Review: Hanami Buffet, Phnom Penh

If you’re looking to eat sushi and pizza until you’re uncomfortably full without breaking the bank, look no further than Hanami Buffet in BKK1. It’s not the best Japanese food you’ll get in town, but at only $6.50 for an all-you-can-eat lunch for four hours of non-stop pigging out, it’s the most Japanese food you’ll get (for this price, anyway).

sushi at Hanami Buffet Phnom Penh

Sushi, pizza and much more (than you can eat) at Hanami Buffet in BKK1.

There’s been lots of expat chatter about Hanami Buffet. Not surprising, because the array of food is pretty great. They have a pizza and pasta bar, where you can order mysterious pizzas such as the “curry taste” pizza, which was doused in sweet Japanese curry and corn. It was sort of disgusting but strangely addictive. The pastas are also somewhat disappointing but oddly compelling. We tried a salmon pasta that was bland except for the liberal chunks of salmon, an ingredient you don’t expect to see on a cheap buffet menu in Cambodia. It may have been flavorless, but didn’t stop us from finishing it, though.

Hanami also have a sushi carousel that had surprisingly decent sushi options. Much of it was the rice and cooked fish variety, but there were also pieces of salmon and one could easily get their money’s worth just sitting by the sushi track and hoovering piece after piece.

Noodle soup bar at Hanami Buffet

Hanami’s noodle soup bar. Get slurping.

There’s also a noodle soup bar with loads of fresh vegetables and soup options, a congee station and several other areas featuring different types of dishes. Most of the cuisine is Japanese, with a focus on Chinese and Japanese homestyle and izakaya dishes with lots of deep-fried and snacky goodies, including takoyaki (Japanese octopus ball), tempura, and deep-fried chicken feet that make the $1.50 free-flow Angkor beer option seem like a good choice.

Finish up with a selection of desserts, including cake and chocolate mousse. If you don’t feel sick by the time you’ve finished, you’re doing it wrong.

Hanami Buffet Phnom Penh

Hanami brings together the Japanese and Khmer cultures in a glorious celebration of gluttony.

The regular prices are $9 for lunch and $21 for dinner, but they are currently having a special with lunch for $6.50 and dinner for $16. Meals includes free-flow soda and tea, and for an extra $1.50, you can add free-flow Angkor beer.

Hanami Buffet certainly does not have the best Japanese food in town, but in terms of value for money, it can’t be beat. Get there relatively early for the best selection and be prepared to wash your hands before entering (don’t worry, they have purpose-built sinks for just this reason).

Hanami Buffet

Open daily, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Corner of Mao Tse Tung Blvd and Street 63, BKK1, Phnom Penh
T: 070 389 100
hanamirestaurant.eoi.com

How to get from Battambang to Phnom Penh (and vice-versa)

Battambang is about 180 miles (290 kilometers) away from Phnom Penh, a distance that can take you anywhere between four to seven hours to travel, depending on traffic, flooding, and how you choose to go. Here are our picks for going between Phnom Penh and Battambang.

Phnom Penh to Battambang

Getting between Phnom Penh and Battambang is easier than you might think!

Bus

All the bus companies in Battambang are located a few blocks north of Psar Nath, making it easy enough to visit to book yourself, though guesthouses and hotels can book for you as well, although they will often add an extra couple bucks to the price.

Capitol Tours is the best option of the big buses. The ticket costs 24,000 riel ($6) and takes between six and seven hours (don’t be fooled by the website saying it will get you there in five). There will be frequent stops to let people on and off the bus and you’ll be treated to Cambodia karaoke videos for the duration of the ride.

Siem Reap Battambang Capitol bus

Capitol Tours runs big buses between Phnom Penh to Battambang. Prepare for karaoke videos.

The Battambang bus station was recently moved just outside of town along National Road 5, but if you arrive at the Capitol office twenty minutes before your bus, they’ll take you to the station.

In Phnom Penh, the buses arrive and leave from Capitol Guesthouse near Orussey Market.

Capitol Tours schedule:
Battambang to Phnom Penh: 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m. (Friday only), 4:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m. (Sunday only)

Phnom Penh to Battambang: 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.

Mini-bus

Mini-buses offer complimentary pick-up if you book at a guesthouse or a hotel. They take between four to five hours to reach Phnom Penh, make one stop for a meal in Pursat, and occasionally another stop for a brief bathroom break or to refuel.

