Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - German expats star in TV show

German expats star in TV show

Expats Peter and Anne Kirchhoff in the limelight for "Pensioners Under​ Palm Trees".
Expats Peter and Anne Kirchhoff in the limelight for "Pensioners Under​ Palm Trees". Miranda Glasser

German expats star in TV show

German expat couple Peter and Anne Kirchhoff were the stars of the small screen last month when they spent five days being followed around by a film crew for German TV show, Pensioners Under Palm Trees, which was filming in Temple Town for its third season.

Part of a daily program on ZDF called Hello Germany, the strand follows the fortunes of retirees who have given it all up for a life in the sun.

The Kirchhoffs relocated from Germany to Sihanoukville a year ago, but decided to move to Siem Reap following an offer from Terrasse des Eléphants Hotel to open an in-house German bakery and café next month.

ZDF director Ole Apitius says he was interested in filming the couple as theirs was such an unusual story.

Peter and Anne Kirchhoff outside Terrasse des Elephants, where their German-style bakery will open soon.
Peter and Anne Kirchhoff outside Terrasse des Elephants, where their German-style bakery will open soon. Miranda Glasser

“It’s very unusual for people of such an age to leave Germany and go to a country which is – for German thinking – very far,” he says.

“If they went to Thailand or Spain or the US it would be a different story, but Cambodia – it’s really unknown in Germany. And at this age, to say, ‘We’ll go to this unknown land because we like to have a good standard of living for not much money.’

“Also it’s about their characters. She’s very outgoing and open-minded.”

This is the third time Apitius has filmed the duo, having documented their story from the start.

“We’ve been following them from the beginning – they started in April last year,” he says. “They came here for two weeks to check it out, to see if they could imagine living here, and then decided to come here.

“We returned after a few months to see how they were living, but they went to Sihanoukville, then they had the offer to open a coffee shop in this hotel.

“Peter is 72 and Anne is in her late 50s – she has a lot of energy and is the sort of person who needs to keep busy. That’s one of the reasons they left Sihanoukville, because they had a concrete offer to do something.”

The bakery is still in the planning stages with a view to opening in August, but in the meantime, Apitius and his crew followed the couple about their daily business filming in various locations including the hotel, their apartment and the Old Market.

“We filmed some situations in the market and things like that to try to show how their life is here,” he says. “The most spectacular thing was riding an elephant at Angkor Wat – it was very funny because the crew was also on two elephants and Ralph the camera operator was filming from an elephant, but it worked very well.

“I have to say all the shooting in Cambodia was very good because we have a very good translator, Tumlus Ho. This is the fourth time we’ve filmed with him and he’s nearly fluent in German. He’s a really good guy because he knows what we want which makes everything much easier – it takes a lot less time to get things done.”

Apitius says there are some challenges to filming in the tropics, but generally he finds Cambodia a trouble-free place to shoot.

“The climate is a factor in that you can’t work as in Europe. You can’t work for ten hours because you need more breaks and you need more water,” he says.

“But I like Cambodia very much because it’s really very easy. You go into a shop, ask if you can film, you go into a restaurant, you ask, and everything will work. We only had to get official permits for Angkor Wat. It’s much better than in Europe. And everybody is happy, it’s a very easy atmosphere here, it’s not aggressive.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon