Tag - Cambodia

Cambodian Isalnds

Cambodian Islands – which one to choose?

Posted on: October 9th, 2017

Southeast Asia has a lot of paradisiacal locations and relaxed places to wind down.

Get a break, chill by the water, catch some sun and have some cocktails!

Cambodia is no exception and there is no shortage of islands with postcard-like beaches in the kingdom. It is complicated to choose which one to visit if you have only short time… so which one should you pick? Here you can find some tips on where to go depending on your tastes…

Cambodian Islands

Typical island life… (in Koh Rong Samloem)

Probably the most famous one in the backpacker circles, Koh Rong certainly fulfill the requirements of a proper Southeast Asian island:

  • White sand  ✔
  • Clear blue waters ✔
  • Plenty of bars on the beach to have a cocktail ✔
  • Fresh seafood ✔
  • Stunning views, sunrises and sunsets ✔✔✔!!! 😀

Besides that, in the quietiest beaches you even have the chance of seeing the fluorescent plankton by night. Certainly an experience not to be missed.

Koh Rong is considered the party island, a kind of smaller sister of the Thai island of Koh Phangan, where thousands of young backpackers come every year expecting full moon parties and cheap alcohol. So yes, definitely here you can party a lot, if that’s what you are looking for, and meet plenty of other young travelers. But, being a big island, if parties is not your thing, you can still find other quieter places and secluded beaches if you can afford some more expensive options…

Anyway, check our article on Koh Rong for more info on the island.

Cambodian Islands

Waiting for your jump. (in Koh Rong)

For a smaller and less noisy island, you can find Koh Rong Samloem just near Koh Rong. More untouched and wild!

Have a look on our articles here and here for more info.

Accessible by slow boat or speed ferry. Check out CamboTicket’s website for all the boats’ options.

Cambodian Islands

Paradise, here I come! (in Koh Rong Samloem)

For an even less developed and more natural location, we can’t recommend enough the peacefulness of Koh Takiev, an island 45 minutes by fisherman boat off the coast of Otres (near Sihanoukville). There are only four or five guesthouses, one in each beach – the perfect place for some days without civilization: just you, the sand and the sea. The place called “Last Point” is highly recommended, you can even bring your own hammock or tent to camp! Find here more info on this island.

Cambodian Islands

 The meaning of solitude… (in Koh Takiev)

Not far away, just out of the Ream National Park a bit south from Otres, with only one resort and fewer tourists, Koh Thmei is for the ones looking for absolute silence and secluded location. A must if you want to finish that book you are carrying in your backpack since weeks or maybe for a romantic escape…

Other option is Rabbit Island, or Koh Tonsay, just a half hour ride by boat from Kep. Here the sand is more into yellow color but a must-see is the glowing-in-the-dark plankton that appears at night!

In case you have a really short time, visit Koh Dach (Silk island) just outside of Phnom Pen, for a relaxed lifestyle and pleasant countryside. Besides, it’s a great place to learn about silk farming and buy some souvenirs, like the traditional Khmer scarf (the Krama!) for your loved ones back home! Read our article about this island for more info on where to go and what to do.

Hope this post gave you some ideas for your trip through the islands of the south of Cambodia. If it’s white-sandy beach and clear blue water what you looking for, these are the places for you! Have a look at Camboticket website for different options on how to go to Sihanoukville, including bus+ferry tickets to some of the islands.

Write us at support@camboticket.com if you find any other interesting island! We will feature you in our Traveler Memoirs section and get a free ticket 😉

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Koh Ronh

Koh Rong – explore nature and party in one of the most famous island in Cambodia

Posted on: September 29th, 2017

It’s probably one of the most visited destinations in Cambodia, with white sand beaches and clear waters to swim, quiet jungles to trek and all-night-long parties to dance. Koh Rong, an island near the coast of Sihanoukville and one of the backpacker heavens in Southeast Asia, has plenty of activities to do and – even better – it offers a great atmosphere to doing nothing at all.

Koh Ronh

Cliché postcard kind of beach.

Koh Rong is just 25 kilometers off the coast, offering more than 20 beaches for your relaxed vacations by the sea.

To reach it you must travel to Sihanoukville. There, head to one of the ferry offices you can find on the road leading to Serendipity beach. The options to reach Koh Rong are many, from slow boats for 5 dollars per trip taking two and a half hours, to fast boats that cost 20 dollars (with return included on an open date – meaning you just have to confirm the ticket on the previous day you have decided to come back) and only take 45 minutes. You can find all the ferry options on CamboTicket website as well!