Golden Bayon Express Battambang Phnom Penh

By mini-bus is the fastest way to get from Phnom Penh to Battambang.

Regardless of which mini-bus you take, book a seat closer to the front of the bus rather than further back, as there are some rough spots on the highway where the ride in the back of the bus is quite bumpy.

As you enter Phnom Penh, there may be a few stops to let some Cambodian people off on the side of the road.

As you enter Battambang, there is usually one stop on the east side of the river before crossing the bridge to the west side, where the bus company offices are.

At $12, Mekong Express is the most expensive but also the most comfortable of the mini-bus options. It offers the most leg space, so tall people should consider Mekong Express if they often feel cramped by other options. Note that they will play karaoke videos for the duration of the trip.

In Phnom Penh, Mekong Express drops you off at its office close to Orussey Market, which is convenient for avoiding the worst of Phnom Penh’s traffic. If your guesthouse is somewhere close to the river, however, it will still be a bit of a tuk tuk ride to get there.

Golden Bayon Express charges $10 per person (sometimes you can go to a travel agent on Riverside in Phnom Penh and get that down to $9, but when booking in Battambang to go to Phnom Penh it always seems to be $10), and usually leaves on time.

Though not as spacious as Mekong Express mini-buses, their buses are clean and relatively comfortable, unless you are squished in the back row with three others (again, ask for a seat closer to the front). It also features free WiFi in their buses that sometimes works, but more often doesn’t.

Golden Bayon Express Phnom Penh

The interior of a Golden Bayon mini-bus between Phnom Penh and Battambang.

Their office in Phnom Penh is close to Central Market, a bit more centrally located than Mekong Express’ office.

Mekong Express schedule:
Battambang to Phnom Penh: 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m
Phnom Penh to Battambang: 5:30 a.m., 6:20 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 11:30 pm

Golden Bayon schedule:
Battambang to Phnom Penh: 7:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Phnom Penh to Battambang: 7:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Taxi

A private taxi costs around $60 and takes about four hours. You can hire a private taxi through a hotel or guesthouse. Keep in mind the trunk may not be empty, as the driver may be transporting something to Phnom Penh. Taxis are usually Toyota Camrys that can seat four passengers, although it can be a tight squeeze.

Share taxis depart from northwest of Boeung Chhouk market, on National Road 5, and are usually $10 per seat. Note that the front seat beside the driver is considered two seats, so if you want to have that seat to yourself you’ll probably have to pay $20.

Capitol Tours

capitolkh.com
Ticket Offices: La Hte Street (at Street 103), Battambang [map]
T:053 953 040; 011 956 105; 012 991

14AEO Street 182, Phnom Penh [map]
T: 023 724 104; 023 217 627

Mekong Express

catmekongexpress.com

Ticket offices: Corner of Road 3 and Street 111, just north of Psar Nhat, Battambang [map]
T: 069 885 959

Booking office outside Orussey Market, Phnom Penh [map]
T: 012 787 839; 098 833 399; 023 427 518

Golden Bayon Express

goldenbayonexpress.com

Ticket offices: Street 101, between La He St and Road 3, Battambang [map]
T: 070 968 966; 089 279 909

3Eo Street 51/126, Psar Thmei, Phnom Penh [map]
T: 023 966 968; 089 221 919; 010 968 966

How to get from Siem Reap to Battambang (and vice-versa)

Battambang and Siem Reap are two of the nicest spots that Northwestern Cambodia has to offer, and each is worth visiting. Battambang and Siem Reap are only 48 miles (77 km) apart, but the trip can take as long as four hours due to the fact that there’s no direct road–all of the buses route through Sisophon–and up to ten hours by boat. Here we cover how to get from Siem Reap to Battambang (and vice-versa), including boat, taxi and bus.

Street in Battambang

Seen Siem Reap? Now it’s time for Battambang.

Boat

Boats between Siem Reap to Battambang leave at 7:00 a.m. each day in either direction. The trip takes between eight and ten hours, depending on the season andhow high the water level is, and which direction you are going; the trip from Battambang to Siem Reap is shorter than the other way around. The views are gorgeous, passing by many small fishing villages, allowing visitors to get a sense of life on Cambodia’s riverside. If you’re considering taking the boat, know that the wet season is the best time to take it due to higher water levels, but be sure to bring both sunblock and some sort of rain protection (you can get cheap ponchos for 2,000 riel at any small shop). Also be aware that the boats do not have any sort of safety standards and wouldn’t pass any safety tests back home. Tickets cost $20 per person and it’s possible to book the entire boat for private trips.

