Smaller and smaller

•October 23, 2010 • 3 Comments

When I told one of my friends that I have three flights on three consecutive days before I get to my final destination, Luang Prabang in northern Laos, he commented, “Yeah, and the planes must get smaller and smaller.” He was right… Here’s to relative scale a KLM 777 (Amsterdam – Kuala Lumpur), an AirAsia Airbus 320 (Kuala Lumpur – Vientiane) and a Lao Airlines ATR-72 (Vientiane, Laos – Luang Prabang, Laos). Luckily I’m not going any further. Otherwise it would have been by longboat (which is kind of true). Heart of Darkness anyone?

Here we go again!

•October 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Getting really psyched for my next trip to the places and people I love so much!

The initial itinerary looks like this:

Oct 24 fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; overnight at airport
Oct 26 fly to Vientiane, Laos; overnight there
Oct 27 fly to Luang Prabang, Laos
Nov 1 fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Nov 12 ten – twelve hours by road to Kep, Cambodia
Nov 17 fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Nov 21 fly to Amsterdam

(Thinking of visiting the temples of Angkor Wat? Don’t forget to check out my friend Savuth’s tuk tuk services and all the handy information available on our website Angkortuktuk).

See Laos with ‘See’

•August 4, 2010 • 2 Comments

In October, 2009, after spending two weeks in Siem Reap, I headed off to Luang Prabang, Laos, which was my first stop on my first visit to this beautiful and intriguing country. Because many people combine Siem Reap and Luang Prabang, I wanted to introduce you to the fantastic guide, and in the end friend, I had in Luang Prabang.

First the key details: His name is Bouasy Souliya (‘See’ for short) and he can be reached at seelaos [at] or +856-20-55872149.

Thanks to the advice and help of some fellow Tripadvisor travelers I got in touch with See

Continue reading ‘See Laos with ‘See’’

Thru Children’s Eyes

•November 10, 2009 • 1 Comment
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One of the kids shot this expressive photo of Vannak.

While in Siem Reap I gave Savuth and Sopiee’s three oldest kids – Odam, Kong Kea and Vannak – single-use cameras. Odam, a son, is about 8 or 9; Kong Kea, a daughter is about 7 or 8; Vannak, a son is around 6. I am a big believer in the value of encouraging creativity and am always curious to see what interests kids when they have a camera in their hands. Here is a selection of what they came up with: lots of friends, schoolmates and of each other, Mom and Dad, some nature and as you will see, it seems boys everywhere love power cars.

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Kong Kea celebrates at the fun fair and her baby sister Srei Kong cries

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Odam took this nearly perfect composition of his Dad, two sisters and other drivers

The full album:

Thru Children’s Eyes

(Thinking of visiting the temples of Angkor Wat? Don’t forget to check out my friend Savuth’s tuk tuk services!)

Angkor Future, Angkor Past

•October 29, 2009 • 10 Comments

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"Neak Pean is a tiny temple and was built by Jayarvarman VII. The King ordered the construction of a vast baray (reservoir) east of Preah Khan temple to provide water to its hundred-thousand support workers."

Some people may be wondering why there has been so little mention of the temples as that is the primary reason the vast majority of people visit Siem Reap. For one, there is so much information devoted to the temples that I don’t feel like I have much to add to that body of information and experience. The other reason is that we didn’t really visit many temples this time. I did go to see my favorites which included Banteay Srei (which I previously wrote about in The Lingas and the Lady), Angkor Wat, Bayon, Preah Khan, and Neak Prean. Unfortunately the visit to one of my real favorites, Ta Prohm, fell victim to my conviction I was leaving on Sunday when on Friday I discovered I was leaving on Saturday.

There were three distinct differences to my visits this year
Continue reading ‘Angkor Future, Angkor Past’

Beautiful Kompong Khleang

•October 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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'Main Street' Kompong Khleang

(Note: due to the slow Internet here in Laos the posting has less pictures in the body. At the end is the usual link to the full album which I thankfully uploaded in Siem Reap)

On each of my three trips to Cambodia I have visited a new place on Tonle Sap. On my first trip I started as most people do with the floating villages at Chong Khneas. Last year we did Kompong Phluk and this year I made it to what I thought to be the best of all three, Kompong Khleang.

Since I had never seen anything like any of these places before, I found the floating villages I first visited to be really interesting. Last year we visited Kompong Phluk which is a stilted village in a flooded forest as they say. I found that more interesting than the floating villages from the previous year because it was much less touristy with no floating cafes annex souvenir shop annex crocodile farm. I also had the impression, admittedly as a completely uninformed outside visitor but with decent intuition, that there was more sense of community there. And that would be logical as Kompong Phluk is a permanent village versus the floating villages that relocate with the ebb and flow of the lake.

So this year, Continue reading ‘Beautiful Kompong Khleang’

Education is the sweetest revenge

•October 25, 2009 • 7 Comments

Ponheary Ly-0 Meet Ponheary Ly, one of the most remarkable women I have had the honor to get to know on my visits to Cambodia. Ponheary can best be described as teacher, tour guide, human being and tireless fighter extraordinaire all in one. A survivor of the Pol Pot terror regime who lost many family members and experienced the suffering of those indescribable terror years first-hand, Ponheary has made it her life’s work to rebuild Cambodia thru education.

In short,

“After surviving the Khmer Rouge regime, she returned to Siem Reap with what was left of her family. During the time of the Vietnamese installed regime, Ponheary became a teacher and in secret learned how to speak French and English, a crime punishable by imprisonment. In 1998 when Cambodia held its own elections and the country once again opened up to Westerners, Ponheary became a much sought-after tour guide. But she never forgot her students, especially the disenfranchised village children who had no opportunity to go to school. She began leveraging her relationship with those who toured with her and accepted donations to get these rural village children into school.”

In 2005, one of Ponheary’s clients, the Texan Lori Carlson, was so moved

Continue reading ‘Education is the sweetest revenge’