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Splendid Vietnam & Cambodia 21 Days (2017)

Visits : HANOI - HALONG - HUE – DANANG-HOIAN - NHATRANG - HO CHI MINH - MEKONG DELTA - ANGKOR - PHNOM PENH

The following meals are included: B = Breakfast   L = Lunch   D = Dinner

Day 1 Montreal/ Toronto - STOP
Take the night flight from Montreal/ Toronto.

Day 2 STOP - HANOI
Connection flight to Hanoi.

Day 3 HANOI
Arrive in Hanoi in the afternoon, transfer to hotel and free at leisure.
Hotel: Hanoi Hotel Sofitel Plaza or similar (5 stars)

Day 4 HANOI (B L D)
After breakfast, take a rickshaw ride through the colonial neighborhood which is well and lovingly restored. Then visit the Mausoleum Ho Chi Minh and the One Pillar Pagoda. Dinner at Vietnamese Restaurant.

Day 5 HANOI - HALONG (Coach) (B L D)
After breakfast, visit the Temple of Literature, Văn Miếu, the first university founded in Vietnam in 1076, and the Hoan Kiem Lake. Transfer to Halong city - the Eighth Wonder of the Natural World, a promenade by the sea.
Hotel: Hotel Halong Plaza or similar (4 stars)

Day 6 HALONG BAY - HANOI (B L D)
After breakfast, take a cruise in the incredible scenery of Halong Bay, waters that teem with emeralds, nearly 3,000 islands and fantastically shaped limestone peaks. Return to Hanoi in the afternoon. Overnight stay at Hanoi.
Hotel: Hanoi Hotel Sofitel Plaza or similar (5 stars)

Day 7 HANOI - HUE (Flight) (B L D)
Transfer to airport after breakfast for morning flight to Hue, the former imperial capital of Nguyen Dynasty. Transfer to hotel upon arrival. Visit a village making conical hats in the afternoon.
Hotel: Hue Imperial Hotel or similar (5 stars)

Day 8 Hue (B L D)
Start the day with a sampan ride along the Perfume River, enjoy the landmark of the Hue with the old city and the Citadel on the north side and the newer city on the south side of the River. Follow by visiting Thien Mu Pagoda, the Tombs of Khai Dinh and Tu Duc.Then explore the Imperial Citadel: Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Hall of the Mandarins, Royal Library, Temple of Dynastic Urns, Hien Nhon Gate, Dongba market.

Day 9 HUE - DANANG - HOIAN (Coach) (B L D)
In the morning, transfer to Danang. Stops at the Beach LangCo, Col des Nuages (HaiVan) before reaching Danang. Visit the Cham Museum and Marble Mountain in Dangang. Continue to Hoian for 2 nights stay.
Hotel: Hoi An - Golden Sand Hotel or similar (5 stars)

Day 10 HOIAN (B L D)
A day devoted to visit Hoi An including the Old Quarter, the Japanese Bridge, ancient houses as Tan Ky House and Quan Thang House, congregations halls for Chinese expatriate residents as Hokien (Fujian) Meeting Hall (Phuc Kien), and the last to the market and the port for free shopping.

Day 11 HOIAN - DANANG (Coach) - NHA TRANG (Flight) (B L D)
In the morning, transfer to Danang airport for flight to Nhatrang, Vietnam’s most famous seaside resort-town. Transfer to hotel upon arrival. Relax the rest of day on crystal-white Nhatrang beach.
Hotel: Nha Trang Vinpeal Hotel or similar (5 stars)

Day 12 Nhatrang (B L D)
After breakfast, start the boat trip to the islands and fishing village in Nha Trang. Return to hotel and enjoy free time at the beach.

