Archive for the ‘cambodia’ Category

Show & Tell

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

As camera-tooting visitors to Cambodia are drawn to the soaring temple of Angkor, the world’s top photo journalists pass on their craft to the next generation.

Written by Ron Gluckman Photos by Erik Almas

cambodia slide01 Show & Tell

The 19th-century French naturalist Henri Mouhot was among the first explorers in the modern era to marvel at the majestic temples of the ancient Khmer empire (802–1431), some of which he found crumbling beneath a dense canopy of banyan trees and tropical vines in northern Cambodia. Mouhot is credited with discovering Angkor, which 900 years ago may have been inhabited by half a million people.

cambodia slide02 Show & Tell

Of course the 1,160-square-mile Angkor, which contains more than 90 major temples and other buildings, was never totally lost, and several Europeans carved paths to the remote shrines before Mouhot. Yet the young French explorer did much to popularize what is widely regarded as an ancient world wonder.

cambodia slide03 Show & Tell

In recent years, millions of travelers have followed in Mouhot’s footsteps, cameras in hand to shoot Angkor Wat at sunset, touring temples, libraries, and fields still sustained by 900-year-old moats. Visitors still travel on the very same stone roads and bridges that once linked this Khmer capital to an empire that stretched to Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand.

cambodia slide04 Show & Tell

Many fly directly to the international airport in nearby Siem Reap, a riverside town featuring fine Cambodian cuisine, which is often likened to Thai food but tends to be more sour than spicy. Scores of restaurants like Abacus Café and Madame Butterfly, set in renovated traditional wooden houses, have revived traditional recipes, as well as concocted daring Khmer fusion dishes.

cambodia slide05 Show & Tell

Siem Reap also lays claim to considerable sophistication, evidenced by the presence of the 24-suite Amansara, a member of Amanresorts. Fashioned from King Norodom Sihanouk’s guesthouse, Amansara features a spa and one of the chain’s signature slate-surfaced pools.

cambodia slide06 Show & Tell

Siem Reap has emerged as a bustling regional arts center. A dozen local galleries have created art walks. Free guides to the various walks are available from the McDermott Gallery, run by John McDermott, a local photographer regarded as the Ansel Adams of Angkor.

cambodia slide07 Show & Tell

Picking out the star photographer from the crowds at the Angkor Photography Festival, held amid the locale’s ancient temples, is surprisingly easy. The six-foot, five-inch Gary Knight would stand out in any crowd. Famous for his fearless coverage of the world’s worst conflicts, from Bosnia to Darfur, Knight helped found the festival.

cambodia slide08 Show & Tell

The event was born in 2004, during a reunion of photographers who covered the decades of fighting in Cambodia dating back to the Vietnam War. “What really sets this festival apart is its noble spirit, its unique outreach,” says Roland Eng, a festival director. “It’s not just about photography and arts, but about humanity and compassion. This is like a gathering of old friends, all coming together to help Cambodia.”

cambodia slide09 Show & Tell

For scores of young photographers like Bangkok’s Satirat Dam-ampai, the Angkor Photography Festival offers them the rare chance to mingle with and be mentored by their idols. “I came here because these are legends, and you can learn so much from them,” she says.

cambodia slide10 Show & Tell

Growth of Siem Reap has come only in the last decade or so, according to Richard Yap, former manager of the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, a dazzling colonial-era property that played host to the early temple explorers of the 1930s. “The airport opened in 1997,” he recalls, “and it really took off.” Convenient to Angkor are more ruins, which are mostly blanketed in jungle.

 cambodia slide11 Show & Tell

Tom Marchant, the founder of travel website Black Tomato, can organize a four-day itinerary that includes a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat; micro-lighting (motorized hang gliding) over the jungle; and a tour of Koh Ker, an ancient Khmer capital, that ends with an overnight stay in a private camp.

