June 2012

CBT Member, Mao Sy, shows his voting finger on June 3

June 3rd was Election Day in Cambodia.  Over 1500 communes voted for their Commune Chief.  In Cambodia, the political structure is village > commune > district > province.  So, these elections are very important at the local level.  In Banteay Chhmar, the villagers elected a new Commune Chief.

Van Som Orn is from Banteay Chhmar’s Tbong Village.  He is 44 years old, married and has 2 children.  We all wish him the best of success in improving the Banteay Chhmar community!

May 2012

Students read story books and play games in their new library

May was a wonderful month here in Banteay Chhmar. We celebrated the opening of our new community library. This is the first library in Banteay Chhmar. We are sure all the students (and adults) will benefit from all the learning materials and stories to read. The library was funded through the generous support of Travelers’ Map of Korea.  Travelers’ Map has been a frequent visitor to Cambodia and has helped support other projects throughout the country. We thank them very very much and look forward to a long friendship.





CBT Tour Guide Training

Also, the CBT tour guides are now well into their Tour Guide Training program.  This program, started in late April, is the final phase of a Heritage Watch supported grant. Through this grant, the tour guides received English language lessons for one year.  Now, they are learning about Cambodian and Angkorian-era history, local culture, heritage protection and how to conduct a temple tour.  In total, 12 students are participating in this 3-month long, 2-day a week training program. The lessons are being conducted by Khieu Thy, an experienced guide trainer from Siem Reap.

Finally, since they rains have recently begun, we are just starting to plant the new rice crop for the year.  We all hope to reap a bountiful crop in a few months. Please ask our tour guides to give you a tour of the rice fields if you are interested in learning about the planting and harvesting cycle and all the hard work involved. Maybe you can lend a hand, too!


April 2012

April is, of course, the most special month in Cambodia.  It is the celebration of the Khmer New Year.when the old year and old god are gone and the new year and new god are welcomed.  Every house is cleaned, and offerings such as fruit and incense are put on display.  Many families will go to the pagoda to pray.  And, let us not forget that there are lots of parties to attend, games to play and dancing to do!

Khmer New Year Dancing

Happy Khmer New Year to Everyone!!!

March 2012

Sopheng and Sreymom's Wedding Day

March was a very special month for two of our CBT members.  Khlout Sopheng and Khoeun Sreymom were married in a lovely and fun 2-day wedding ceremony on March 5-6.  We all wish Sopheng and Sreymom a long and happy life together.

March was also a very good month for Sreymom and Sopheng for two more reasons.  First, they will become new homestay owners.  We are sure that our visitors will enjoy staying in their home and enjoy their hospitality.

And, finally, Sreymom will be the librarian for the Banteay Chhmar-CBT Library.  Congratulations!



Getting the new library ready for opening


As we have mentioned previously, thanks to a very generous donation from Travelers’ Map of Korea, Banteay Chhmar will have its first community library.  Please follow our progress here on our website as well as on our Facebook page.


February 2012

The road to Banteay Chhmar

The road to Banteay Chhmar

Now, the road from Sisophon to Banteay Chhmar is quite good. It has recently been graded. By share or private taxi it should only take a little more than an hour from Sisophon. It is also easy for tour buses and mini-vans coming from Siem Reap. However, we do caution you to take extra care if coming by moto as the dust can cause blind spots. And, we recommend against hiring a tuk-tuk from Sisophon  as this is not a very comfortable way to travel.





Ethereal scene

Visitors should visit the temple in the morning or evening hours because the temperature can be very hot (about 37C) during the middle of the day. This is also a more ‘magical’ time with some fantastic lighting and shadows.  Also, you should bring one or two bottles of drinking water when you visit the temple.  You can always ask one of our tour guides for any suggestions or help.





