It was International Human Rights Day on 10 December and also a public holiday in Cambodia. For this one day holiday, I was so privileged to get to stay at Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast before it was officially opened to the public and I also got to travel the off the beaten path with them.
I must say, it was one of my best experiences in Cambodia this year!
Puthkiri (or Kiri Buddha) and Anlung Phanheav lake
Puthkiri or Kiri Buddha Cambodia is a new place of worship for Buddhists. It was built by Buddhists monks. Their aim is to build 84,000 Buddha statues (petit and large) painted with gold colour at the site. There are more than 20,000 statues now and they are building more.
I was so impressed by the scale of the whole project. It reminded me of the Big Buddha on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. But this one is less crowded. When I was there, I was the only foreigner and there were not too many people. To date, it is still not so well known among foreign travellers.
Even though December is the coolest month in Cambodia and is the best month to come, it is still hot during mid-day. We (the B&B was so kind to have arranged an English teacher to take me to these places on his motorbike) left Puthkiri slightly before 11am but the sun was already very strong.
Carrying the carefully packed MSG-free lunch that the B&B had prepared for us that morning, we went to a nearby lake after we left Puthkiri for lunch. There was an entrance fee and a minimum charge for using their little ‘hut’ for eating outside food. The view was very nice and it was very relaxing. With the gentle breeze and the relatively cool weather, I couldn’t help falling asleep after eating the delicious lunch. We stayed until the sun was less strong.
Coco de Takeo Workshop (or Peace Village Workshop)
I was told so many times that I should visit Coco de Takeo Workshop. Before the visit, I was thinking, ‘oh, well, maybe it’s just like any the other workshops I have visited in Cambodia.’ But after I visited the workshop, I said to a lecturer at the college who still hasn’t been there, ‘You should visit it.’
The reason why it’s called Coco is not because of Coco Chanel :P. It’s because most of their products are made from coconuts. They used almost all parts of coconuts to make flip flops, mats, soaps, candies, etc.
And of course, apart from the above products, how can we forget about the very important products for women – garments and jewelry? 😛 You can see ladies weaving fine silk and raw silk garments in the workshop. The ladies also design the pattern of the garments. Their scarves are so famous that I heard a limited number of them are exported to France. Only a limited number, because it takes around one month to manually weave one garment. And the prices are very reasonable too.
Another thing is, after I bought a piece of raw silk scarf, I was given a paper bag. It is not any other paper bag. The paper is made of banana leaves. The students at St. Francois Technical High School researched the usage of banana leaves and found a formula and method to turn the leaves into paper. This formula and method won a national award. Because Coco de Takeo is affiliated to this school, this knowledge was passed to the workers to produce banana-leaf paper and bags.
Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast
I have to mention this B&B. If it weren’t because of their arrangements, I wouldn’t have been able to visit all these places and I wouldn’t have enjoyed this part of Cambodia so much!
When I stayed there, Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast was not yet officially opened to the public. How did I know about this place then? My colleague from the college. She highly recommended it. It is very close to our college so she took me to their restaurant. Instantly, I fell in love with it. This place is precisely what I have in mind when I think of ‘village life’.
Nestled in the midst of a rice field, the air conditioned B&B is the perfect place for a traveler to unwind and enjoy the tranquility of the village. It has all the modern facilities – hot shower, air conditioner, flush toilet and toiletries – inside a concrete en suite room. The reception is decorated with fresh flowers and the smell of essence oil spreads all over the reception area and the restaurant.
The purpose of Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast is to train the tourism management students from Saint Francois Technical High School. Hence, the room and the services are similar to that of a 3.5-star if not 4-star hotel (and the B&B is determined to raise the bar). It has been receiving guests who are related to the school. Recently, the B&B decided to open it to the general public.
I talk a lot about their food. Here’s the reason: it’s farm to table! The school has the faculty of agriculture so they have a piece of land for the students to practice. All the food they serve in the restaurant is directly from their farm. Another appealing fact is, guests can buy the ingredients from their farm and cook in the kitchen of the B&B. What more can a traveler ask for!
For enquiries and reservation at Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast, please feel free to email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 1: check in to Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast before 5pm to catch the beautiful sunset over the rice field. Enjoy the delicious and MSG-free dinner at the B&B.
I always emphasize ‘MSG-free’ because Cambodians love to put MSG in their food. Even in the supermarkets, there is an aisle dedicated specifically to MSG. They think it makes the food tastier. It’s hard to find a café or restaurant that offers MSG-free food in this country.
Note: it takes longer than 43 minutes due to road construction.
Day 2: go to Puthkiri (free entry) early in the morning to avoid the strong sun and leave before 10:30am to Anlung Phanheav for lunch (entrance fee applies depending on the type of vehicle and minimum charge may apply at the restaurant). Leave at around 4pm to avoid the mid-day strong sun. Then go back to Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast. Tour around the farm at the B&B and learn from the students and teachers about their agriculture projects. Dinner with the students and perhaps play football with the students after dinner.
Note: the road is quite smooth but the last part of the journey to Puthkiri is quite dusty. Wear a mask if you are on a motorbike.
The road is quite smooth. There is also a water park in Anlung Phanheav. If you are travelling with your kids, they can spend the whole day there.
Day 3: visit Coco de Takeo Workshop (the staff at Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast also call it ‘Peace Village Workshop’) before 8:30am and have breakfast there. Then continue to Kampot or Phnom Penh.
Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast will help their guests arrange transportation. Please feel free to send them an email for enquiries or reservation. They are now open to public: email@example.com.
I would like to thank Saint Francois Bed and Breakfast for generously sponsoring my stay and my wonderful trips. Thank you again.
Explore 10 different ways of getting around in Cambodia here: https://learnxtravel.com/2020/01/05/getting-around/
Want to know more about internet service providers in Cambodia? Check out my reviews on 3 different internet providers here: https://learnxtravel.com/2020/01/11/internet/