Day 13 Nhatrang - Ho CHI MINH CITY (Flight) (B L D)
Transfer to the airport for flight departing to Ho Chi Minh City. City tour in Ho Chi Minh city.
Hotel: Sofitel Plaza or similar (5 stars)

Day 14 HO CHI MINH - CUCHI - HO CHI MINH (B L D)
Day trip to Cu Chi Tunnel - discover the historic network of tunnels used during wartime for survival. Return to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 15 My THO - MEKONG DELTA (BLD)
Depart for My Tho (80km), capital of the province of Tien Giang. The Mekong River, which originates in the Himalayas, a journey of 4500km and empties into the East China Sea through nine arm (nine dragons) forming the Mekong Delta. Visit Vinh Trang Pagoda and walk to the market. Lunch at local restaurant. A boat ride on one arm of the river and its many canals, which form a network of several hundreds of kilometers, will take you to the Thoi Son Island, famous for its exotic fruit orchards. Discover the island on foot and tasting fruits. Return to Ho Chi Minh City at night.

Day 16 HO CHI MINH - SIEM REAP (Flight) (B L D)
Visit the Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post office and the War Remnants Museum. Lunch at local restaurant. Transfer to the airport in the afternoon for flight to Siem Reap and transfer to the hotel.
Hotel: Siem Reap Meridian Resort and Spa or similar (5 stars)

Day 17 ANGKOR (B L D)
Full day devoted to visit Angkor Thom, the ancient capital. Explore Angkor Thom through its majestic doors, monumental Temple of Bayon Towers, Baphuon Phimeanakas, Terraces of Elephants and Leper King. In the afternoon, visit the famous temple of Angkor Wat, an architectural marvel of balanced and refined.

Day 18 ANGKOR (B L D)
Continuation of your visit to Angkor. Visit the enchanting Banteay Srei, the apogee of Khmer classical art, with its magnificent red sandstone bas-relief, visit Banteay Samre (13th century) and Pre Rup (10th century). In the afternoon, visit the immense maze of Preah Khan, Neak Pan and the beautiful and mysterious Ta Prohm invaded by the roots of strangler fig trees.

Day 19 ANGKOR - PHNOM PENH (Flight) (B L D)
Flight to Phnom Penth, capital of Cambodia. Visit Wat Phnom, National Museum, the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Then to the Central Market before the boat ride at the confluence of the Tonle Sap Lake and the Mekong River.
Hotel: Raffles Le Royal or similar (5 stars)

Day 20 PHNOM PENH (B) - STOP
After breakfast, transfer to airport for flight back home.

Day 21 STOP - Montreal/ Toronto
Connection flight to Montreal/ Toronto.















* The deposit will be $2000/person to book this trip. (The deposit is non-refundable, nor changeable nor transferable)
* Departure is guaranteed, if there are 15 people or above in this group.
* Please note that infant (under age 2 at the return date of trip) does not have his/her own seat on the plane.
* Please note that most travellers need a valid entry document such as visa to visit destination countries. Sinorama holds no liability for the customs delay or rejection.

Price valid until April 03 2017

 
Price includes:
* International air ticket and airport transfer service;
* Domestic transportation (air, coach);
* Full board (including local specialties);
* 5 star hotels or local best (Halong 4 star);
* Entrance fees;
* Service charge for all guides, bus drivers and hotel porter fees;
* English speaking tour guides;
* Boat trip in Halong, Hue, NhaTrang, Mekong;
* Taxes and fuel surcharges;
Price does not include:
* Vietnam Visa application fee (single entry for Canadian passport holder): $160 p.p.( fees are subject to change);
* Cambodia e-visa application fee (single entry for Canadian passport holder): $70 p.p.( fees are subjected to changes);
* Postal fees;
* Travel insurance;

Sofitel Plaza Hanoi (5 Stars)

  Savour a 5-star hotel experience with the best views in the city. Sofitel Plaza Hanoi enjoys a spectacular location rising up between the watery expanses of Truc Bach Lake, West Lake and the Red River with inspiring, uninterrupted panoramas.

    Gaze out upon magnificent vistas from the frameless panoramic windows of each luxury hotel room and suite. Within their elegant interiors, enjoy a clean, contemporary aesthetic blended with beautiful Vietnamese touches in lamps and stately furnishings.

    Business travellers will find the hotel a welcome respite - with modern accommodation; expert business services; an exceptional executive club; fantastic restaurants and bars; and a beautiful location just moments from Hanoi's Old Quarter.

