November 2014

While working on the east causeway conservation and protection project, the Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts discovered a wonderful, intact head of a demon. As you may know, the causeway was originally lined with demons and gods representing the famous Hindu story of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Through time and looting almost all the original heads have been lost or destroyed. The protection of the east causeway is vitally important to Banteay Chhmar as it serves as a dam for the commune’s primary water supply in the moat.


6th Annual Khmer-Thai Student Exchange

6th Annual Khmer-Thai Student Exchange

Also this month, on Sunday November 16th, students, community leaders and officials gathered in the temple for the 6th Annual Khmer-Thai student exchange. It was a great morning of bonding and information sharing. Some of our brightest Cambodian youth helped to explain the history, culture and environment of Banteay Chhmar. Thank you to everyone for sharing their time and energy to make this meeting a success.





National GeographicFinally, please take the time to read this article if you already have not done so. It was written by editor-at-large, Don George, from National Geographic. He takes on a nice, humanistic and personal view of his time here in Banteay Chhmar. 

August 2014

We are pleased to let you know that the reconstruction of the east gallery of Banteay Chhmar Temple is nearing completion. This is the final major piece of conservation work that also included the rebuilding and stabilization of Tower #18 in 2013. Working under the guidance and authority of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts (MCFA), the conservation work was managed by Global Heritage Fund (GHF), We will keep you posted as further conservation work and projects develop.

The east gallery bas-reliefs offer a new glimpse into Anglorian-era life. They further help to tell the story under the reign of the empire’s last great king, Jayavarman VII. Please take your time to examine and enjoy these wonderful stories of Cambodia’s heritage and culture.


Conservation project on east gallery

East gallery conservation work nears completion


July 2014

PATA Grand AwardIn partnership with Khiri Travel, Banteay Chhmar is very pleased to announce that it has won another prestigious award. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has awarded Khiri Travel the 2014 Grand Award for Heritage and Culture for its Banteay Chhmar Tented Camp tour. This is truly an honor for the CBT, our community and Khiri Travel.




The tented camp allows visitors to stay in luxurious, fully furnished tents in close proximity to the main temple complex. Visitors will be able to experience a “sense of time and place” and appreciate the cultural and historical importance of the temple. The tents are low-impact and are taken down quickly leaving virtually no traces of disturbance. More importantly, is that the agreement with Khiri allows the CBT to manage the activities and services for the visitors. Therefore, a significant amount of income is earned for the community. The partnership also develops hospitality and management skills which will beneficial for the community. Finally, the Cambodian Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts (MCFA) is also involved in overseeing that the project will be successful while still protecting the heritage and culture of the precious and irreplaceable Banteay Chhmar temple complex.

A complete list of the PATA Grand and Gold Award winners for 2014 can be found here: PATA Awards 2014


Operation Groundswell

Operation Groundswell

Solid waste management station provided by Operation Groundswell

We had another wonderful visit from our good friends at Operation Groundswell. As you may know from our previous posts, this excellent tour operator conducts “backpacktivist” trips around the world. Participants become socially, culturally and environmentally aware of and involved in the communities they visit. They also contribute toward the success and sustainability of the projects that they engage with.






Handwashing stations provided by Operation Groundswell

Handwashing stations provided by Operation Groundswell

This year, the Operation Groundswell group generously contributed funds for two projects. First, the Banteay Chhmar community used some of the funds donated to build a solid waste management container for the market area. This will make it easier for both the sellers and the garbage collectors to dispose of the waste which is taken to a landfill 3 km outside of the village area. It should also keep the market area cleaner and safer. Second, the group also contributed funds toward installing two handwashing and hygiene stations at the primary school. The handwashing stations will complement the latrines that were also built for the students. This entire project should provide important steps toward improving the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of the children concerning health and how to prevent disease.

Of course, it was not all work for Operation Groundswell. The group enjoyed a tour of the Banteay Chhmar Temple, they played games with the children, went fishing at a nearby farm and enjoyed a picnic by the baray. Thank you again to everyone from Operation Groundswell and see you next year!!!



June 2014

At the beginning of the month we were pleased to, once again, welcome one of our favorite tour operators to Banteay Chhmar. Operation Groundswell joined us from June 3-6 for three fun-filled and informative days of temple touring, teaching in the CBT library, fishing and picnicking. Operation Groundswell is a non-profit organization that offers travel and community service experiences around the world. Their aim is to build a community of “backpacktivists” who are socially, environmentally and politically aware of their impact in the communities they travel to and live in. We always look forward to their visits. Please see their website for more information.


Also, in partnership with Khiri Travel, the CBT is pleased to announce that we will soon be offering a temple tent safari experience. Visitors will be able to stay in luxurious and fully furnished tents inside the main temple complex. Guests will receive a full complement of services and activities provided by Khiri and the CBT. This month, we had our a first mock setup which went very well. Please stay in touch with us or contact Khiri Travel for more information about pricing, availability, services and the official launching of this truly memorable temple and travel experience.



May 2014

CBT President, Khlot Sopheng, giving a temple tour

CBT President, Khlot Sopheng (r), giving a temple tour

On May 21, the Banteay Chhmar CBT members gathered to hold elections for  president and vice-president. These elections are held every two years and provide an opportunity for members to advance their skills by holding new positions of responsibility. We are pleased to announce that Khlot Sopheng has been elected as the new Banteay Chhmar CBT president. And, in an unusual vote count, there was a tie for vice-president. Former president, Bieng Sruon, and Mao Sy each finished with 12 votes. They will share the vice-presidential duties. Thank you to all the members who came to vote, congratulations to the winners and best of success for the future of the CBT.