Cambodia CBT Meeting

CBT/CBET network meeting

CBT/CBET members and friends gathered for a meeting in Phnom Penh on February 27. We discussed and contributed news about visitor surveys, action plans, capacity-building, and dealing with challenges such as legislative rules – what should the Cambodian Ecotourism Law look like? A speaker from the Department of Tourism presented a draft law. We all hope to foster a better relationship between all the CBTs, the government  and the private sector. Cambodia has much to offer the visitor in terms of authentic and responsible tourism experiences.





We recently formed a partnership between the Banteay Chhmar CBT and  Korea Travelers’ Map tour agency. This partnership will support the first community library in Banteay Chhmar. We will start the building process (in the CBT building) in March as well as beginning to purchase library books and materials. We welcome all kinds of books and other educational materials for the library.  Thank you for your support.  Please see our Support Us page for more information.

January 2012

Happy  New Year to everyone!  We hope that 2012 will be a happy and healthy new year for all our friends, visitors and supporters.  Here in Banteay Chhmar, the year has gotten off to an excellent start.  We already have some very good news to share with you.


We have recently received two very generous donations.  First, Travelers’ Map of Korea will be supporting the very first community library in Banteay Chhmar! We are very excited about this and we are sure all the students and children will be very happy. Their donation will provide for books and educational materials, a librarian, construction and other start-up costs for the first year. The library will be housed in part of the CBT office. Hopefully, through time, we will find a more permanent site in the commune for the library. Again, the entire community is very thankful to Travelers’ Map.  They have been regular visitors to our CBT for quite some time now, and we hope to welcome our Korean friends for many more years. You can follow the progress of the library here on our website and on our Facebook page.  We hope to start purchasing supplies and preparing the library area in early February.

Kitchen cabinet courtesy of Other Ways Tours

A second donation came from another one of tour operators – Other Ways Tours.  Kim Nou and his staff have provided two first-aid kits and a storage cabinet for our kitchen supplies. Our cooking staff is very happy and we hope we will not need to use our first-aid kits – but better safe, than sorry 🙂




Cassava cutting season! Now is the time when cassava is harvested, cut and dried. It is usually exported to Thailand to be processed as a food additive.



December 2011

December is usually a wonderful month for weather here in Banteay Chhmar.  The weather is normally cool, dry and breezy. This month has been no exception. Lots of cool days (maybe too cool for some of the villagers:) It is really one of the best months to visit Cambodia and you can enjoy watching the rice being harvested throughout the countryside.

And, some good news. The road is in much better condition. The road has been graded and smoothed. It should only take about 1 1/2 hours from Sisophon.

The highlight of the month was a series of concerts during Christmas week. A few local stars came from Phnom Penh to sing and entertain the crowd. And, of course, there was plenty of food, games and drinking. We even had a Ferris wheel!

Concert night in Banteay Chhmar

Another Donation!

We are very grateful to Kim Nou and everyone  from Other Ways in Phnom Penh. Through their generous donation, we will be able to purchase some much-needed kitchen supplies and first-aid kits. We hope to have a few photos of our new supplies in next month’s update. Once again, thank you very much to all our friends, donors and supporters. Please see the Other Ways website for more information about their tour packages in Cambodia and Southeast Asia.

November 2011

Villagers buy Loy Pratip

November is one of the most important months in Cambodia. Here, in Banteay Chhmar, is no exception.  It is both the month for the celebration of the Water Festival and beginning of the rice harvest.

The flooding throughout Cambodia forced the cancellation of the national Water Festival festivities in Phnom Penh. However, except for damage to the road, Banteay Chhmar was spared from the flooding and we were able to celebrate the holiday.

The annual Water Festival (Bon Om Touk) is dedicated to the Khmer army, especially the water forces that defended the kingdom in historic battles.  The celebration takes place every November, during the full moon period.

There were a variety of events and activities including boat racing, the preparation of dalambok (flattened rice) which is offered to the monks in the pagoda during the Moon Salutation (Sampeas Preah Khe).  The finale is the floating of the illuminated candle boats (Loy Pratip).  These boats are a way of offering blessings, good luck and wishes for the next year.

Please see our Water Festival photo gallery page.

