Can you guess where this picture was taken?
Did you guess Borobudur, Indonesia?
On the island of Java, Indonesia, stands a mountain with a thousand statues and surrounded by volcanoes. Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist stupa and temple complex, was abandoned for centuries, but no one knows why. In fact, it was forgotten for so long that it was hidden beneath volcanic ash and overgrown by thick jungle for hundreds of years. But now beautiful Borobudur is a hugely popular Buddhist monument in central Java and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To most people the Kingdom of Cambodia means the world famous Angkor temple complex, but Cambodia is so much more than temples, as our Director of Sales, Ian Woods, found out on his last visit there. We asked Ian for a few tips, and here’s what he had to say:
What advice would you give to someone visiting Cambodia?
If you planned to come to Cambodia just for a few days then think again. Visiting the Angkor temples is a must, of course, but don’t stop there. Venture further afield and you can discover a whole different world of deserted beaches, offshore islands, national parks and wild jungle.
Where can you go to avoid the crowds?
About 3 to 4 hours drive from Phnom Penh lies Kampot, a sleepy riverside town. My favourite hotel is the very inexpensive Natural Bungalows; the rooms are basic but are authentic to their surroundings. The incredibly helpful staff arranged a boat to take me along the river past fishing boats and tiny villages. Then in the evening I relaxed on the wooden deck of the open air restaurant built over the river, sipping an ice cold Angkor beer and watching the sun set behind the Elephant Mountains.
Where would you recommend for a romantic holiday?
I would say Nataya Coral Bay and Resort on Coral Beach, about 6km out of Kampot. It’s a little off the beaten track and is the perfect place for taking romantic walks along the long, white-sand beach. There is a stunning infinity pool, but you can’t beat swimming in the sea off the end of the 300m-long pier. The rooms are beautifully furnished and some even come with outdoor showers, all adding to the romantic experience. If you can drag yourself away from the resort, venture out into the countryside and immerse yourself in the local life among rice paddies, traditional stilted houses and water buffalo.
In your opinion, what is the best kept secret in Cambodia?
Undoubtedly, the beach resort of Kep – once the favourite resort of Cambodia’s elite and home to beautiful villas, until the serenity was smashed by decades of Cambodian fighting. Knai Bang Chatt Hotel was one such beachside villa that has been lovingly renovated into a luxury 11-room, high-end resort boasting stunning minimalist architecture. The restaurant is a former fisherman’s house with a pier that serves western and Khmer food. As for breakfast – fresh bread, pastries, tropical fruit and strong coffee along with amazing seaviews – the perfect way to start a day.
What else can you do there?
The surrounding area is fascinating. Rabbit Island offers a back to basics beach experience where you can lie in a hammock sipping fresh coconut juice. I also took a Jeep tour up the ragged road to the tragically beautiful ruins of Bokor Hill Station with its ghost town containing relics of a 1930’s resort. Then in the evening try the Crab Market, a collection of rickety but clean beachfront sheds that serve freshly caught steamed crab, the best I’ve ever tasted.
Well, not seen on the “street” exactly, but seen on the beach. . . at Railay Beach in Krabi, Thailand.
Lying in the sun can be hard work, and weary tourists can get hungry and thirsty in their quest for the perfect tan. But never fear, because Thailand’s famous street food will come to you wherever you are. . . even if you’re nowhere near the street.
These long-tail boats are outfitted with blenders, portable grills, and everything you could want. These local entrepreneurs will drive right up to the beach and serve you everything from milkshakes and fresh coconuts to chicken kebabas and banana-Nutella pancakes! Keep your feet wet and your baht dry.
Want to feel inspired in only 5 minutes? Here’s the true story of a football team that lived on a little island in southern Thailand called “Koh Panyee”. The kids had nowhere to play or practice. But they didn’t let that stop them!
For the past seven years, Longdy Mom has skillfully guided guests around one of the world’s top tourist destinations. . . Siem Reap, Cambodia. Although best known for the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex, there is a much more to see throughout the mountains and beaches of Cambodia.
We sat down with Longdy to ask him about his country, his favorite destinations, and his advice for first time visitors. Here’s what he had to say:
How long have you been a guide?
I’ve been a guide for the past 7 years. I wanted to become a guide because a guide is a kind of spokesman for the country. I am able to tell the world about my country, our people and its unique culture.
What languages do you speak?
What is your favorite destination?
My favorite destinations are Kulen Mountain and the beach in Sihanoukville.
Kulen Mountain is not just a natural site, it is also a historical site. There are certain things you have to see there:
- a beautiful waterfall with cool and clean water which is excellent for swimming;
- its “river with a thousand lingas” is a sacred river in Hinduism;
- a big Buddha on a big rock which was built in the 16th Century;
- it is also highly recommended and well known – especially among locals – as a great place to have a picnic.
What I like about Sihankouville is that the beach is very peaceful. The sand is white, the water is clean and there are beautiful bays and islands. Diving is good there. It is simply a nice place to escape from the crowds.
What is your favorite thing about being a guide?
My favorite thing about being a guide is telling and showing everyone about my customs, culture and history.
For example, we have unique traditions for our weddings. Also, we share the history of Cambodia, especially what happened during the civil war and the Pol Pot regime.
What advice would you give to tourists who are coming to your country for the first time?
- Please respect our culture by following our dress code, especially at the ancient temples. (Shoulders and knees have to be covered).
- It is not necessary to change any money into the local currency, Cambodian Riel, because the US dollar is accepted almost everywhere.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Try to learn some words in the Cambodian language, Khmer, such as “Hello” and “Thank you” and people will be very happy. The word for ‘Hello’ is “Sour Sdey” and the word for ‘Thank you is “Orkun.”
Thank you, Longdy Mom! We appreciate having you on the ICS team!
The filmmakers stayed on deck with the local Burmese, traveling to small villages along the river. The villagers were very entertained by the whole thing. . . following every move and enjoying being photographed and seeing their pictures on the camera screen. One little girl brought a handful of fruits. It seemed that all Myanmar fit in those small hands.
“One little girl brought a handful of fruits. It seemed that all Myanmar fit in those small hands.”
Would you like to experience something amazing?
In 1936, Citroën began producing a version of the Baby Brousse called “La Dalat.” This is the first car ever assembled, branded and produced in large scale in Vietnam. The most important parts such as engine, steering wheel, brakes, and suspension were imported from France, with the rest of the parts being produced locally. The model was a great success, partly because it was easy to customize since most of the parts were made in Vietnam.