cambodia slide12 Show & Tell

Didier Faraud, who has been a fixture in Cambodia since 1993, runs Siem Reap’s idyllic Heritage Suites Hotel, as well as Heritage Adventures. “Angkor is a magical destination that can be as luxurious or rustic as anyone desires,” he says. “Most visitors want to do something no one has ever done.”

cambodia slide13 Show & Tell

That’s exactly what Knight wanted to accomplish when he first gathered here with some cherished colleagues: to experience something rare and distinctive in a mystical place, which is still as mystical as the site Mouhot came upon a century ago.

cambodia slide14 Show & Tell


> Angkor Photography Festival
> Amansara resort
> Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor
> Heritage Suites Hotel
> Abacus Café
> Madame Butterfly
> Heritage Adventures

This guest post was orignally published in Lexus Magazine.

Possibly related posts:

  1. Show Their Soul with Black And White
  2. Eight Hours in North Korea: a Cold Reality Check (part 2)
  3. Festivals Around the World 2008

What in the World?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Read on for your weekly dose of world news! Asia On Monday, a U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia sentenced the Khmer Rouge’s chief jailer to 19 years in prison. The sentence was originally 35 years, but 11 years were shaved off for time served and another 5 for illegal detention in a military prison. [...]

Migration Mark explores Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Video Documentary 2010

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

This is my first amateur attempt at producing a video in the form of a short documentary.  The video showcases a few markets, bug eating, things to do, and other culinary adventures in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  It could still use some work, and I could work on my narrative, but it’s my debut attempt.

If you have 10 minutes I would be grateful if you would check out this video and let me know your thoughts or ways to improve.  Thanks a lot!

I plan to start making other 10 minute or less documentary videos in different cities around the world.

Thank you so much for watching and I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions!

-Migration Mark

Rules of Engorgement: Cambodian Breakfast

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Com Tam (rice with fried pork and pickles), Khmer Noodles

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia, at Angkor Wat eating with the Tuk Tuk drivers

Cost: 4000 KHR Cambodian Riel each dish ($0.95 USD)

Food at Angkor Wat

Khmer Noodles

Khmer Rice and Pork

The tourist catered cuisine in Siem Reap near Angkor Wat, doesn’t always appeal by both taste and budget to a voracious food connoisseur.  Fortunately, the local tuk tuk drivers who constantly transport tourists from temple to temple need to eat too.  The driver’s laughed as they hinted that we would unquestionably get sick if we partook.  Our general instincts and African experienced stomachs overruled the driver comments and soon our palettes were filled with a grilled pork cutlet over rice, and rice noodles suffocating in a delightful chili paste.  The salty pork cutlet was expertly complimented by a cabbage and cucumber sour pickle and a sweet chili sauce.   The noodles were equally pleasing and covered in an herbaceous chili sauce with the same accompanying pickle.  Our stomachs held up and the dishes were a smashing delight!!!

-Migration Mark

9 Survival Tactics for Phnom Penh

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

At times, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, can feel a bit hectic and maybe a little intimidating.  I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and while there learned various survival tactics in order to make visiting Phnom Penh slightly easier and more manageable.    Some of these survival tactics might even teach you a few lessons on how to be native in Cambodia.  In any way, have an awesome time in Phnom Penh; a city that I consider to have a great mixture of entertainment, delicacies, humor, and great folks.

IMG 0587 9 Survival Tactics for Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

1.  Tune Out a Little

It is utterly unavoidable that all operators of all forms of motorized transportation will pursue you for a ride.  Motorcycles will pass, notice you are a foreigner, and then reverse in an attack to secure a job.  If you say “no” they will smile and ask again as if you didn’t hear them, over and over.

Survival: If you don’t want to eventually go slightly crazy, nod negatively with a friendly smile on your face continuously.

2.  Chat with Locals

Most locals in Phnom Penh are genuinely friendly and more than willing to converse.  Around the main tourist sector some of the touts have become a little dodgy but are still very friendly.

Survival: Avoid the tourist areas and chat or ask for advice from local Cambodians.  Many are awesome to talk to and speak English surprisingly well.

