flow over the year. A unique must see:)

Read more

Yoga in Phnom Penh

Connect with your body and mind in one of the Yoga centers in Phnom Penh

Posted on: June 6th, 2017

Living in a city, it can be challenging to keep yourself healthy and to find a perfect balance between your body and mind. This is especially true in a place like Phnom Penh. Here traffic, pollution and our work-life balance could be a bit overwhelming! The best way to deal with this is of course travelling. There is no need of much more with so many incredible places available in Cambodia for a quick weekend escape! However, in those weekends where you really have to stay in town, or even during the week, Yoga can be a great way to relax and find some peace of mind in this fast pace environment. Have a look at these centers to do Yoga in Phnom Penh, come to try it and connect with your body and mind!

Yoga in Phnom Penh

One great option is Yoga Phnom Penh by Azahar Foundation. They have drop in classes for 9$ and classes with new Khmer teachers for a minimum donation of 5$. It is open every day, except Fridays and Sunday’s afternoons. They deliver Yoga Basics, Vinyasa Flow, Knoff Yoga, Fly Fit and Fly Yoga. On top of that they train teachers, in case you want to pass to the next level! More info here.

Definitely one of our favorites is Krama Yoga, a social enterprise providing both Yoga classes and outreach programs to some of the most poor or exploited communities in the country.

In their Nataraj studio you will find everyday classes of different practices: Yoga Basics, Ashtanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Yoga Flow, Restorative Yoga, Pre-Natal Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Community Yoga. They also do Yoga for stiff shoulders, if you have a job that force you to spend too much time seated working on a computer! Drop in classes for 9$ to foreigners and 6$ to Khmers. They also offer many different passes for regular users. Don’t forget also that with these money you are supporting a social enterprise and its important work!

Yoga in Phnom Penh

They offer also also Yoga retreats, workshops and other events, such as museum tours with Yoga! Regarding their social program, every month they give 75 outreach Yoga classes to more than 300 kids. Most of them come from underprivileged backgrounds and survived traumatic experiences, such as human trafficking, violence and sex exploitation. They use Yoga as an unique tool to heal and give back their deserved peace of mind! You can read more about their interesting and pioneer social works here. Find more info about their classes and events here.

Yoga in Phnom Penh

In Samata Health Wellness Studio you can find classes of Kundalini Yoga, Post-Natal exercises, Back Foundation Yoga, Pilates. Check here for info on their classes.

In The Place Fitness Center you will find: Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yoga Balance, Vinyasa Yoga, Yoga Flow, Yoga Therapy, Hatha Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Streching Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Power Yoga (more info here). If you are interested in Kundalini Yoga or Breathing Meditation, have a look at Kundalini Yoga Cambodia House.

Even at Showbox there are Flow Yoga classes every Tuesday and Thursday at 6.30pm and Yoga Basics every Sunday at 5pm. Check also Essence of Health for other possible treatments and healing practices.

Hope this list gave you some ideas on where to find Yoga classes in Phnom Penh. Relax and rewind with these opportunities to connect with your body and mind without getting out of town!

Read more

     

We Accept

© Copyright CamboTicket 2016