Boat racing during Water Festival


November is also the start of the rice harvest (j’rook s’rao).  Again, having been spared from the flooding, it looks like it will be a good rice harvest this year in Banteay Chhmar.  This means workers can earn more money and the rice can be sold at a higher price.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the rice fields with a tour guide and learn about all the hard work that goes into planting and harvesting rice.  Maybe you can lend a hand, too!

Rice Harvest


October 2011

As you may know, Southeast Asia has experienced a very severe monsoon season this year. Cambodia has not been spared from tragedy and damage.  Hundreds have died and thousands of hectares of rice fields have been damaged.

Road to Banteay Chhmar

Fortunately, Banteay Chhmar has escaped damage.  The temple, commune and surrounding villages are all in good condition.  Unfortunately, the road from Sisophon (Svay) to Banteay Chhmar has not been so lucky.  It has been severely damaged in several places.  It is passable, but conditions can change daily because of any recent rains.  We expect and hope the rains to stop soon.


Visitors are urged to contact us if you have any questions about travel to Banteay Chhmar.  There is also an alternate route through Oddar Meanchey which may be in better condition, but is much longer (150 km vs. 65 km from Sisophon).  Again, if you contact us we can give you the latest travel news.  Think of it as a great adventure.

Moat Cleaning Day

On a happier note, on October 27, hundreds of schoolchildren and villagers gathered to clean the temple moat.  This is an annual event and is done to prepare the moat for the Water Festival and boat racing (November 9-11).

We hope to forget all the bad weather and enjoy a few days of fun with our friends and families. Please join us. We are sure you will enjoy the hospitality and activities during this special Khmer celebration.



September 2011

Ley Moeuy, CBT cook votes

In September, CBT members gathered in the CBT office for new committee elections. Elections are held every 2 years and they also help to recognize the achievements and challenges of the CBT. This year, we had 11 candidates running for CBT President and Vice-President.  All the candidates are from the four villages surrounding Banteay Chhmar Temple.

We are pleased to announce that the CBT members have re-elected Bieng Sruon, as the CBT President.  Sang Ponlock, has been elected as Vice-President.

Bieng Sruon was born in 1974 in Banteay Chhmar Tbong village in Banteay Chhmar Commune.  In 1991, he returned from a refugee camp along the Cambodian-Thai border. In early 1994, he married  Rith Reth. They have raised 3 children – all girls. He owns a phone shop across from the Banteay Chhmar market. He has a professional job repairing mobile phones, televisions, CD and DVD players. In 2007, he decided to work for the CBT. He was quickly elected President.  He can also speak English and Thai. His ideas about the CBT are that “The CBT can provide extra income and work for villagers, share experiences with each other and tourists and protect the heritage and culture of Cambodia.”

Sang Ponlock was born in 1979 in Pongro Village, Tapou Commune in Battambang Province. in 1991, he and his family moved from a refugee camp along the Cambodian-Thai border to Sras Chray village in Banteay Chhmar Commune. in 2000 , he married Khal Sary, from Sras Chray village. They have raised 2 children – one boy and one girl.In 2007, he decided to work for the CBT. He was quickly elected accountant. He can also speak English and do tour guide from beginning the CBT project. His ideas about the CBT are that Conservation asset, improve extra income for family and development Banteay Chhmar. Local authorities from Banteay Chhmar Commune, the 4 village chiefs and CBT members participated and voted in the CBT election.

Pchum Ben ceremony

Num Ansom 'Sticky Rice Cake'

Pchum Ben is celebrated in September. It is one of the most important holidays and cultural events in Cambodia.  It is a time of prayer, remembrance and dedication to deceased relatives.  It is celebrated over 15 days from the first moon to full moon in September. Most  villagers will bring food, flowers, candles & incense to the pagoda. Food is also given to monks and the monks pray for the villagers’ ancestors. In Banteay Chhmar, villagers from each village are responsible for all the expenses on a certain day and this continues for several more days.  On the full moon day, all the villagers go to the pagoda together to pray and honor their ancestors.