These ferries will take you to Tuich village, the main backpacker area with the highest concentration of guesthouses. Here you will find more options in terms of food and shopping (mainly small supermarkets with basic products) and the cheapest accommodations. From 4 dollars per night for a bed in a dormitory or 6 to 8 dollars basic room. It will be here that you will also find the most crowded and noisy atmosphere in the whole island, with bars playing music until late night and hordes of people spread in the beach in front.

Koh Rong

The piers on the beach of Tuich village.

If it’s quiet time what you are looking for, better options are available if you walk to the left (while looking in direction of the sea). Long beach is the next strip of sand (also known as Sok San or 7KM beach). After that one, 4K is probably one of the most beautiful in the whole island (also known as Long Set beach). Here you can find more secluded accommodation, fancy and well-built bungalows for about 25 to 35 dollars a night, just a 40 minutes’ walk from the main beach in Tuich village. In case you don’t want to walk the whole way you can also hire a local boat for about 2 dollars to drop you there. This is also one of the easiest spots to watch the fluorescent plankton by night, so prepare yourself for beautiful nocturnal swims with glowing water around you.

For other types of budget, around the island there are a lot of pristine beaches with resort-type of accommodation so, in case your wallet allows it, explore options and book beforehand (they will probably offer boat service to drop you on their specific beach)

Around the island many are the spots with great diving and snorkeling opportunities, and businesses offering these services can be found everywhere. For the ones more into exploring the nightlife, Tuich village is the place to go, with many bars such as the “Island Boys” offering drinks and loud (but not so good) music every night. A couple of nights per week there’s also one pub crawl happening, in addition to regular parties on Police beach where you can dance until morning – in fact, the end of the party is typically watching the incredible sunrise on the sea.

Koh Rong

A gift from the skies, during sunset time while walking towards 4K beach.

For food, you can find plenty of restaurants along Tuich village and along its beach, with most of the typical options of Western, Italian, Middle Eastern and Asian food available. There also plenty of vegetarian options as well, and if you are on a budget, head to the Khmer-owned “Nice Food” restaurant which is the only one having meals for around 2 dollars.

On a different note, it’s pleasant to see as well how the businesses catered for tourists are helping the community, with Friends of Koh Rong organization created by some of the owners supporting education and health care to the local population.

So if beach is what you are looking for, have a look on Koh Rong island for some really special days in your vacation. Camboticket has various options to go to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh or Kampot, including bus+ferry tickets (check theses here from Phnom Penh and here from Kampot).

 

 

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SEA party

Party hard on Wonderfruit festival in Thailand! ….plus other events in Cambodia and Vietnam!

Posted on: September 28th, 2017

Are you traveling or living in Southeast Asia, seeing photos on your instagram’s friends enjoying Burning Man in America, or remember all those great summer festivals in Europe with awesome bands and good vibes? Missing some wild festival, the concerts, the people?

Well… who told you can’t have it all in your journey through Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam? Check out some ideas of places to party and hear good music, meet interesting people and explore arts and culture!

SEA party

Main stage made out of bamboo from last edition of Wonderfruit.

If you are planning to be around Southeast Asia this December, don’t miss the Wonderfruit festival. Held near Pattaya from 14 to 17 December, on the fields of Siam Country Club. Think of beautiful crafted stages made out of bamboo in the middle of nature, wild performances and interesting art installations, concerts running 24 hours and dances watching sunrise or sunset. Besides that, this is an ecologically conscious festival so prepare yourself for some very sustainable days! It is a great way to inspire you in the fight against plastic waste. Besides music and arts, there will be a lot of workshops, talks and various healing activities such as meditation, yoga, massage, etc.

SEA party

Art installation from the last edition of Wonderfruit.

Even if you are not in Thailand don’t worry, plenty of buses are available from nearby countries such as Cambodia! It is way cheaper than a flight and not a hassle at all, especially if you go by night. It will be just a good night of sleep that will not even notice the bus journey!

Have a look on Camboticket website for options from Cambodia to Thailand. Either from Phnom Penh to Bangkok or directly to Pattaya. If you are in the north, check options on how to go from Siem Reap to Bangkok or directly to Pattaya.

SEA party

Serious glam camping happening on Wonderfruit site!