Taxi

Private taxis cost $35 or $40 to go from Siem Reap to Battambang or vice-versa. As with most taxis in Cambodia, the preferred vehicle is the Toyota Camry which can fit four passengers, but it can be a tight squeeze and the trunk is rarely empty, so if you have more than three people, travel light. You can hire a taxi through any local guesthouse or travel agent for $40, but if you go direct (as a tuk tuk driver for his taxi driving pal’s number) the trip will cost $35. The trip takes two or two-and-a-half hours.

Siem Reap Battambang Capitol bus

Capitol Tours runs buses between Siem Reap to Battambang. Be warned, ticket prices are often inflated!

Bus

Unfortunately mini-buses, which shaved an hour off the total drive time, are no longer running on the Battambang-Siem Reap route. Currently there are several full-size bus companies doing this route, all of them of the crappy local variety. Bus tickets cost between $4.50 and $5, but there can be as much as 100% markup at local travel agents and guesthouses, particularly on the Siem Reap side. It’s quite easy to go directly to the bus company ticket office and purchase your ticket yourself to save a couple of bucks.

Capitol Tours is the best of the bunch, with tickets quite reasonably priced at 18,000 riel ($4.50) for both locals and foreigners. Their fleet of 42-seat buses bedecked with colorful curtains are aging but still in decent condition. You’ll be treated to Khmer karaoke videos for the duration of the journey, an excellent insight into local culture. They tend to leave 15 minutes late and the trip takes between three and three-and-a-half hours.

Capitol Tours bus Siem Reap Battambang

The interior of a Capitol Tours bus between Siem Reap and Battambang. Karaoke not pictured.

The price of your ticket includes free mini-bus pickup. The bus depots in both Siem Reap and Battambang are not particularly central, so you can go to the Capitol offices in either town (we have links to maps below) and they’ll transport you to the station.

For buses that arrive in Battambang, there will be another bus waiting that says ‘Pick up Bus’ on the side that will take you into town, or you can take a tuk tuk from the station. You can also get a tuk tuk from the Battambang bus station; the drivers offer a discounted rate of $1 for tourists, but if they know that you’re not planning on doing any day tours, they will push for the “real” rate of $2 or $3. For buses that arrive in Siem Reap, you can easily get a tuk tuk or moto to town for a couple of bucks.

Capitol Tours Schedule:

Siem Reap to Battambang: 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Battambang to Siem Reap: 7:45 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.

Capitol Tours

capitolkh.com

Ticket Offices: La Hte Street (at Street 103), Battambang [map]
T:053 953 040; 011 956 105; 012 991

663 Street 10 (at corner of Street 9), Siem Reap [map]
T: 063 963 883; 092 277 311; 011 600 963

How to find housing in Battambang

So you’ve decided to move to Battambang. Welcome! Be warned it may require patience to find a home that will suit your needs, as the best places tend to be passed from expat to expat like family heirlooms. That said, there are some great houses and apartments to be had in Battambang.

Battambang house rental

Wondering how to make the move to Battambang? Here’s how to find a place to live.

In terms of location, your main two considerations are how close to the center of town you want to be, and which side of the river you want to be on. The closer to Psar Nath, the more central the location, and accordingly more expensive.

Battambang is a small city, so nothing is far, but most restaurants and markets are located on the west side of the Sangker River, and while nowhere is immune from flooding in the rainy season, the flooding can be a bit worse on the east side.

Studio apartments without a kitchen can be found for as little as $50 a month, while a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen in the center of town goes for between $100-$150 per month.

Entire houses can be rented for between $100-$300, depending on location and amenities.

Battambang wooden house

Start dreaming about your future. This Khmer wooden house would go for about $250 a month in Battambang.

For example, a one-bedroom, one-bathroom wooden house with Khmer-style kitchen, air conditioning and hot water (pictured) goes for around $250, while a Khmer-style shophouse with one bedroom, two bathrooms, and bucket toilets, no air conditioning, hot water or kitchen, is around $120 per month.

Not every home has air conditioning or hot water, so if those amenities are important to you, be sure to ask if the home has them. Very few homes have washing machines and even fewer have ovens, so if you want these appliances, you may need to buy them yourself.

There are three main ways people find housing in Battambang.