    Likewise, leisure travellers delight in the hotel's perfect balance of luxury and convenience. This unique character also attracts a number of meetings and events - hosted in the hotel's fantastic conference venue and one-of-a-kind function spaces.

    Stay in a landmark of the city, boasting newly renovated rooms, dining outlets, ballroom and function venues, with tranquil waters at your doorstep and the attractions of the Old Quarter and city monuments just a short drive away.


HALONG PLAZA HOTEL (4 STARS)

    Halong bay is the most enchanting place in the world. Halong bay is world natural heritage; come to Halong for vacation holiday to choose accommodation at Halong Plaza Hotel is guarantee peaceful of your mind. Hotel’s goal is providing "Four Star Service" to very guests with all the best of 4 stars hotel can. Our friendly and well-trained staffs offer special attentive service to all the guests. Absolutely you will feel like royalty at Halong Plaza Hotel!

    Halong Plaza Hotel is standing on Halong city center, near the Bai Chay Ferry Station, with convenient access to Bai Chay Beach & Wharf and Hongai Administration Center. Halong Plaza Hotel are facing down the beach, lush green tropical plants at back ground, breathtaking views of the bay and its numerous islets that made Halong Plaza become splendid emerging from sea water.

    Our 12 story building hotel with 200 luxurious rooms and all are equipped special latest modern equipments. Halong Plaza Hotel offers special amenities found in most luxurious four star hotels such as live entertainment in a state of the art entertainment facility. There is also a state of the art conference room for business meetings. There is a bar, coffee and three four star international restaurants for you to choose from for your dining pleasure. Do not just take our word for it. Come experience it yourself. Give Halong Plaza Hotel a try on your next vacation, our occupancy rate speaks for itself. We run at 85% occupancy rate.

    There are 200 luxurious rooms are featuring suites and spacious deluxe and superior rooms, all providing up-to-date facilities and high-quality standards, interior designed is fit with western interior manner.


GOLDEN SAND (5 STARS)

    Designed in a traditional Vietnamese style with a contemporary twist for every imaginary comfort, Swiss-Belhotel Golden Sand Resort & Spa is a 5 star beach front resort in Hoi An comprising of eight Chalet like buildings housing 212 hotel rooms and suites, all with private balcony and are positioned throughout its lush tropical gardens for maximum seclusion.

    This Hoi An hotel is nestled within 4 hectares of glorious sand with a well designed landscaped garden surrounded by palm trees, frangipani and hibiscus giving its guest a serene, warmth and relaxing hideaway.

    The rooms at this resort are air conditioned and equipped with all the modern amenities and facilities. The rooms have king-size or twin beds, attached bathroom and terrace or a balcony, giving your accommodation in Hoi An a relaxing atmosphere.

    With a number of restaurants and cafeterias, dining in Hoi An is quite an extensive affair at this resort. The various restaurants here serve lip smacking cuisine in their platter. There is also a relaxing lounge at this hotel.

    For mixing pleasure with business, this Hoi An hotel has a fully equipped business centre and excellent conference facilities to suit the needs of the business travellers, making your meetings in Hoi An a success.

    Managed by Swiss-Belhotel International, The Swiss-Belhotel Golden Sand Resort in Hoi An is located very near to the magnificent beaches of Hoi An. The hotel is 40 minutes away from the Da Nang International Airport. The World Heritage site of Hoi An Town lies around 10 minutes away.


Hue-Imperial Hotel

    The Imperial hotel possesses 194 rooms, including 168 deluxe rooms, 20 suites, 01 Grand presidential suite and 03 apartments. All are well equipped with modern facilities. Among them are 36 non-smoking rooms located on the two floors. The rooms combine modern with classic elements, blending historic architectural details and earthy dcor. All rooms have classic and polished wooden floors, natural fabric, as well as classy furnishing. All have spectacular panoramic views of the serene Perfume River, the magnificent Ngu Binh Mountain and ancient monuments of the city.

    Royal Spa is the most high-class Spa and Beauty Salon in town with 7 treatment rooms. There are also 3-VIP private rooms with indoor pool and Jacuzzi facilities. After the whole day discovering the charming Hue city, come to indulge yourself in the Royal Spa and let our professional staffs relax your body and your mind, you'll be completely refreshed.CONCEPT OF ROYAL SPA

    Business Center The business center provides ADSL, wireless internet access, telephone, fax, photocopying, translation, computer rental and secretariat services.