If you are planning to stop just in Cambodia, there are a lot of options as well. Start by checking the full moon parties that sometimes are organized on Cambodian islands such as Koh Rong. This is a great way to escape the crowds (and overrated music) of the famous full moon parties in Koh Phangan, Thailand.

When the high season arrives, prepare yourself for some serious beats in the jungle, and head over to Otres near Sihanoukville for the Kerfuffle party. This is a weekly event happening only when the monsoon stops and lasting until the beginning of next year. It is open-air in the middle of the jungle with psychedelic decoration and hippie crowd. Definitely a must try!

SEA partyA Kerfuffle party in Otres, Sihanoukville.

For both destinations have a look at the bus options Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. From there you can take a short tuk-tuk drive to Otres or a boat to Koh Rong. Combined tickets of bus+ferry are also available on the Camboticket website!

If your plan is to go to Vietnam, there’s also the Quest festival near Hanoi, on 10 to 12 of November! Have a look!

Hope this article got you some ideas of where to party in SEA and to which music and art festivals to go.

A trip to Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam does not mean staying out of the festivals season in Europe or America, there are great options available! So prepare your festival costume and camping gear to head out to Wonderfruit, Quest or any party in the islands 🙂

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Phnom Tamao

Phnom Tamao – an incredible wildlife center just outside Phnom Penh

Posted on: September 6th, 2017

Cambodia, being a tropical country, has a wide variety of wildlife species in its habit. Unfortunately, like many other countries, with the changes in natural landscape many animals are in risk of extinction. That’s why the work of wildlife conservation centers is so important: not only to save the animals, but also to educate the public and raise awareness. Beside, who doesn’t want to meet some animals in a setting where you are sure they are well treated?

Have a look at the wildlife center in Phnom Tamao. While having fun you will help support a project saving hundreds of animals from exploitation!

Phnom Tamao

A rescued elephant on her morning stroll with the caretaker.

They portrait it as a zoo, in order to attract a Khmer audience as well. However, the wildlife center is a large property with different zones for the various species, most of them recovering from being:

  • pets, which is illegal in Cambodia to have wildlife animas at home, especially from endangered species
  • trapped on illegal snares setup by hunters, often harming them to a great extent (for instance there is an elephant on site that lost his leg due to these traps)
  • exploited in zoos or other businesses with terrible conditions (e.g. tourism-based businesses where they are beaten up to stay calm for the tourists)
  • traded in the black market, often to harvest parts of their body for traditional medicines
  • rescued from human-to-animal conflicts, for instance a wild animal living near a village and destroying the farms or eating livestock, therefore making the local population wanting to hunt it down in order to protect themselves

Phnom Tamao

Lucky, a very happy female elephant enjoying some treats from visitors such as pineapple, corn or peanuts.

You can see and interact with different animals and learn more about them, curiosities about their lifestyle, their current situation in terms of risk of extinction, etc. Leopards, gibbons, bears, monkeys, tigers, otters… the list is huge! You can visit as a normal visitor or book a tour. The money will directly support the programs in order to treat the animals and, hopefully, release them in the wild. They will not release them f they can’t adapt to the wild conditions anymore, hunt by themselves, etc.

Phnom Tamao

A caretaker cleaning a prosthetic leg for Chhouk, a male elephant that lost his leg to an illegal hunting snare.

They also have tours available in the province of Koh Kong. Here you can stay in their main release center (more info here), and visit their ecotourism project in the village of Chi Phat where you can sleep in a homestay. There are many activities such as trekking, mountain biking and boat tours, enjoy beautiful nature, rainforest and waterfalls, breath some fresh air and enrich your trip with an authentic experience! Check here for more info on this.

If you are heading north, they also have a wildlife release center near Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap. Have a look at their website for more info.

Phnom Tamao

A cute gibbon looking for some human touch.

Camboticket has a variety of buses and vans to Koh Kong and Siem Reap! Why not getting yourself into nature and help an interesting project saving Cambodian’s wildlife?

If you are in Phnom Penh, take a break from the city and visit their wildlife center in Phnom Tamao! It is just on the outskirts of the city, in Takeo province.

 

 

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Areng Valley

The Areng Valley – adventure in the Cardamoms mountains

Posted on: September 1st, 2017

An hidden gem in the south of Cambodia

Areng Valley

Photo by Anthony Risse

To join the Areng Valley is already an adventure: after a few hours by bus, you must ask to the driver to stop… nowhere! It is just an intersection, with a sandy road going into the jungle.

