Death and Deliverance on Phnom Sampeau

Posted on March 22, 2012

Victims of the Khmer Rouge After our bamboo train adventure, our tuk-tuk shuttled us 18 kilometers southwest of Battambang to Phnom Sampeau (Phnom Sampou), a limestone hill shaped – as its name suggests in Khmer – like a ship, rising up from the flatlands of the countryside. The pastoral peacefulness of the place belies lingering secrets, both haunting and awe-inspiring. Phnom Sampeau is a boat-shaped hill in the Battambang countryside Even in the bucolic countryside, one cannot ignore the legacyRead More

Cambodia’s Bamboo Trains – Going! Going! Gone?

Posted on March 20, 2012

Bamboo trains are crude platforms running on abandoned tracks in rural Cambodia. Photo by Ryan Dayrit. “I wasn’t expecting this to be this fast!” I shouted – half in amazement, half in fear – over the loud, rhythmic clanking of metal wheels rolling on worn-out French-era railway tracks, as our shoddy platform accelerated through arid farmlands in the outskirts of Battambang. Amazement, because I didn’t expect a crude bamboo platform could go any faster than Manila’s railway trolleys, clocking speedsRead More

Battambang – Cambodia’s Colonial Gem

Posted on March 19, 2012

Colonial meets country charm at a corner French-era villa along the Sangker riverfront The road between Saigon and Siem Reap is an over-trodden route in the Banana Pancake Trail. So on our visit, we decided to look for a fresh destination along the way. Instead of heading straight to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, we detoured to Battambang, west of the Tonlé Sap lake. Lonely Planet recommends it for its architectural heritage, and as a scenic jump-off point to AngkorRead More

Dreamy Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Posted on February 22, 2012

Huy and Thom, my young guides, showed me the hidden treasures Beng Mealea is the Angkor people dream of. Unlike the central temples that are disappointingly crawling with tourists, these mysterious 12th century temple ruins, located less than two hours away from Siem Reap, remain wild, uncrowded and explorable – the way they were first discovered.This temple was opened to visitors only five years ago, when the area was completely demined. Beng Mealea has a similar plan to Angkor Wat, andRead More

From Dawn to Dusk, We Angkor Away!

Posted on February 20, 2012

Angkor Wat – the world’s largest single religious monument Angkor – no other word conjures the power of our imaginations as the name of Cambodia’s expansive temple complex, built by generations of Khmer royalty across centuries, an enigmatic landmark that draws travelers far and wide to its captivating epicenter – the Angkor Wat – most especially when its spired silhouette is graced by the velvety halo of dawn or dusk. So from sunrise to sunset, our tuk-tuk toured us around theRead More

Phnom Penh on a Plate: Golden Indulgences, Gut-Wrenching Genocide & Arachnid Appetizers

Posted on February 16, 2012

Loved the fried tarantulas at Romdeng! There’s a certain ambivalence to how I feel about Phnom Penh. Sure, compared to Saigon, Phnom Penh was equally appealing, and I honestly could not decide which city I enjoyed more. But one thing is certain: some of the city highlights may be hard to swallow. The Cambodian capital, according to legend, was named after a 14th century nun named Lady Penh, who found five buddha statues in a tree trunk floating down theRead More