    Swimming Pool & Gym At the height of 16 meters, the pool offers an open grand view of the city below. Snack and beverage of all kinds are served poolside. The fitness center next door is fully furnished with up-to-date exercise equipments.


Legende Hotel Saigon ( 5 Stars)

    Legend Hotel, Saigon combines natural beauty and sheer opulence to provide the best for the discerning traveler. The breathtaking resort setting and its distinctive architectural interior gives one a feeling of luxury and tranquility. Nestled in Saigon's scenic riverside area and within walking distance to major commercial addresses, the hotel is the perfect place for conducting business. The meeting and banquet facilities are well equipped to cater to your every need.

    A hotel that takes business and pleasure to heart, enjoy the best of Saigon while being pampered with superb accommodation and excellent service.


NHATRANG-VINPEAL SOFITEL HOTEL (5 STARS)

    The biggest and newest entrant to the Vietnam beach scene is the 500-rooms Sofitel VinPearl Resort - opened with Soft Opening on 25 Dec 2003. It is a five storey fronting the sea on a private bay below the hills. At 57,000sq.m, it will be Viet Nams largest tourism resort.

    The Sofitel VinPearl Resort is a 10-minute boat or hovercraft-ride from the jetty near Ana Mandara Resort. Guests will be brought up the crest of a hill by a Hawaiian tramcar, where they can confront the scale of the resort, before descending to their grand hideaway. The place may not appeal to all tastes but as an all-inclusive, private, Club Med sort of escape.

    The Sofitel VinPearl Resort situated on Hon Tre island, famous for its crystal white beaches and surrounding mountain valleys, sloping like birds? wings. Famed for its gorgeous beaches & turquoise waters, the area around Nha Trang is a popular destination for divers from all over the world. Nha Trang Bay was one of 29 places recognized by the World's Most Beautiful Bays.




Vietnamese Cuisine
    Vietnamese cuisine encompasses the foods and beverages of Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine features a combination of five fundamental taste elements (Vietnamese: ngũ vị) in the overall meal: spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth). Each Vietnamese dish has a distinctive flavor which reflects one or more of these elements. Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes utilize lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird's eye chili, lime and basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.


Regional variations
    The mainstream culinary traditions in all three regions of Vietnam share some fundamental features:Freshness of food: Most meats are only briefly cooked to preserve their original textures and colors. Vegetables are eaten fresh; if they are cooked, they are boiled or only briefly stir-fried.

    Presence of herbs and vegetables: Herbs and vegetables are essential to many Vietnamese dishes and are often abundantly used.

    Broths or soup-based dishes are common in all three regions.

    Presentation: The condiments that accompany Vietnamese meals are usually colorful and arranged in eye-pleasing manners.

    While sharing some key features, Vietnamese culinary tradition differs from region to region.

    In northern Vietnam, a colder climate limits the production and availability of spices. As a result, the foods here are often less spicy than those in other regions. Black pepper is used in place of chilies as the most popular ingredient to produce spicy flavors. In general, Northern Vietnamese cuisine is not bold in any particular flavor—sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, or sour. Most northern Vietnamese foods feature light and balanced flavors that result from subtle combinations of many different flavoring ingredients. The use of meats such as pork, beef, and chicken were relatively limited in the past. Freshwater fish, crustaceans, and mollusks—such as prawns, squids, shrimps, crabs, clams, mussels—are widely used. Many notable dishes of northern Vietnam are crab-centered (e.g., bún riêu). Fish sauce, soy sauce, prawn sauce, and limes are among the main flavoring ingredients. Being the cradle of Vietnamese civilization, northern Vietnam produces many signature dishes of Vietnam, such as c, bún riêu, and bánh cuốn, which were carried to central and southern Vietnam through the road of Vietnamese migration.

