Winning Against the Odds
Every month, we put the spotlight on one of the key players that make it happen for your privileged clients.
The Spotlight On: Bunseun You, Khiri Travel Cambodia, Branch Manager, Siem Reap
What can you tell us about yourself?
I was born in 1983. In 1991, I attended primary School in Chomnoum commune in my home province of Banteay Mean Chey. Things were tough at first. During class it was terrible since in my school at times there were still some Khmer Rouge rebels camping and staying in the school building.
I remember sometimes the Khmer Rouge fired guns in our school. After my primary school finished, I said goodbye to my family to continue studying in the town of Serey Sophon until I graduated with an English Associated Degree at the University of Management & Economics. During my study at UME I also worked as volunteer with some NGOs until 2005 when I moved to live in Siem Reap in order to get a job in tourism.
When I moved to live in Siem Reap, I didn’t know any friends and didn’t feel welcome. But my friend who lived in Banteay Meanchey knew one priest who lived in a church in Siem Reap. She asked him for permission for me to work and live with him for a short time before I found a job. I was luck that I knew some English. He asked me to teach English to the small children so I could earn some money for my daily food.
Then at the beginning of 2006, the priest loaned me some money to join university again. I had to keep working for him to reduce what he loaned me. In the same period I joined a Business Class at BBU. So I am very thankful to the Indonesian priest, Father Heri.
Can you tell us about your career in hospitality?
I worked for three years for one travel company in the customer and operations department. And after that, shortly with another inbound tour operator to gain more experience on the logistics of camping. But it wasn’t very successful. After three months I resigned and started to work with Souching Travel & Port as an administrator.
When and why did you start to work with Khiri?
In November of 2011 I heard from one staff from Khiri Travel that she would resign and she asked me to apply. So I was very interested and applied for the Operations Position. I got the job. Since then, I have loved working with Khiri very much. It has given me more experience and benefits. I really like that Khiri is a company that always tries to give clients a truly personal experience. I like that a lot.
What special experience does Khiri offers in Cambodia? Why should clients book it?
We have some great homestay experiences. Our homestay in Kampong Thom that we started is a great example of where clients can interact with locals in an authentic and correct way. We also have one now in Kompong Khleang floating village. Here we not only want our clients to know the cultural side of tourism, but we want them to find out more about our social life in the rural village and our art lives.
You are from Bantey Meanchey province. We hear you once won a karaoke competition, can you tell us a little about that?
Ha! Yes, I love to sing. Karaoke is very popular in Cambodia especially in the countryside. I have a voice that makes most people love my singing. A few years ago when I visited my village I sang on stage in a concert. I won the competition.
What is for you the best outing or holiday in Cambodia?
For me the best time for my family is Phjum Ben Day and Khmer New Year when all my relatives and family enjoy a party together. Also I like to go to the beaches in the South with my family sometimes.
Do you have any advice for travellers to Cambodia?
It’s good if people can learn a few words of Khmer before they come to Cambodia. If people want to see the temples and avoid the crowds, I think coming to see sunrise at east gate is a good idea, away from front of Angkor Wat which has many tourists. Cambodia is a small country. But it has many things: trekking, temples, beaches, adventure activities, museums and history. There is much more to Cambodia than just temples.