Man about town: 8 Mar 2013

Man about town: 8 Mar 2013

Another biblical-based youth-oriented European church is preparing to open shop in Siem Reap or, to adopt the jargon of the Zurich-based International Christian Fellowship, to involve Siem Reap in its “church planting movement.”

The church started in Zurich in 1996 with a goal to reach the “young generation.” On its website, the church answers the question of, “Why is Siem Reap the perfect place for a new church?”

The answer is mainly that Siem Reap has a very young population.

The church will begin its Siem Reap mission in August this year, when the family Strupler arrives to spread the word – Mrs Strupler is a Cambodian named Sophal.

Husband ND Strupler said online, “The family Strupler will move to Siem Reap in August 2013. First, we will focus on learning the local language, culture and religion. At the same time will building the launch team and train small group leaders. As soon as we are ready we will prepare for the BIG BANG (The launch of the public weekend services).”

New travel man in town is Australian Trevor Lake, who on March 11 signs on as country manager for Saigon-headquartered Trails of Indochina, one of the largest inbound tour operators in Cambodia.

Lake stayed in Siem Reap recently, sussing the potential and is now returning to take care of business.

He’s a former managing director of Classic Oriental Tours, and is the founder and owner of Newcastle, Australia-based Discover Asia.  He brings with him a wealth of Asian tour experience, and was described by Travel Daily as a “Long-time Asia specialist and industry personality.”

In 1996 the influential Australian Financial Review ran a series of articles about the pioneers of the Australian travel industry, and Lake was one of only six people featured in the series. On May 8, 2011, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Lake extensively in an article on the expansion of the Vietnamese tourism industry. He told the Herald that he believed that, "People are looking for the quality rather than the cheapie holidays.”  He added that travellers to Vietnam are also starting to go much further afield,” immersing themselves in the country”  rather than doing the "eight-day highlights of Vietnam" kind of trip. Which augurs well for his time in Siem Reap, as the local travel industry is embracing the notion of expanding travellers time in the Kingdom and moving away from the 3-day temple hop romp. Lake advises that his office away from his office in town will be the Picasso Bar.

Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and its Phnom Penh counterpart Raffles Hotel Le Royal will be running a Khmer Culture package throughout the entirety of this year.

The package is titled, “A Journey Through Khmer Culture,” and in Siem Reap it will entail a potentially hectic three night stay encompassing Royal Khmer cookery lessons with chef Wade James, and a visit to Artisans d’Angkor’s Silk Farm and, subject to availability, a visit to Eric Raisina’s workshop to see weaving and colour dyeing.

Among other things, the package also includes a helicopter flight over Angkor, a dawn visit to Ta Prohm and a sunrise visit to Angkor Wat, an afternoon exploration of the walled city of Angkor Thom with an expert archaeologist, and a professional photography workshop with photographer John McDermott. “Charitable Options” include visits to the Angkor Hospital for Children and the Cambodia Landmine Museum.

Solutions may be on hand for Siem Reap’s annoying bus-induced traffic problems. Authorities have already begun to divert buses from the busy downtown sector in the evenings, and Sokha gm Emmett McHenry is heading a group of hoteliers who will lobby the tourism ministry about this and other problems.


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