3.  Have Food to Give Away

There are many beggars in Phnom Penh who hold out their hands and request some form of monetary currency, US Dollars being the most widely begged.  I don’t particularly always support the giving of money as it can be highly misused.  I however do support helping others if they really need a basic necessity.

Survival: Have some form of food or snacks (bananas, nuts, jackfruit) readily available to distribute to the hands that ask for the US Dollars.

IMG 0143 9 Survival Tactics for Phnom Penh

Traffic Phnom Penh

4.  Cross the Streets

At rush hour, there is an always present flow of steaming traffic with few traffic lights, leaving next to zero options to cross from side to side.  One night I failed my brilliant idea to cross the street on foot by sprinting and then merging myself into the traffic…didn’t work.

Survival: A group is the best way to cross the street.  Stay huddled and move from one lane to the next (be in the middle).  If you are alone, slowly proceed one step at a time.  If someone is about to hit you, hold out your hand and always attempt to make eye contact.  Get across the street slowly and cautiously.

5.  Afternoon Coffee Break

With the French influence (similar to relaxing in Vientiane Laos), coffee shops in Phnom Penh serving stout brews are abundant.  When you order an afternoon coffee, a complimentary pot of Chinese tea is also served to you (or 6 pots in my case).  Not a bad deal in my opinion.  Many coffee shops will also offer bread or a delicious dim sum Chinese steamed bun known as Banh Bao which is a bit of a comfort food for me.

Survival: To remain calm and collected amidst a backdrop of chaos, enjoy a quiet afternoon coffee and tea.  The combination’s of caffeine will always result in positive effects.  I frequented a place right across the street from the Russian Market where many coffee houses await.

IMG 0173 9 Survival Tactics for Phnom Penh

Afternoon Tea

6.  Accommodation

My stay in Phnom Penh was indeed a pleasant one and fit well within my designated budget.  Around the Boeung Kak Lake, there are numerous guest houses offering satisfactory lodging options.  I stayed at the No Problem guest house at the end of Street 93.

Note: The lake is being developed and filled in with land and may not be around for too much longer.

Survival: Get a room with a friend or two on the Boeung Kak lake front for about $4 and you most likely can sustain living life for quite a sum of time.

7.  Food Partaking

I wasn’t going to let this article slip away without the mention of a few of the delicacies that are imperative to stuff.  Local Cambodian food is exquisite and ranges from delicious ginger chicken to coconut fish curry and bitter melon pork.  The sauces and chili sauces accompanying are equally seductive.  Num Pang, or baguettes stuffed with pate, luncheon meat, vegetables, and sauces, are superb and resemble the Laos version of the sandwich.  The famous tamarind juice from the Kandal Market was unbelievable.

Survival: Try anything and everything especially if it looks good and the eatery is hopping with business.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Num Pang (Baguette Sandwich)- Located all over the city.  For an awesome experience go to the Wat Phnom Garden round-a-bout near the Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge.
  • Amok Trey- Stunning fish in a coconut blended curry.  Find this dish all over the city.
  • Cha Knyey- Braised chicken with pepper and loads of ginger.  I ate this dish in the Old Market (Psah Chas).
  • Nom Banhchok (Cambodia Noodles)-  Rice noodles with vegetable and awesome sauce and chilies.
  • Tamarind Juice: Get lost in Kandal Market and ask for it!
IMG 01291 9 Survival Tactics for Phnom Penh

Num Pang Sandwich

8.  Heat Stroke

The afternoon sun in Phnom Penh penetrates with a brute force.  It can dehydrate you and take advantage of you with haste.  Don’t be a victim to the harsh rays.

Survival: water, hat, sunscreen, hydration, rest, coconut juice, tamarind juice

IMG 0068 9 Survival Tactics for Phnom Penh

Coconut Hydration

9.  Money Exchange

The US Dollar and Cambodian Riel (KHR) are interchangeable currencies in Cambodia.  However, on the street, the exchange rate is lower than what local banks and exchanges offer.

