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Road Report: Coastal Cambodia

By: Casey Nelson Posted: October-08-2010 in
Casey Nelson

In the last month I've had to make two complete driving loops from Phnom Penh, across southern Cambodia from border to border, using the main roads and passing through Kampong Trach, Kep, Kampot, Sihanoukville and Koh Kong. It's a nice time of year to drive the countryside. The country is pulling toward the monsoon season and rural Cambodia is lush and alive and buzzing with farming activity. The paddies are full of water and the season’s near mature rice stands tall and deep green.

Aliens in Vietnam

By: Gabi Yetter Posted: October-06-2010 in
Gabi Yetter

"How do you say thank you in Vietnamese?"

The border guard stared blankly at me, mumbled something (which wasn't "thank you") and gestured me toward the baggage scanner before we reboarded the bus from Phnom Penh to Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City).

I asked the same question of the officer who stamped my passport but he just gave me back my document and gestured me to move on.

No Logo

By: Tim Russell Posted: September-29-2010 in
Tim Russell

Once again, the powers that be have announced another competition to design a logo & slogan for Vietnam’s tourism industry, following the much-maligned Hidden Charm campaign. Presumably they have been casting admiring glances at Amazing Thailand and Malaysia – Truly Asia, and hope that the new slogan will act as a silver bullet and turn Vietnam into a major tourism player overnight.

Unique Wat Bo

By: Andy Brouwer Posted: September-27-2010 in
Andy Brouwer

Cambodia has only two major painted narratives of the story of Rama in Khmer art, the murals of the gallery that surround the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh and those that are found in the vihara of Wat Bo in Siem Reap. The story itself is Indian in origin and the Cambodian version, called the Reamker was localised and adapted, and can be found in bas-reliefs and carvings on the Angkor temples and in theatrical dance and shadow puppet stories.

Kep Crab Market: A Lament

By: Casey Nelson Posted: September-27-2010 in
Casey Nelson

I like Kep. The place is dullsville, but a pleasant dullsville, good for reading books, watching sunsets, riding the area a bit and lazing about the seaside. And of course there is the crab. They build monuments to crabs in Kep, and understandably so. Crab is to Kep what Angkor Wat is to Siem Reap (...or perhaps what the bars are to Phnom Penh.) The post-Bokor tourist industry in Kep is founded on crab-lunch-at-the-seaside. Until recently that was pretty much the only reason tourists came to Kep and is still one of the main reasons.

The Value of Tour Operators

By: Tim Russell Posted: September-24-2010 in
Tim Russell

Since the advent of online travel, observers have been making doomy predictions about the travel agent/tour operator sector, assuming that now consumers can make all their tour bookings online, they no longer need to go via agents such as ourselves.

There are several reasons why this hasn’t happened and probably won’t happen for a long time - one of them being that tour operators still get better rates from suppliers than direct customers ever could - but the chief reason was summed up neatly in an email we had from a recent customer.

St Michael Church, Sihanoukville

By: Casey Nelson Posted: September-20-2010 in
Casey Nelson

By comparison to most Cambodian provincial capitals, many with histories counted in the centuries, Sihanoukville is a very new city. Nothing but jungle and a few fishing camps prior to the 1950s, the town was first established in 1960 as an adjunct to the newly constructed deep water port. Few of Sihanoukville’s historically or architecturally significant buildings from the period between 1955 and 1970 still exist. In fact, as Sihanoukville only saw about 10-15 years of development before the country descended into war, there weren’t that many in the first place.

Bangkok to Saigon Cycle Challenge - The Final one

By: Symbiosis Travel Posted: August-28-2010 in
Symbiosis Travel

2010 will be the 10th and final year of running the Bangkok to Saigon Cycle Challenge. It remains a superb experience, but for us it is time to move on to new projects, so this is your last chance to experience this great cycle ride.

Please be sure to book early. To secure your place on the FINAL 2010 Bangkok to Saigon Cycle Challenge

Seasons of Angkor

By: Naomi Goldsmith-Dixon Posted: August-10-2010 in
Naomi Goldsmith-Dixon

With rainy season just around the corner, I took a trip up to Siem Reap to see what the amazing temple complex had to offer in low season. Most people prefer to visit during the dry season but the stunning temples and exquisite surrounding countryside are well worth a visit at any time of year, with each season offering a new perspective and completely different experience.

Fighting the Fear

By: Johhny Vagabond Posted: August-10-2010 in
Johhny Vagabond

It’s early morning and I’m on the motorcycle in very heavy traffic. I’m anxious, paranoid, and can’t stop thinking about crashing — I’m close to panicking. I know what the problem is but I don’t want to admit it. I’ve got the Fear.

Riding a motorcycle requires a certain amount of trust. Trust in your own abilities, in being able to spot trouble ahead and anticipate what others will do, adjusting accordingly. Trust in the physics that makes it possible to balance on two wheels at high speeds without falling off or the bike flopping over. Trust in your bike, knowing that the tires’ contact patch will still hold if you lean the bike just a few more inches because you came into that corner too hot.

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