Good and Bad at One FC’s Cambodia Debut

One FC made its much-hyped debut in Phnom Penh with its Sept. 12 “Rise of the Kingdom” event. The Singapore-based MMA promotion is the largest in Asia and its arrival to Phnom Penh was meant to symbolize that Cambodia’s arrival on the international martial arts scene. The end result wasn’t as grand as some hoped, but its a promising start that hopefully means One FC will be back to Phnom Penh the future.

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Height of Stupidity: Phnom Penh’s ‘Illegal’ Hotel to Open

Work is almost finished on a four-star hotel near the Royal Palace deemed so offensive – and so illegal – that Phnom Penh authorities demanded it be torn down. The order, given almost a year ago in October 2013, has unsurprisingly gone ignored. Now, the unambitiously named “Okay Boutique Hotel” is set to open on an alleyway behind the Royal University of Fine Arts with 56 rooms, a restaurant and a murky backstory involving the highest levels of Cambodia’s government.

The Sad State of the Troubled Kampot Zoo

About ten kilomers up the western bank of the Kampot river from the town is a shabby zoo that looks like it’s fallen on hard times once again. Despite being featuring a variety of A-list animals (lions, tigers, bears, elephants and much more) and a seemingly well-intended staff, the privately-owned Teuk Chhou Zoo is in need of some overhauls. This isn’t the first time the zoo has faced problems.

5 Things to Do in Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham is typically a short stopover for people coming or going to Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri or Laos. There’s isn’t a whole lot to do in this provincial capital about 3 hours from Phnom Penh, but’s it’s a pleasant stay with a massive riverfront area, crumbling colonial architecture, and plenty of attractions just out of town.  Here are some of my favorite sites from the two separate weekends I’ve spent in Kampong Cham.

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Country Roads: Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham by Bicycle

The 140 kilometer stretch of National Highway 7 between Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham is in dire shape regardless of what vehicle you’re on. Going by bicycle is especially tough, with unpaved roads, unmarked lanes and an endless cloud of red dust. Fortunately, the backroads between the two cities are in much better shape and a scenic alternative to the monotony of the highway. Best of all, the entire journey is “only” 100 kilometers and completely flat.

Temples and Soldiers: Hiking Cambodia’s Preah Vihear

The beautiful Preah Vihear temple complex is – or at least was – ground zero for a pissing match between Cambodia and Thailand. Both countries claimed ownership 10th-century ruins, as the temple rests on the border of the two nations and ownership has already swapped in the past. The debate was the perfect excuse for both countries to exploit nationalism in an attempt to appeal to their own people. Considering the beauty of the mountain temple and the stunning views it provides, it’s no wonder the countries would bicker over who gets to own such a historic site. Read more

Koh Kong Resort, from Khmer Rouge Battleground to Opulent Casino

Border casinos are a dime a dozen in Cambodia thanks to gambling bans in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand. Some of these casinos gaudy, while others look shady and host cockfighting matches. Out of the many casinos I’ve seen at several borders, none were quite as grand as the plainly-named Koh Kong Resort in the no-mans land between Koh Kong and Hat Lek on the Gulf of Thailand. Rooms range from $50 to $1,900 and the intended clientele is Thai. All the prices are in Thai baht, after all.

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