  • Street/Business:       $1=4000KHR
  • Bank or Exchange: $1=4155KHR to 4200KHR (at our visit it was 4190KHR)

Ultimate Survival (Note: figures are when I was in Phnom Penh in Jan 2010):

  1. A standard meal on the street will cost $1 or 4000KHR
  2. Instead of using $1, exchange it at a convenient exchanger for 4190KHR
  3. If you exchange $20 you will get 83,800KHR which the banker will round up to 84,000KHR
  4. You will have made 4000KHR, or more importantly a Khmer LUNCH
  5. Do this everyday and it is the ultimate survival tactic for Phnom Penh
IMG 0444 9 Survival Tactics for Phnom Penh

Cambodian Riel and US Dollar

Migration Mark had a glorious time in Phnom Penh discovering awesome things and researching migrationology.

How To Be Native in Cambodia

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

IMG 0570 How To Be Native in Cambodia

From spending 24 Hours at Angkor Wat to aimlessly walking around the capital of Phnom Penh, in order to fit in to the Cambodian lifestyle, you will need to follow a few or possibly all of these tips.

1.  Parkas and Gore-Tex

If you venture outside or somewhere onto the street, whatever you do, don’t forget the North Face down parkas.  Locals don’t appreciate the glorious sunshine.  I saw numerous people rocking the latest in mittens, leggings,  scarves, and long johns.

2.  100cc Family Vehicle

The Dodge Caravan is no longer the family of 5 vehicle of choice.  Rather a family of five or six (and 2 or 3 generations at that) comfortably manages to finagle their way onto a 100cc Honda motorbike and cruise from place to place as a routine activity.

3.  Guerrilla Marketing

Local Cambodians have taken guerrilla marketing to the highest of world levels.  If you have something to offer, offer it at a price (includes advice).  If you have a 2 seater motorbike, ask everyone if they need a ride, even if it’s obvious they don’t.  If you have scissors, offer a haircut.  If you have hands, just start massaging unsuspecting victims.  And by the way, getting rejected 5 or 6 times is absolutely “NO” reason to give up.

Phnom Penh

4.  Wear Pajamas

This mostly goes to females and is directly correlated with the winter gore-tex.  Women love pajamas.  It is a frequency to see ladies dodging across traffic on streets, riding side saddle, or vending, all while  sporting the latest in Berenstain Bears or Digimon.  If you leave the house, don’t forget to “NOT change,” or if anything, add a parka, mittens, and a scarf to the repertoire.

5.  Invent the Remix

You better be up on the latest rap and pop songs, because they need to be remixed in Khmer, ASAP.  As I heard very familiar rap songs blasting on buses and in restaurants, very unfamiliar voices were projected.  If you are good at remixing, a video must also be produced, like Ghost Ride the tuk tuk in Bangkok.

6.  Overload Your Vehicle

If you have a truck, it is mandatory to load it to capacity, then add a few more tons of cargo, then add a couple family vehicles on top (100cc’s), and then add a couple generations of families to the very top.  This must be done even if no one really wants to go anywhere.  After completion of loading, you can get more advice from how to successfully drive a car in Indonesia.

CambodiaTruck How To Be Native in Cambodia

Overloaded Truck in Phnom Penh

7.  Play House

Get comfortable on microscopic tables and chairs and sometimes using tiny utensils or other “play house” essentials.  The toy food sets and furniture I played with when I was a kid, become a full grown adults reality when eating outstanding cuisine on the streets of Phnom Penh.

Cambodian Sandwich

8.  Chill Out

If there is not much to do in the afternoon it is required to take a nap on the back of a motorbike, in a hammock, on a fence pole, or with your leg vertically propped in some position that looks ridiculously uncomfortable.

IMG 02011 How To Be Native in Cambodia

If you can master these daily norms you will easily fit in and possibly even start to become a local Cambodian.

