Linda Oum Talks About the Isanborei Community Homestay with its Pre-Angkor Discoveries
Every month, we put the Spotlight On one of the key players that make it happen for your privileged clients.
This month we spoke with Linda Oum, Deputy Manager, Khiri Travel Cambodia, who explained the history of a homestay project that helps the local community and gives visitors access to wonderful pre-Angkor temples that were ‘forgotten’ in the forest.
What is the Isanborei project?
Isanborie project was established in 2009 with collaboration between Khiri Reach and GIZ (German Technical Cooperation) which helps the German government reach its overseas development objectives. The purpose was to provide training and employ local people in the field of tourism and create sustainable income for the community of Sambor Prei Kuk. There are wonderful temple ruins in and around Sambor. It is a unique place with a story to tell.
What can you tell about the beginning of the project?
For one year the project focused on training local guides about hospitality and history. We trained the house owners how to set up a homestay and how to make food for tourists.
How do you inform people about the project?
We helped the community to create a web site and use promotion materials such as leaflets and signage. We helped the villagers promote the project in guide books and in the media. We arranged for travel writers and bloggers to visit the area.
Why should clients come to visit this project?
There are about 10 or so old temple ruins. Each one is accessible by foot or bicycle in the forest. The temples are in various states of ruin. But the whole area is one of charm. It is amazing to realize that these temple ruins are older than Angkor – but Angkor gets all the glory. Admittedly the temples at Sambor are smaller. But visitors get a real sense of discovery that perhaps isn’t possible at the much larger Angkor complex.
Apart form the temples, what can visitors enjoy at Sambor Prei Kuk?
It’s a perfect place for ‘feet on the ground’ low impact community based tourism. Visitors who appreciate local charm should enjoy the simple homestay with a community family, lunch and dinner at Chenla-era temple ruins, local guides to show you around, bicycle tours, riding an ox cart, and seasonal activities such as rice planting, harvesting, making flatting rice, palm wine and sugar palm creation. There are also cooking classes and a chance to join Waseda University for supervised temple excavation and restoration work. I am very proud of what we have achieved at Sambor Prei Kuk.