Our motorbike drivers are already waiting for us, one motorbike per person. Then we drive across the mountains, the slippery road and the stunning landscapes of Areng Valley for almost two hours.

Areng Valley

Photo by Anthony Risse

The night is coming and we stop in the Areng riverside for our first camp: nothing luxurious, just a hammock under a plastic sheeting. Because of the rainy season, the level of the river is high, but it is still possible to take a natural shower inside.

The day after, we go again behind our motorbike drivers and stop in a local family house for breakfast. Since the foreigners are rare here the family is more than welcoming and the breakfast is transformed in a memorable exchange.

We finally say good bye to our brave motorbike drivers and start to trek. It is like entering a new world, with giant trees and wild sounds all around. After a few hours of hiking, we arrive at the camp on a big rock on the top of the mountain. The view on the valley in astonishing! We can see kilometers and kilometers of primary forest with a good chance to see wildlife in the canopy.

Areng Valley

Photo by Anthony Risse

In the morning, we are waken up by the gibbon’s call. We decide to follow the sound to have a chance to observe them. After one hour, we have a unique chance to meet two gibbons!

Later on, coming back in the valley, we walk until the riverside, where kayaks are waiting for us. One more time, the immersion is total, and we try to meet the famous Siam crocodile, until two flights of great hornbills.

Areng Valley

Photo by Anthony Risse

The Areng valley exploration is definitely one of the best adventure to do in south Cambodia!

Don’t hesitate to contact the Cambodian NGO ”Mother Nature Cambodia” and their project ”Wild Koh Kong” to organize your trip. Thanks to their work, the Areng Valley survived to a dam project.

Anthony Risse

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Work in Cambodia

Working in Cambodia – all you need to know!

Posted on: August 25th, 2017

It is common in Cambodia that travelers who at first came for some weeks, extended the visa to stay a bit more. Then months after month the ex-traveler notices that is indeed living in Cambodia and doesn’t want to leave. (True story for the one writing this!) Cambodia is, in fact, a very easy country to live and find work in. The cost of living is still relatively low while the opportunities increase. With a rising economy and a vibrant non-profit sector, working in Cambodia in companies or NGOs is easy. Alternatively, if your English language skills are good, a variety of schools have teaching positions available.

Following the article last week about the different visas and how to get them, we continue this series about living in Cambodia with some info about working in the kingdom.

Working in Cambodia

Phnom Penh is one of the capitals in Southeast Asia developing faster, with many opportunities rising in different sectors.

First, make sure you read all about the visa in our previous article about living in Cambodia, including the different sub-types, such as the ones adequate for business or entrepreneurs, people looking for job, etc.

Focusing on job search, the easiest way is to hang out with people of the sector of your interest. Many connections in Phnom Penh come from word of mouth and social relationships are crucial for that. In the meantime, check some of the websites with job vacancies, like Bongthom, Khmer24 or Khmeradz.

For volunteering, have a look at the online platforms focused on social and non-profit sectors, such as Idealist. Just reflect on the impact you will have on the people, especially if children are involved. In fact many of the short-term volunteering opportunities are actually proven to do more harm than good. For more on this topic you can read this article on the Guardian about volunteering and the orphanage industry in Siem Reap.

working in cambodia

One detail to take into consideration is not to “steal” it from a local person. It is better to find jobs requiring skills that are still not available locally and help the country to develop!

One of the most typical jobs for a foreigner is teaching English in local schools. Usually you don’t need certificates or teaching experience, but you are still influencing the children’s education and having an English language certificate will definitely raise your chances of a better salary. If your skills allow you to teach something different maybe it is more adequate for you and helpful for the locas. They will need more a teacher of computer literacy or other specific vocational training than another English teacher!

Other thing to pay attention to is the work permit. The cost is 130 dollars for this year. Last year it was 100 dollars and, in case you were already working here, they will charge that as well. In addition you will have to pay 30 dollars for the medical paperwork. More info here, where you can also register yourself if needed.

In case you are a freelance, have a look at our article on available coworking spaces.

Opening your own business is an option as well: a shop, bar/restaurant or something more “serious”. You have to register it, get your taxes right and an employee quota registration (check the government website for more info). There are some good news though: Cambodia is one of the few countries where foreigners can own their business, even without a local partner. However, a Khmer person that helps you out with the paper work is recommended, especially if your tolerance to bureaucracy is low!

working in cambodia

In case you want to open your own businesses, besides the obvious rules there are some little ones to remember. For example, the name of the company has to be translated in Khmer and displayed above the English name.