April 2014

Khmer New Year!!!

Temple moat in full bloom

Temple moat in full bloom

As you may know, April is a very special and important month in Cambodia. It is the celebration of the Khmer New Year. This holiday is enjoyed throughout Southeast Asia, though it has different meanings and festivities in other countries. In Thailand, it is called Songkran and involves a lot of water throwing. More information on the Cambodian new year can be found at Choul Chhnam Khmer.

In Banteay Chhmar, it was quite a week’s worth of celebrating. This year’s fun seemed bigger and happier than the previous few years. There was a full five days of eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating with family and friends.


Unfortunate News

Despite all the fun and festivities this month, we do have some unfortunate news to share. A section of the north gallery collapsed at the end of March. It is very sad to see the irreplaceable bas-reliefs that have been damaged.

Northern gallery collapse

Northern gallery collapse

March 2014

Ly Huor

Ly Huor

We have the best news of all this month! On March 7th, we welcomed our newest CBT member – Ly Huor Yang. Ly Hor and her mother Savy are healthy and doing fine. This is Savy’s first child. Savy is a CBT homestay owner and cook, and her family also helps with other CBT activities. We are all very happy and wish Savy, her daughter and family a long, happy and healthy future.

February 2014

A month of volunteering!

Amy Williams

Thank you to Amy Williams

The CBT would like to thank Amy Williams for the time she spent volunteering with us. Amy spent about six weeks in Banteay Chhmar teaching in the CBT library, at the Enfants du Mekong school and tutoring some high school students. Everyone appreciates the time and effort that Amy showed. She is traveling back to Korea and the USA to continue doing some freelance work. Best wishes!





Volunteers, Yan Kangni (l) and Yang Wanqi (r)

Volunteers, Yan Kangni (l) and Yang Wanqi (r)

The CBT is also very grateful to Yang Wanqi and Yan Kangni from China for spending their time to do volunteer work with us here in Banteay Chhmar. They taught in the CBT library and helped clean some forest area in the temple. They were sponsored by the NGO, Greenway, based in Samroang, Cambodia. Thank you very much and best wishes to both of your futures.





Learning about dental care

Learning about dental care

Finally, the CBT would also like to send thanks to Amy Pittelkau. Amy is a yoga instructor and dental hygienist from California. Amy spent a day teaching the Banteay Chhmar library students about the importance of dental hygiene and showed the children how to properly brush their teeth. She also donated toothbrushes and toothpaste to the CBT. Thank you Amy!




Nice clean teeth

Nice clean teeth

January 2014

Happy New Year to Everyone!

January 3rd was a very special day for the CBT members. The tour guides traveled to Sisophon to meet with the Provincial Governor to receive their official Ministry of Tourism (MoT) tour guide licenses. This is an important step for the guides and will help to ensure the CBT is recognized as a viable business and tourism entity in Banteay Chhmar.

The tour guide licensing process was facilitated by Heritage Watch. Other attendees at the meeting and ceremony included representatives from the Apsara Authority, the Heritage Police and the Thmor Puok District Chief.

Congratulations to the CBT tour guides! 🙂


Dong and his grandparents

Dong and his grandparents

And, we have more good news. Thanks to the care, concern and efforts of Simon and Sokha Pawson the CBT was able to provide health care for a young boy in the village. Dong has been suffering from a inguinal hernia for quite some time. Simon and Sokha raised some money from their family and friends in Australia. Dong was taken to the Angkor Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap at the end of December for an operation. He is back in Banteay Chhmar now and all indications are for a full recovery.

Dong is 8 years old and lives with his grandparents. Like many rural Cambodian stories, the parents left the village looking for work elsewhere. In Dong’s case the parents have gone to Thailand and have not been heard from in three years. There are many unfortunate cases like this in Banteay Chhmar and throughout Cambodia.

Simon Pawson in Banteay Chhmar

Simon Pawson (center) in Banteay Chhmar

Simon is a scholar and researcher specializing in community-based tourism at the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. For the past two years, has been undertaking research at Banteay Chhmar, examining the relationship between our CBT project and the community itself. The research is part of his PhD thesis titled ‘Community development, responsible tourism and community-based tourism in emerging economies: A case study of discourses at Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia.’ His study examines responsible and community-based tourism in Cambodia and specifically uses our CBT project as a case study. Central to his research is documenting feedback from the stakeholders, especially the villagers, concerning community development and the CBT project. His research will conclude with an evaluation of the relative merits and shortcomings of the CBT project from the stakeholder’s perspectives. Simon can be reached at .


Sokha Pawson donates books to the CBT library

Sokha Pawson (right) donates books to the CBT library

In addition to helping Dong, Simon and Sokha also donated several boxes of books from the Mount Sinai Preschool in Sydney to the CBT library. Truly, wonderful people. A big THANK YOU to both of them and the students for their donations 🙂

Finally, the CBT has received numerous requests from visitors interested in making donations and helping the community. We are currently working on setting up an online donation page for our website. Please check back in the coming months. Thank you