Battambang Connect

Battambang Connect is a Google Group that serves as a forum to connect those in and around Battambang. Register as a member and you can post that you are looking for housing and see any ‘for rent’ postings from other members.

Realtor

Another option is Battambangimmo, which serves as a realtor, but fair warning that they do not often have many listings, largely because most homes are found through….

Word of mouth

Many apartments get snatched before they have the chance to be posted on Battambang Connect or listed with a realtor. The majority of expats find housing through others, so make friends with some expats when you arrive.

Go to popular expat hangouts like Kinyei or Jaan Bai (both popular with the English crowd), Choco l’Art (popular with the French crowd) or Here Be Dragons (popular with whomever’s around) and advertise the fact that you’re looking for a place to live. Someone will know someone who is leaving, and be able to give you tips on what apartments may be available.

Don’t be too shy to tell your colleagues that you’re looking. Khmer colleagues in particular may know of cheap places.

If you’re really stuck, or in Battambang for a short period of time and want to find something immediately, Chhaya Hotel has serviced apartments that include kitchenettes and balconies for $300 a month and Coconut House have rooms with kitchenettes for between $150 and $270 a month.

Good luck!

Kinyei

Street 1.5, Battambang
T: 017 860 003
kinyei.org

Jaan Bai

Street 2, Battambang
T: 086 505 954
cambodianchildrenstrust.org/jaan-bai

Choco l’Art Café

Street 117, Battambang
T: 010 661 617

Here Be Dragons

Street 159D, Battambang
T: 089 264 895
herebedragonsbattambang.com

Chhaya Hotel

118 Street 3, Battambang
T: 053 952 170
chhayahotel.com

Coconut House

Street 300, Battambang
T: 053 665 5447; 012 955 447

How to get to and from Sihanoukville Airport

Showing up at a strange airport in a strange country is, for most people, a stressful experience. Luckily, Sihanoukville Airport is so small that there’s almost nothing to worry about. There are limited options for getting from Sihanoukville Airport into town, but it’s best to have an idea in advance of what your plan is.

Sihanoukville Airport Cambodia

The Sihanoukville Airport is small but perfectly formed.

The Sihanoukville Airport is located approximately 12 miles (20km) north of Sihanoukville, on Route 4. Only four planes per week that land there, all of them Cambodia Angkor Air’s Siem Reap to Sihanoukville flights.

Getting from the Sihanoukville Airport into town

Because there are so few flights, there aren’t a lot of options for getting from the airport into Sihanoukville, and the prices are pretty fixed (and not particularly good value). Sihanoukville is known to have the most extortionate tuk tuk drivers in the country. They’ve formed a “union” which is little more than a mafia that uses price-fixing and extortion of other drivers to keep prices artificially high. For this reason, even if you see a tuk tuk at the airport, we recommend you avoid them.

If you have three people or fewer, the best option is the Sihanoukville Airport shuttle bus. Tickets cost $6 per person and will drop you off in any area of town you wish to go, including all of the big hotels and popular beaches. When you exit the airport, before heading out the door is a ticket counter where you can purchase tickets for the shuttle. The bus waits for about 20 minutes after each flight, but they do not solicit passengers. Meaning, don’t stand around waiting for someone to ask you if you want to take the shuttle. Just go buy a ticket and hop on. The trip to Sihanoukville takes about 20 minutes.

Sihanoukville Airport Shuttle Cambodia

The Sihanoukville Airport shuttle. Could be worse.

Depending on where you are staying, they will drop you at your specific hotel or in the general area. If you are staying on Serendipity/Ochheuteal Beach, for example, they will not drop you at your hotel, but rather at the top of Serendipity Beach Road and you will need to make your own way from there. If you’re staying on one of the beaches and you already have a hotel booked, you should bring a map or have an idea of where your hotel is before boarding the bus. We recommend the detailed and free Canby maps, which can be downloaded online or found in many businesses around town.

It’s important to note that the shuttle does not serve Otres Beach, so if you’re heading that way you’ll need to be dropped off at Ochheuteal Beach and make your way from there by tuk tuk.

If you have four or more people, you’ll save money by taking a taxi. The going rate is usually around $20. Remember, it’s only 12 miles (20 km). If the driver asks for more than $20, he’s just price-gouging you. Personally, I’d rather get on the shuttle than deal with most of the drivers in Sihanoukville, but the choice is, as always, yours.

