Homestay at Smiling Gecko Farmhouse

Smiling Gecko GuesthouseThe Smiling Gecko Farmhouse is an NGO-run project located in the rural and naturally stunning Kompong Chhnang province, just 90 minutes’ drive from Phnom Penh in the small village of Sameakki Mean Chey.  Here guests are greeted with an upscale homestay/farmstay set in beautiful countryside.  The accommodation consists of traditional Khmer style homes fitted with air-conditioning and all the necessary creature comforts.  There is a large swimming pool and organically-grown produce cultivated on the farm (or sourced from local markets if not grown).  A number of local families also live on the farm giving it a real community feel.  Many of these villagers are from the poorest slums in Phnom Penh and have been given the opportunity to create a better life for themselves through the project.  Activities include visiting markets, interacting with local families, enjoying the beautiful rural landscape surrounding the farm, discovering unknown Angkor era-temples and enjoying a ride on the uniquely Cambodian Bamboo Train.

This is an authentic experience that’s ideal for families, couples or singles for one or two nights. While the lodgings are upscale, they are also built in a traditional style to provide a heart-warming off the beaten track encounter and a truly Cambodian experience that supports a very good cause.

Why not add a couple of days to your Cambodia holiday by staying at the Smiling Gecko Guesthouse?  World Discovery’s Cambodia offers a selection of sample tours.

Angkor Wat Floating Bridge Officially Open

A temporary floating bridge constructed from plastic bags was recently opened to allow restoration of the original stone moat crossing.  The bridge made from recycled plastic bags was built for the safety of tourists visiting Angkor Wat Temple, while the original causeway will be closed completely for experts from APSARA Authority and Sophia University to begin restoration work.  Mr. Heng Kim Leng, Director of the Department of Technical Support and Inter-sectoral Project, said the temporary floating bridge is suitable for use of up to 20 years.  The recycled causeway has six locations along it where visitors can stand and relax or take pictures.  The bridge was studied by APSARA and built by KTS Company.

Angkor Wat half marathon to support Cambodian charities

Angkor_Wat_runThe 19th international half marathon will be held at World Heritage Site Angkor Wat temple complex on Sunday 7 December.

During a press briefing Vath Chamroeun, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia said 4,000 professional and amateur runners from 65 countries had registered for the event so far.

The registration fee is US$45 for foreign athletes and US$5 for Cambodians and in addition to the half marathon 10km and 3km fun runs will take place.  Proceeds raised will be donated to the Cambodian Red Cross and support for land mine victims.  Last year’s race attracted over 7,500 runners.

“The event is vital to promote sports and tourism at the Angkor Wat temple,” said Vath Chamroeun.

Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s premier tourist attraction and welcomed 1.74 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of 2014, up 11% on the same period last year.

World Discovery have a range of tailor made options in Cambodia and the neighbouring countries of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.

Bugs Café Full of Creepy Delights

Bugs' CafeCAMBODIA – A new eatery simply named ‘Bugs Café’ has opened in Siem Reap to satisfy a desire for innovatively served insects –a snack commonly found across Asia. The recently opened café specialises in ‘insect tapas’, with former Casa Angkor Hotel operations manager Marjolaine Blouzard at the helm as co-owner of the establishment.

Responding to a growing demand from travellers looking for a single place to taste various insects, the café was set up and now serves everything from feta and tarantula samosas to Mediterranean feuilletés with ants, as well as dishes where the grubs are clearly on display. The green papaya salad is garnished with whole scorpions marinated in honey, ginger and lime juice. Making sure the dishes aren’t too scary, they also serve savory cupcakes and Danish pastries with them inside so the brain doesn’t make a visual connection.

Bugs Café offer a wide variety of insects prepared using traditional methods and modern cooking styles. The dishes are then pleasantly presented in a welcoming and friendly environment. The café also has an extensive cocktail and shake list to wash down the creepy crawlies.

‘e-bike’ Around The Temples Of Angkor

e-bikesWorld Discovery can now provide a new eco-friendly way to explore the temples of Angkor.  The new green e-bike is a completely pollution and noise free bike that allows easy independent travel.  These handy bikes provide a simple solution to the issue many people have of navigating around the extensive temple site.  The e-bikes are supported by a battery to keep them going for up to 40km – after which they can be plugged in to any 220V outlet and re-charged.  To simplify the process, these power-assisted bike do not require a motorbike licence, though riders must be 16 years or older.