-Migration Mark

How to Get From Bangkok to Angkor Wat

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
CambodiaEntrance How to Get From Bangkok to Angkor Wat

Cambodia Border Entrance


1.  Mo Chit Station- Bangkok

Start at Mo Chit Station- Bangkok’s Northern bus terminal.  Take a bus to Aranyaprathet that departs every 30 minutes starting at about 4 am for the price of around 200 baht (US $6).  Bus takes about 4 hours

2.   Rongklua Market- Border

The bus will either take you all the way to the border or it will drop you in town and you will need to spend less than 100 baht (US $3) on a tuk tuk to the actual border at Rongklua Market

CAUTION: If you take a tuk tuk, don’t let the driver take you to a middle man to get your visa.  Go all the way to the border and get it officially so you don’t get ripped off.  Insist that the tuk tuk takes you to the border, if the tuk tuk tries to stop at a visa service, tell him to continue onwards. 

3.  Border Crossing 

Handle Thai immigration and walk through the Cambodian arch and finish the paperwork and payment of US $20 for a Cambodian Visa (have some US $ on you). You will then be lead to a FREE government shuttle bus (hassle free) which will take you a few kilometers into Poipet to the tourist taxi and bus station. 

The choice of transportation to Siem Reap is either bus or private taxi.  The bus usually costs $8 per person while the taxi costs $12 per person.  However, the buses are rather infrequent with one in the morning and one in the evening.  If you have a group, kindly finagle a taxi and strike a deal.  Joining with a few other travelers, we were able to get a taxi for 5 for US $40, splitting the cost.  You kind of need to haggle a deal  but will probably pay somewhere around $10 per person

4.  Poipet to Siem Reap

The 2 hour taxi ride will take you into the town of Siem Reap where most likely it will drop you off at a tuk tuk stop where all kinds of middle men will try to give you a free ride to a guest house in an effort to sell you a tuk tuk for the next day and make a commission on the guest house.  We were taken to the decent Green Town Guest House and accepted the offer, though you have NO obligation.  The tuk tuk driver will also attempt to get work for the next day by offering to take you to tour the temples, in my opinion not a bad offer.  If you want nothing to do with their services, kindly ask them to take you to your guest house of hotel of choice.

5.  Siem Reap Tuk Tuk

To hire a tuk tuk for an entire day of temple hopping should cost about US $12. Haggle a little and eventually reach a similar price. 

OVERVIEW: The transportation from Bangkok to Siem Reap takes approximately 7 hours and costs approximately US $15-20 with very little pain and not too much effort. 


I would recommend leaving Mo Chit bus station at about 6 am.  If you arrive in Siem Reap in the afternoon you can purchase a single day ticket ($20) to the temples at 5 pm.  This allows you to see the sunset and have the entire following day at the same cost and then maximize 24 Hours at Angkor Wat Temples.  We organized a tuk tuk for the first evening and the entire following day for $14 and had an outstanding trip!

-Migration Mark

24 Hours at Angkor Wat

Monday, January 18th, 2010
 24 Hours at Angkor Wat

IMG 0379 24 Hours at Angkor Wat

With a time constraint in Cambodia, I was only able to allot a single day to the brilliant World Heritage Site of the Angkor Wat Temples near Siem Reap.  I was able to see a significant amount of temples that were truly spectacular in complete regards.

The single day really began on the evening before the day.  We arrived to Siem Reap in the mid afternoon and tuk tuked our way to the entrance by around 5pm.  If you arrive at 5pm, you can purchase your $20 single day ticket in the evening for the following day.  That way you can observe the sunset at a temple of choice to get the slightest bit more bang for your buck.

The next day began well before dawn with a massive congregation of camera flashing happy humans at the Angkor Wat Temple.  The crimson sun rose, the cliche of tourist huddled together in awe and the stones glistened to reveal their antiquity.  The antique towers of Angkor Wat were reminicent of Prambanan Temple in Indonesia, yet on much more significant foundation and overall larger structure.   