Sihanoukville Airport arrivals Cambodia

The Sihanoukville Airport arrivals terminal is not particularly busy, with only four incoming flights each week.

Getting from town to the Sihanoukville Airport

If you’ve read the above, you can pretty much follow the same directions but in reverse. For three people or fewer, take the shuttle bus. You can book a ticket at most guesthouses or any local travel agent, I’ve used Best Beach Travel (T: 015 678 924) and the shuttle will pick you up at a pre-determined point, either your hotel or the travel agent’s office. You can also call the shuttle directly on the number listed below.

Taxis can also be booked through any travel agent and most guesthouses for $20. Taxis are older Toyota Camry’s and most do not have a lot of trunk space, so if you are four people with a lot of baggage, you may be better off taking the shuttle.

As mentioned above, tuk tuks are usually extortionate in Sihanoukville and are best avoided.

Sihanoukville Airport Shuttle

by Ravy Angkor Tours
T: 016 600 661
ravyangkortours.com

Cambodia scams: The powdered milk scam

If you’ve been to Siem Reap’s Pub Street, undoubtedly you’ve been approached by a bedraggled young mother or child holding an empty baby bottle and toting a sleepy-looking infant. “The baby is hungry,” they plead. “I’m not asking for money, just formula for my baby.”

Powdered milk scam Siem Reap

Got scammed? Don’t fall for the powdered milk scam in Cambodia.

Every night, well-intentioned tourists fall for this scam, thinking that the $30 canister of formula they are buying is going to feed that drowsy baby, allowing both she and her caretaker to head home. Unfortunately, that’s not really what’s going on. All of the formula that’s purchased is promptly returned, with the proceeds being split with the store (Huy Meng Minimart under X Bar on Sivatha Blvd at the bottom of Pub Street is a favorite).

Now you may be reading this and wondering what’s the big deal? This desperately poor family is getting some much-needed income, so why does it matter if they trade the formula for cash?

The truth is much darker. Local expats speculate that the baby-beggars are run by a mafia of sorts. If you get a cup of coffee on Pub Street in the early evening before sunset, you’ll see seven or eight young women descend on the street at the exact same time, each of them carrying a bleary-eyed baby slung to her hip, many of them blowing cigarette smoke in their faces. Women don’t always carry the same baby, indicating that the babies are merely rented or borrowed for the night. Many of the babies are carried by older children and the babies are uncharacteristically docile.

Siem Reap milk scam

Children and women carrying babies all descend on Pub Street at the same time, carrying half-empty bottles.

Local child protection organizations say that they haven’t seen evidence that the babies are drugged, but it seems entirely possible in order to assure their pliability and make them seem more pathetic and sympathetic. Personally, there’s only one baby I’ve seen on Pub Street that seems alert, the rest are scarily mellow, especially when one considers the fact that they are there for up to 12 hours at a time.

Expats who have tried to warn tourists that are falling for the scam have been threatened with violence. When a young girl carrying a baby asked me to buy her milk recently and I declined, she scratched and pinched my arm. It’s not hard to imagine the desperation these young women must feel–after all, they likely need to pay for the baby they are renting and if the mafia theory is correct, their handlers may be watching to make sure they bring in enough money each night.

For tourists, handing over $20 or $30 to buy a can of formula is a quick, feel-good experience. Just a few days ago I saw a tourist taking photos of himself posing with a canister of formula and the bedraggled street kid he was buying it for. He probably went straight back to his hotel to post about the experience on Facebook, and no doubt received an appreciative response from his friends, who were just as clueless about the reality of the situation as he.

powdered milk Cambodia

This baby formula has probably already been bought and returned several times today.

But there are more reasons than just losing their money that tourists shouldn’t be participating in this scam. For one, think of the babies. These babies are likely being drugged, kept up all night and even being deprived of food to make them look more desperate. Toddlers that are swaddled for hours upon hours long after the age of infanthood do not learn to walk properly. And tourists are the ones supplying the demand for these abused babies. If no one was willing to reward these scammers, they would have no motivation to keep these babies on the street.

“The scam is a albeit slightly more lucrative version of begging,” James Sutherland of Friends International, explains. “Poor mothers and vulnerable infants are always at risk on the streets, and scams like these keep them there, day in, day out.”

Children are also used in this scam, often toting the babies themselves. Because they have more value as beggars or scammers, they are kept on the streets all night, instead of sleeping and going to school in the mornings. When poor families have financial incentive to keep their children out of school–especially when there are addiction or gambling problems in the home–many choose to keep their children on the street.

