Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Som Leng round-up

Here's a few titbits that can be found in the latest edition of Som Leng, the Hanuman Tourism newsletter published last week.

Inflation in Asia Hits New Highs:
As you know, the global economy faces an uncertain future and it is beginning to impact on the Southeast Asian economy. Food prices are rising particularly fast and already there have been 25% increases in the first quarter of 2008 alone. Rice has tripled in price in a short space of time and other basics are increasing at an alarming rate. Fuel is also rising fast and is now three times the price of five years ago. Hotel rates are also beginning to rise, reflecting higher costs in the region. As a business we have a responsibility to match these new realities with higher wages and our wage bill continues to rise rapidly, far outstripping the wage increases in the West. This is creating many hardships for local people in this region. As a leading travel company in the region, it is also creating a number of headaches for us, but we are trying our best to absorb these costs and not pass them on to our partners.

Srepok Wilderness Area in Mondulkiri:
Isolated and remote, the Srepok Wilderness Area retains much of its rich biodiversity, ranging from crocodiles and exotic fish in the Srepok River to large cats and wild cattle roaming the surrounding plains. Once described as the Serengeti of Asia, its pristine isolation is currently threatened by commercial logging, land grab and the illegal trade in wildlife. To counteract those threats, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is developing an ecotourism venture that’s geared towards conserving the environment and generating benefits from the river and its forest for the local villagers. WWF’s plans include an ecolodge nestled alongside the Srepok River, bird-watching, river-fishing, cycle tours and safaris into the forest with the Park Rangers. This is another project at an embryonic stage in its development and we will keep you appraised of on-going developments. The Srepok Wilderness Area is at the centre of the much greater expanse of the Lower Mekong Dry Forest Ecoregion, one of 200 large landscapes identified by WWF as being of global importance.

Access to Bokor Mountain:
The road to Bokor Mountain on the South Coast is open again. Expected to be closed for a long period, the Sokha Group who are renovating the road and the buildings at the summit of the mountain have re-opened it ahead of schedule to allow limited use of the road for tourist traffic. So we’re pleased to report, Bokor Mountain is back on our itineraries and open to the public.

PS. In addition, if you are visiting Tuol Sleng, the former Khmer Rouge interrogation center also known as S-21,
a new exhibition prepared by the DC-Cam museum team called 'Reflections: Democratic Kampuchea and Beyond' opened up in mid April. The exhibition, which will be housed in three buildings, aims to take museum visitors on an historical-visual journey starting on April 17, 1975, when the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh and ending in the present day. The exhibition features photographs taken from the DC-Cam archives and showcases excerpts from its previous publications History of Democratic Kampuchea, Stilled Lives, Vanished, Victims and Perpetrators, and the Night of theKhmer Rouge. The visual documents placed upon the walls give insight into life during Democratic Kampuchea; the torture, execution, and killing in the prison systems; the finding and excavation of countless mass graves; the various ways Cambodians have sought to remember and memorialize the victims; and the ongoing process of and search for justice.

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