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Walking around the temple was staggering.  The stones are neatly fitted in place, the steps are steeply designed, and the carvings and reliefs are intricately carved.  As I caressed the moldings with my naked fingertips, I could only marvel at the time and effort that normal humans put forth to create such aesthetic beauty.  Many of the reliefs appeared similar to what I had seen at the Buddhist Borobudur Temple in Indonesia. 

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A rush of a tuktuk ride and we were hurled towards the stunning Bayon Temple in it’s ruinous glory.  This temple couldn’t help me from thinking that I was Socrates himeself in the midst of a philosophical genius of a thought.  The temple emerges from a foundation of crumbling stones and rises with sets of posts and lintels and heaps of stone blocks.  On entrance, one can observe ornate details of teachings and thoughts engraved into the lichen covered stones.    

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By late morning we had arrived at the Preah Khan Temple.  This temple seemed to continue on a single floor for a couple hundred meters as doorways lead to hallways and hallways opened into caverns. 

[singlepic id=1852 w=580 h=440 float=center]

Thommanom and Chau Say Thevoda Temples were less impressive if compared with the others, yet still gorgeous in all manners without comparisons.

The next temple was the Ta Keo.  The steep and narrow steps lead directly to the summit for an incredible view and pleasant thigh burning hike to the top.

When the fatigue of my body began to kick in we proceeded to the famous Jungle Temple, also known as the Ta Prohm Temple.  Though the masses also chose to visit it at our precise time, all was worth it.  The vines and trees were holding the ancient blocks in place and binding the entirety of the temple together in a splendid view.

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In conclusion our tuk tuk driver shuttled us to the Banteay Kdei and Sras Srang Temples.  As my buttocks sank into the comfy tuk tuk seat I didn’t really desire to get up and walk around any longer.  I fought with comfort and forced my legs back into walking conciousness.  Luckily the temples were not as impressive as all the former and 15 minutes was enough. 

As the sun sluggishly set over Angkor Wat, my aching thighs were relaxing and my mind was enthralled in ancient thought as I gushed back into the throne of the tuk tuk and felt like a Pharaoh.

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Allow your travels to eventually meander towards Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat.  The architects and engineers were beyond their years and demonstrated the human ability of imagination, creativity, and construction skills.  Though thousands of appreciative spectators have realized this too, it doesn’t miss direct the quality of such man made structure of extravaganza.

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-Migration Mark

Migrationology in 2009

Sunday, January 10th, 2010
 Migrationology in 2009

When 2009 rolled in, I had just returned to the the United States from Patagonia to attend my sisters wedding in Phoenix, Arizona.

It was in February 2009 under the influence of a carne asada burrito that I decided it was time to record my migrationology travels in the form of online documentation. I knew next to nothing about the web world, (twitter was literally just the sound of a bird to me).  Utilizing gallons of my parents coffee and my addiction to yerba mate from Argentina, along with free internet, I gave birth to Migrationology.

1. United States


(check out the full USA gallery)

2. Malaysia

              Kuala Lumpur at Night

(check out the full Malaysia gallery)

3. Indonesia

              Orangutan in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra

IMG 1496 Migrationology in 2009

            Sunrise on Mount Merapi

(check out the full Indonesia gallery)

4. Singapore


(check out the full Singapore gallery)

5. Philippines

                 Coron Island, Palawan, Philippines                              Mayoyao Paradise Rice Terraces                                              Batad Rice Terraces, Philippines

(check out the full Philippines gallery I and Philippines gallery II)

6. Thailand

                               Royal Palace

(check out the full Thailand gallery)

7. Laos

                     Luang Prabang, Laos

(check out the full Laos gallery)

8. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

(check out the full Hong Kong gallery)

9. Cambodia

  • Gawked at the amazing temples of Angkor Wat in Seam Reap (still gawking).
  • Ushered in 2010 to the local countdown in Phnom Penh with fireworks and Khmer dancing and songs.
Angkor Wat Angkor Wat Detail Phnom Penh Sunset

(check out the full Cambodia gallery)

-Migration Mark