Cambodia milk scam

Just say no to sleepy babies in Siem Reap.

Recently in Thailand a gang of children selling roses on a busy nightlife street were discovered to be trafficked, sold or rented by their families and then never heard from again. It’s hard not to think that if tourists just said “no,” this market in child beggars would not be so prolific.

Buying formula does not help these babies, it does quite the opposite. Buying powdered milk (or, indeed, buying anything from children on the street) only gives their parents reason to keep those children on the street. In this case, where it appears that a much more sinister situation exists than families merely begging for money, you must understand that by participating in any way, you are contributing to the abuse of these children.

“We believe that well-meaning people should not perpetuate that cycle, but should rather direct their attention to getting families like these off the streets and out of poverty and that can be done by supporting organizations working to do that, with education, training and income generation programs,” James Sutherland of Friends International, a local child-protection organization, told us.

What should you do if asked to buy formula for a baby?

Just say NO. Tell your travel companions and guesthouse about the scam. The more people that know about it, the less prevalent it will become. Familiarize yourself with Friends International’s ChildSafe Traveler Tips, who suggest that you not give to child beggars, buy postcards or items from children selling on the street or visit orphanages in Cambodia.

Support young expat writers on Beacon

Expats move to Cambodia for a plethora of reasons: to set up new businesses, teach English, even retire. But the expats that move to Cambodia to pursue their creative dreams are the ones closest to my heart, if only because they are setting themselves up for a long, hard slog. That’s why I was delighted to see that there are two young writers flogging their work on Beacon Reader, a new site that allows readers to directly sponsor a writer’s work. This is exciting news for writers, who usually have editors (who answer to advertisers) act as the gatekeeper of their work before it reaches an audience. Beacon sidesteps that system, and allows readers to directly support the writers they want to read.

Allison Jane Smith Cambodia

Help support Allison Jane Smith to write more about Cambodia.

“Beacon is great because it allows readers to support writers and journalists directly, and also lets them provide direct feedback to writers on what types of stories they find interesting,” Battambang-based expat Allison Jane Smith explains. “This makes for more diverse topics and types of writing than can often be found in mainstream publications.”

You may already be familiar with Allison Jane Smith’s work on this blog, where she has been bringing us the best of Battambang. Allison is a 25-year-old Canadian writer and poet based in Battambang, where she spends her time writing narrative non-fiction about life in Cambodia, including this recent piece where she writes about what it’s like to be white…no, really white, blindingly “squawking egret” white, in Cambodia.

Allison’s work on Beacon sidesteps the usual “blah blah genocide” narrative that many writers feel compelled to tell when they write about Cambodia. Instead she writes about topics like attaining nirvana in Cambodian traffic, Cambodia’s best barista competition, and about her experiences with Pchum Ben, the religious ceremony that feeds dead spirits.

“I write about Cambodia because while it is a fascinating and complex country, it is often portrayed in a simplistic way to foreign audiences,” Allison explains. “I write stories about Cambodia that go beyond these simple narratives.”

Allison posts new stories about life in Cambodia every few weeks (and has a new one going up today). To get access to Allison’s work, you can sign up to Beacon for as little as $5 a month, which will also give you access to every other story on Beacon.

Sponsor Allison Jane Smith’s stories about Cambodia

Faine Greenwood is a 25-year-old American who was only able to tear herself away from her life in Cambodia when offered the chance to study journalism at Stanford. She has lived in Cambodia off and on since 2008, and spent her time here wryly observing the expat scene. She’s been putting together a comic series that’s a satiric look at expat life in Phnom Penh called ‘Into the Wild.’

Faine Greewood Cambodia

Doesn’t this sound eerily familiar? Sponsor Faine Greenwood to finish her expat comic series.

“Cambodia’s remarkably biodiverse population of foreign transplants inspired me to draw a guide that would help newcomers identify the different types,” Faine told me via email. “Also, I like making fun of people by drawing pictures of them.”

Faine already has a few expat comics on her website, but through Beacon you can sponsor her for as little as $5 a month to finish the entire illustrated field guide to the global expatriate community. It’s sure to be hilarious, and at the higher sponsorship levels she’ll even send you a comic of you as your own expat type.

Sponsor Faine Greenwood’s expat comic ‘Into the Wild’