With air pollution a growing problem in the larger cities and towns, the e-bike will make a positive contribution to the environment by cutting CO2 emissions.  They are the perfect solution for travellers who are environmentally aware and want to help make a difference.  With minimum physical effort and pride in being environmentally aware, everyone can now explore the monumental temples of Angkor

Cambodia – Airport to take-off

tra09_001_b03The Government of Cambodia has confirmed that the construction of the new Siem Reap International Airport will start in the first quarter of this year.

Construction of the airport has been delayed twice since the US$1 billion project was approved by the government in late 2010.  It has been designed to handle up to 15 million passengers annually.  In 2012, financial delays from South Korean banks backing the project meant that the two owners had to review their financial allocation for the airport.

The airport will be located in an area 60 km from Siem Reap – the gateway to the Angkor Historical Park.  This distance will minimize damage from noise pollution to the ancient Angkor Wat complex.  The facility will be able to accommodate larger aircraft to allow direct links to major European cities.

Cambodia – Spinning success

lotus-farm-by-samatoaA new sightseeing attraction near Siem Reap devoted to the lotus flower offers an insight into how this humble plant can be transformed into luxury clothes.

The Samatoa Lotus Farm is a unique workshop and it presents in an entertaining manner how the most ecological fabric on earth can be created from lotus fibre.  The product is now so popular that future production demands will necessitate the creation of an estimated 500 jobs within five years.   By-products of the plant can be used to create incense, drinks, lip-balm, bath products and jewellery.

The hand-woven jackets are exceptionally exclusive and can retail in luxury destinations such as Hong Kong for as much as US$3,000 per item. This enables the farm to connect the poorer people of Cambodia with luxury markets and create long-term employment with living wages. Visitors to the farm will see in detail the entire production process – from harvesting and spinning to weaving the final product.

Cambodia – Seal of approval

Official sealA gold seal of approval introduced by the Angkor Handicraft Association will ensure bargain hunters purchase authentic Cambodian souvenirs.  Many visitors to Siem Reap’s markets energetically bargain for Khmer arts and crafts unaware that some products originate from foreign countries. However, the recently introduced “Gold Seal of Authenticity” at the Angkor Handicraft Association’s “Made-in-Siem Reap” Market will give consumers greater peace of mind they are purchasing the real deal.  The market has 28 stalls offering a variety of locally made goods ranging from Khmer stone carvings, leather shadow puppets, traditional checked scarves, bags made from rice sacks, paintings, ceramics and water hyacinth plants expertly weaved into all manner of items including bracelets and placemats. The facility offers much more than a retail experience as visitors can also enjoy impromptu Khmer themed shows.

Cambodia – Caught on camera

387398-new-google-maps-earthGoogle has started mapping the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and the streets of the capital Phnom Penh.  The Angkor Archaeological Park covers an area of 400 sq-km and the mapping process is expected to take six months. After capturing Angkor and Phnom Penh, Google plans to fan out and photograph other destinations across the rest of the country for their online Google Earth website. As with other locations already mapped, the US technology giant will use special cars mounted with 360⁰ cameras to collect images.  Google and government officials said the initiative will help showcase Cambodian culture and raise awareness about the country as an attractive tourism destination. The Angkor complex is one of the greatest historical attractions on earth that dates back to the 12th Century. It was built by King Survayvarman II as his state temple and eventual mausoleum.

Image: screenshot from Google Earth of Angkor Wat

Cambodia – No smoke without fire

Cambodia has banned smoking at the Angkor temple archaeological site in order to promote the health and comfort of visitors and prevent forest fires.   The ban was formally imposed last month, but the Apsara Authority has stringently begun enforcing the new law, although authorities currently do not intend to fine those who break the ban.   Although an Angkor Park official said that he could not recall any serious fires caused by smoking within the park boundary, more than 10 hectares of forest near to the World Heritage Site complex burned in February during a blaze in Siem Reap’s Norkor Thom commune which spread to within a few kilometers of the ancient temples.  Over two million domestic and foreign tourists visit the site in Siem Reap in the northwest region of the country every year.   The Angkor region served as the seat of the Khmer Empire from around the ninth to the fifteenth centuries.