We hope to have clarified some of the common doubts about living and working in Cambodia. If you are traveling by and thinking of staying longer, go for it! You will enjoy the relaxed Khmer lifestyle, contributing to the growth of the country.

 

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Visa in Cambodia

Travelling or Living in the Kingdom – Visa in Cambodia, all you need to know!

Posted on: August 9th, 2017

Bureaucracy sometimes can be one of the biggest barriers to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world. The uncertainty of not having a job or another way of receiving a stable income can be frightening for some. The cultural shock or the difficulty in understanding the language and local procedures can be a challenge. Adding to these the hardships of bureaucracy is a bit too much.

Hopefully this article will help you! It is the first one of a series trying to clarify some of the most common questions if you want to travel or live in Cambodia. This first one is about the visa policies, so without further ado let’s jump right in…

 

 

 

 

If you come as a traveler from Europe, tourist visa can be purchased on arrival at the airport or land border crossing for 30 USD. You just need to have a passport valid at least for six months and one free page. Also don’t forget to bring one passport-sized photo to the immigration counter. In alternative, you can also arrange it before-hand in any Cambodian embassy for the same price, or online for 40 dollars on this government website. This type of visa is valid for one month, single entry, and can be extended only once for another month. It costs 45 dollars in most of the agents dealing with visa extensions.

Are you from a country in Southeast Asia? Then you can actually get this one month tourist visa for free. Except for Thais who get only two weeks, Filipinos who get three weeks, and Burmese who get to go through the normal process as every other country.

If you are originally from Nigeria, Sudan, Sri Lanka or most of the countries in Middle East we have bad news. Since no agreement for visa on arrival was made you will have to get a visa in advance in a Cambodian embassy.

In case you are planning to stay longer to be able to travel to more places, relaxing in one of the many chilling spots in the country (for instance Kampot or the islands will be difficult to abandoned after just a few days), the best option is to go for the e-class visa.

It’s actually only five dollars more than the tourist visa, and with the possibility of longer extensions. So for 35 USD you will be able to extend indefinitely for one, three, six or twelve months. The six and twelve months extensions have also the advantage of being multiple entries. You will have the chance to travel to nearby countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

In order to renew your e-class visa, the best way is to go to one of the many agents in any town. They will take care of the process for you in exchange of a fee. Expect to pay around 50 dollars for one month visa extension, 80 for three months, from 150 to 200 dollars for a six months, and 260 to 300 dollars for a one year visa extension.

While before there was just one kind of e-class, this year were introduced four different sub-types of this visa:

If you come to work for a NGO, you can get a b-class visa which is free. However, since it is only available for some NGOs, better to ask your new employer for details.

Hope this article helped you understand a little bit better how visas in this country work.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to travel or live in Cambodia! And, of course, don’t be afraid to check on internet for further questions. There are a lot of forums and groups on Facebook for expats living in the Kingdom where you’ll get answers to your questions. Happy travels!

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Cambodian book shops: where to find your perfect travel companion!

Posted on: August 2nd, 2017

With so many relaxing places where hanging hammocks by the river wait for you, or empty kilometers of white sand ask you to sit down, no wonder Cambodia is a great country to catch up with your readings.

In case you haven’t bring enough books from home, don’t worry, this article is for you. Here we list some of our favorite bookshops along the kingdom!

Reading room at Petra café in Battambang.

In Phnom Penh you can head to Monument Books, which has one of the widest selection of titles available in the country. From fiction to non-fiction, books in different languages as well as about Southeast Asian region. In town they have shops on Norodom Boulevard and Phnom Penh International Airport, besides others in Cambodia, as well as Laos and Myanmar. Also to purchase new books, Royal Bookstoreon street 454, is a great option, as well as to check out their collection of CDs, DVDs and magazines.

To buy second hand books, a valuable option is Boston Bookson street 240, with a lot of old books and the bonus of having a nice café to start your new book right away. Have a look as well at Bookshouse Cambodia on the corner of 390 and 113. Also for used books, on street 240, D’s Books is an endless hole for bookworms, with so many titles for you to search and get lost. If you still have not found the book you want, try Bohr’s Books on Sothearos Boulevard, with a wide range of new and used books at reasonable prices.

