From refugee kid to Cirque du Soleil star

Battambang was a flourishing city before the horrific Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, dramatically jeopardized the lives of its inhabitants. Many of them ended up slaughtered in the killing fields or neighbouring killing caves for no reason, whilst others were luckier and made it to close-by Thailand. Most of them spent years in refugee camps under harsh conditions. Kids grew up traumatised with hardly any access to proper education. In 1986, Véronique Decrop, a French art teacher, volunteered at the Site Two Refugee Camp on the Thai-Cambodian border. She used drawings as a therapy to help traumatised children express themselves. That was the spark to what will become Phare Ponleu Selpak (Cambodian for the brightness of the arts), a non-profit organization improving the lives of Cambodians through arts and education, its highlight being one of the best circus schools in the world. Keep reading

Photo of the day: a view on Nong Khiaw, Laos

Eight more minutes, the sign indicates. “If I am fast it might be only 5”, I tell myself when I eagerly hike up the last few steep metres before reaching the viewpoint overlooking the rural town of Nong Khiaw in Northern Laos. Reaching the top after a one-hour hike, the 360-degree view on Nong Khiaw does not fail to impress: the terraces of light green rice paddies contrast with Keep reading

Controversial morning alms ritual in Luang Prabang

It is 4:30 am in the dark streets of Luang Prabang, and I feel the chill air on my cheeks. I am still wondering if all this was a good idea, as we are walking the empty alleys of the former capital of Laos before sunrise. Somehow, I still want to form my own opinion about the morning alms ritual that is so famous in Luang Prabang and try to answer the question that has been bugging me for a while: how can an ancient religious tradition of meditative nature become a controversial tourist attraction? Keep reading

The James Bond island: to go or not to go?

South East Asia with its emblematic and exotic landscapes has long seduced Hollywood: Angkor Wat, Cambodia in Tomb Raider; Koh Phi Phi, Thailand in The Beach; or the karst formations of Phang Nga bay, Thailand in the 1974-James Bond movie The man with the golden gun. If the sites are stunning, visiting them can often be disappointing Keep reading

The French Riviera: A visual tour

Here is a compilation of the photos of the day of the world-famous French Riviera to inspire you.  All of these are available in a high definition upon request. For the story behind a specific photo, look for the corresponding photo of the day, or browse through our articles about the French Riviera. Keep reading

Meet the Akha tribes of Northern Laos

A young woman with a peculiar headdress enters the smoky dark room. She brings in a big tray covered with breakfast dishes: fried morning glory, fried noodles, a bamboo woven basket filled with steamy sticky rice, some chicken, and the homebrewed whiskey! A fire burns next to me in a small clay pot on the dirt floor, and despite the smoke that stings my eyes, I stay close to the welcomed heat source. Reluctantly, I move my little stool closer to the very low table on which the tray is set, joining our guide Sivangxai, the Ban Peryenxangkao village chief and his nephews. Here, in the ethnically diverse Northern Laos, Akha tribes live according to their ancient traditions far from modern civilisation. Keep reading

Rubber tapping in Thailand

Tall thin trees with only very few leafs are planted in perfectly aligned endless rows that cover hundreds of hectares of Thai soil. They provide a little bit of shade during the hot summer months, give off a slightly offending smell and supply their owners and their farmers with an income. We are talking rubber trees and are about to discover the ins and outs of rubber making.

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