Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Socheata loves Alaya

One of the contributors to To Cambodia With Love is Socheata Poeuv, who made her filmmaking debut with the award-winning film, New Year Baby which was broadcast nationally in 2008. She was formerly on the staff at NBC News Dateline, ABC News World News Tonight and NBC News TODAY. She’s also the CEO of Khmer Legacies, an organization whose mission is to document the Cambodian genocide through videotaped testimonies by having the younger generation interview the older generation. Here is one of her memorable experiences from the book.

Socheata Poeuv stops in her tracks in Siem Reap

Excerpted from To Cambodia With Love: A Travel Guide for the Connoisseur, available from ThingsAsian Press.

I will never forget the day I arrived at the HanumanAlaya Hotel. I had been shooting a documentary film for over two weeks throughout Cambodia. We had visited former Khmer Rouge cadres, Pol Pot’s grave, and even the site of the refugee camp where I was born. We had been bumping and rolling for more than five hours over the notoriously broken-down Cambodian back roads from Anlong Veng to Siem Reap. My back and bottom felt like they had been treated with a meat tenderizer.

Parched, sweaty, and cranky, the crew and I crawled out of our cars. We stopped in our tracks. Beyond a lush green patio was the HanumanAlaya. Named after the home of the monkey king, Hanuman, the hotel was inspired by a traditional Cambodian teak house. Before we could walk inside, we all paused simply to admire the place.

Every square inch of the hotel is accented by traditional Cambodian handicrafts, including luxurious silk bedspreads and exquisite bronze figures of dancing apsaras. In the open-air dining room, we were greeted with a tray of Cambodian ice tea, a special blend that came straight from the owner’s private plantation. It had the natural sweetness of almonds—the best tea I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Nearby are the sprawling five-star monoliths known as luxury hotels in Siem Reap, but compared to the exquisite intimacy of the HanumanAlaya, those other places seemed like a fraud. After two hard weeks on the road, immersed in the tragedies of Cambodia’s not-so-distant past, it felt good to find this oasis, which captures the real beauty and the real soul of the country.

This boutique hotel is located in a quiet corner of Siem Reap, near to the Angkor Conservation Depot. (063) 760-582 website

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Anonymous Tom C. said...

Hi Andy

I've very much loved reading your Cambodia commentaries (including your splendid football coverage too).

I've visited Cambodia five times now, staying in Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap. I've built up some friendships here too.

I could not resist buying "From Cambodia with love" on (at £12.38) here in London (cold, dark, wet and snowy). Wow!! what a fabulous book. Knowing a couple of the contributors makes it even more special.

Very many thanks, Andy, for such a lovely anthology.


December 2, 2010 at 12:16 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Tom,
I appreciate your message very much. Thank you for your support of TCWL and of course your love of Cambodia.
If you would like to join our Facebook readers photo page (pictures of readers with their copy of TCWL) send me a photo. Its just for fun but also a way of thanking readers as well. There's little point in publishing if we can't celebrate with our readership :-)

December 2, 2010 at 8:44 AM  

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