If you are in Siem Reap, there are two shops of the chain Monument Books, one in the ground floor of the Taprohm Hotel and other on the departures lounge of the Siem Real Angkor International Airport. Closer to the city centre there is another shop of the chain D’s Books (near the Pub street), the La Siev Phov bookshop on Wat Bo road. The New Leaf Eatery has not only a lot of used books, but also a comfortable restaurant/café and they donate part of their profit to charity. Not far away you can also have a look at the Peace Café, on the river road 172. They have a book exchange policy, delicious food and interesting workshops and classes (yoga, meditation, etc).

Being probably the most chilled town in the country, Kampot has lot of great places to read. Believe us when we say that even the least interested person will become a reader! Hammocks in comfy guesthouses near a river, fresh breeze and beautiful sunsets..Unbeatable!

So, in case you don’t have a book yet, check the Bookish Bazaar near the old market area, with lots of crowded book shelves (supposedly with more than 7000 titles!) and choose your companion for the next days. They accept exchanges as well (you deliver two books to receive one for free) and have an art gallery, top-quality pastries and Italian delicacies. Other option is the Kepler’s Bookshop, on the other side of the old market, with a lot to choices as well.

If you are more a beach person, and we highly advise you to be while traveling the Khmer coast, you can also find the Q&A Book Café on Mithona Street in Sihanoukville. It has thousands of different books in a great variety of languages and you can buy, sell or exchange them. They also have a restaurant with Khmer, Vietnamese and Western food! Don’t forget to pass by Casablanca books, the first bookshop that opened in town, with a huge variety of genres and languages. Find them in the Mick & Craig guesthouse, on the road to Serendipity beach nearby the golden lions. Try also the Idle Hour Bookshop and Library on the Greenhouse Effect, Otres 1, with a great beach to lie down and enjoy your book.

Another town in Cambodia where you will be able to visit some bookshops with English titles is Battambang. Our favorite is probably Petra café, near the Borey Thmei mall, the first library café in town and with a very local-feeling, not touristic at all. On street 3, near the Chhaya hotel, check the books at the Smiling Sky bookshop, to buy or exchange. There you also find from souvenirs to DVDs, from postcards to a great cup of coffee.

Hope we convince you to dig in some readings while traveling in Cambodia. It’s definitely a country with many places worth stopping for a while to chill, browse a bookshop for a new book or finish that one you started already  but couldn’t finish yet. Happy readings!

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Ratanakiri

Going north, on the road to Ratanakiri

Posted on: July 31st, 2017

07.00. Time to start leaving Siem Reap after a great night which included a culinary midnight snack: Tarantula with Garlic. It has been a great pleasure. We booked a ticket to BanLung with Camboticket. With our (way too heavy) backpacks we left our hostel to the bus station.  One of their drivers was waiting at the corner to guide us into the small street where the pick-up was located, very handy!

Before we entered the bus, the driver shared his ‘special not bumpy route’ with us and got us a bottle of cold water. What a service. Despite a Chinese woman constantly hugging us, the trip was quite good and to, our surprise, not bumpy at all. We had a great view from the bus, driving past the river and some rice fields was a nice switch from the usual bus ride.

After a cuddly and cosy 8-hour bus drive we arrived in Ban Lung, the capital of Ratanakiri. Our bus dropped everyone at the hostel they were staying, except for us. Trying to get him to bring us to D.T. Guesthouse by pointing out its place on the map, the driver just smiled awkwardly and shoke his head. “No, no”. Aah, No, no? Amazing. Right when the rain caught us. Literally one second of rain was enough to get soaked. First thing we saw was some kind of stairs going down into the bush. Seemed like a great idea to just ran down. And hella sure it was!

The hostel we found at the bottom of the stairs had some super helpful employees who immeadiatley offered to bring us to our hostel with their car (for 1$ of course). However, cheaper than every tuktuk and better than walking for 30 minutes. Actually, there is like one tuktuk in this whole town! Tourist paradise as the only people screaming at you are young children that only want you to wave back. No people trying to get you into their tuktuk or jewelry shop. First impression of BanLung: great people and fairly calm!

Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri

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Cambodian rock

Tune into Cambodian Rock and Roll!

Posted on: July 20th, 2017

First of all, please click here and listen to a song while reading the article 🙂

So, now that we caught your attention (and that you have your ears filled with good music) let’s start!

You may or may not know that this kingdom in the 60s was famous for its music. Local musicians were listening to what was happening in the west and combining it with traditional Khmer sounds.

A unique music style was born. It combined the best of both worlds, a kind of Asian psychedelic garage rock, taking inspiration from the surf rock of bands such as The Beach Boys or the psychedelic tunes of Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane. Basically an oriental version of the hippie movement!

Cambodian rock

A compilation of Khmer rock and roll.

In case you are into this style of music, or just want to dive in Cambodian culture, you can listen to this beautiful compilation of some of the best sounds of the Khmer 60s.

This brings up an interesting story, since an American tourist travelling in Cambodia managed to buy some old cassette tapes and made this album!

We can’t forget that most of these musicians were killed in the late 70s and this music destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. This period has been almost forgotten until recently.

One of the reasons of this revival is the movie ‘Don’t think I’ve forgotten’, by John Pirozzi, about the Cambodia’s lost rock and roll. You can have a look at the trailer here or you can watch it online or download it in the movie’s website here.

Cambodian rock

Marketing materials for the documentary movie that brought attention to this genre.

If we have to highlight one singer, there is a name from that period who is above all the others. Sometimes called ‘the King of Khmer music’ or ‘The Golden Voice’, Sinn Sisamouth (borned in 1932, executed by the Khmer Rouge in 1976) is unavoidable. He’s a kind of mixture between Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra with, of course, an Asian twist. He was actually a nurse but soon became the most famous Cambodian singer. Both common people and the Royal family loved him and became a protégé, often performing for the Queen Kossomak Nirirath.

His prolific nature as a singer-songwriter can’t be denied, as we can see in this list of 1200 songs in his Wikipedia discography page. He often got inspiration by western songs and created beautiful renditions of classics we may recognize from western musicians but probably looking even better in Khmer!

One of our favourites is definetely ‘Quando quando quando‘ from an old italian singer.

Cambodian rock

An example of cover for one of the many Sinn Sisamouth’s albums.

The second most famous artist of that period is the singer of the song at the beginning of this article. A performer called Ros Sereysothea was first a poor lady from a rural background and discovered while singing in weddings. She was then able to achieve the status of Queen of Khmer Rock and Roll. Some examples of songs are ‘Jam 10 Kai Theit‘ or ‘Penh Jet Thai Bong Mouy (Ago Go)‘.

Another musician from this period is Yol Aularong (check an example of song here or, our favourite, ‘riding a cyclo‘). The New York Times describes him as “a charismatic proto-punk who mocked conformist society”. What’s better for an iconoclast Cambodian musician from the 60s?

Another good one is Pan Ron with songs such as ‘Rom Ago Ago‘ or ‘Kanha 80 kilo‘ that were typically a mix of rock, twist, mambo, jazz or folk.

Also worth listening is Mao Sareth, a singer from Battambang province (example of song here).

However, as we mentioned above, all of these musicians were killed during the Khmer Rouge. All but one, Sieng Vanthy, who said to the Khmer Rouge she was a banana seller and managed to survive.

A big cultural difference compared to the one of the reign of King Norodom Sihanouk. He was a music lover, played saxophone, was a jazz fan and promoted this new mix of east and west culture, old and new.

Cambodian rock

Some other album covers from the sixties.

But of course, this is not only an article to look at the past, butalso to remember the present. Noawadays many bands are bringing back this style of music, adapting it to contemporary sounds while mainting the energy this 60’s rock and roll was famous for.

One of the current bands, Cambodian Space Project, have some songs you can listen to online. Check them out here or here.

While in Cambodia, you can also attend one of the very energetic performances of Kampot Playboys or of Bokor Mountain Magic Band. Listen here and here, the latter one performing a very famous song from the sixties.

Based in California, Dengue Fever, a Khmer-American band, is probably the most famous of this rising genre. They are bringing back the Cambodian rock and roll from the 60s and coating it with sonorities of the present.

Have a look on this appearance of them in a famous radio show.

Cambodian rock

Baksey Cham Krong, a band from that period, sometimes described as the first one to appear.

Cambodia was not the only country where this style of music was rising. Neighbors Thailand and Vietnam also developed their own style of music, mixing it with influences from the west.

Hope this article will make you listen more local music! While travelling, learn something from street musicians and do not be afraid to teach to local kids how to play. So many possibilities of collaboration!

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