    The abundance of spices produced by central Vietnam’s mountainous terrain makes this region’s cuisine notable for its spicy food, which sets it apart from the two other regions of Vietnam where foods are mostly non-spicy. Once the capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam, Hue’s culinary tradition features highly decorative and colorful food, reflecting the influence of ancient Vietnamese royal cuisine. The region’s cuisine is also notable for its sophisticated meals constituted by many complex dishes served in small portions. Chili peppers and shrimp sauces are among the frequently used ingredients. Some Vietnamese signature dishes produced in central Vietnam are bún bò Huế and bánh xèo.

    The warm weather and fertile soil of southern Vietnam create an ideal condition for growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and livestock. As a result, foods in southern Vietnam are often vibrant and flavorful with liberal uses of garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs. Sugar is added to food more than in the other regions. The preference for sweetness in southern Vietnam can also be seen through the widespread use of coconut milk in southern Vietnamese cuisine. Vast shorelines make seafood a natural staple for people in this region.


Vietnamese conical hat
    Non la (palm-leaf conical hat) is a traditional symbol of Vietnamese people without age, sex or racial distinctions.
    Like many other traditional costumes of Vietnam, Non la has its own origin, coming from a legend related to the history of rice growing in Vietnam. The story is about a giant woman from the sky who has protected humankind from a deluge of rain. She wore a hat made of four round shaped leaves to guard against all the rain. After the Goddess was gone, Vietnamese built a temple to commemorate her as the Rain-shielding Goddess.
    Vietnamese tried to make a hat modeling after the Goddess' by stitching together palm leaves, which is now known as Non la. The image of Non la has become strongly associated with peasant lives from the paddy field to boat men and women.
    Non la is made out of such simple and available materials as palm leaves, bark of Moc tree and bamboo. Non la is abundantly sold and there are many traditional villages where tourists can get high quality conical hats. For example, the Chuong village – 30km South West of Hanoi, is best-known for its handmade palm-leaf conical hats for centuries. Especially, ‘Non bai tho’ (poem hat) – a famous Non of Hue, has a picture of bamboo or even lyric lines of verse under the leaf-layer sunk designs, which is only seen under the sunlight.


Incense making
    The custom of burning incense is an indispensable feature of the spiritual lives of Vietnamese people. It’s believed that an incense stick is a bridge that connects the afterlife with the real life. By lighting one we are inviting our ancestors back to the earth to re-visit us and enjoy whatever offerings we’ve laid out.
    With millions of people burning bunches of incense sticks in pagodas, temples, communal houses, or at family altars every single day, sometimes you wonder where on earth is producing enough of these sticks to keep all the ancestors, national heroes and deities happy.
    One village which specializes in producing incense sticks is Doc La in Hung Yen province, just 1.5km from the ancient town of Pho Hien. One month before Tet, the whole village is involved in the process. Old women and young children are all chipping in. On the main roads, down the narrow alleys, in the gardens and unplanted fields, all over town, there are bundles bright yellow and vivid red sticks everywhere.
    The local legend is that a well-mannered, hard working young woman called Mai from the village married a Chinese man. She left for her husband’s homeland and on her return she was sadden to see how her village and fallen on hard times. She had learned how to make incense in her husband’s homeland, so she decided to teach the villagers the craft so they could make a living.     Today, the production of incense sticks is a traditional and hereditary craft. Everyone has a different role in the process. Men grind or kneading the herbal powder up into a smooth doughy texture. More elderly villagers or children roll or wrap the joss-sticks up while women generally drying the incense.


Vietnamese Water Puppet (Mua Roi Nuoc)
History:
    Vietnamese Water Puppet originated from the Red River Delta of Vietnam in the tenth century. Some of the earliest troupes are in Nguyên Xá commune, Đông Hưng district, Thai Binh province. Water puppetry is deeply imbued with the cultural characteristics of the people of this area. This unique art first appeared around the 15th century, when post-harvest, artists who were also farmers would gather to perform and relax. The custom remains today in many localities in the Red River Delta such as Dao Thuc, Phu Da, Dong Ca, Nguyen Xa, Dong Ngu, Nhan Hoa and Nam Chan.

    In ancient Vietnam, the rural Vietnamese believed that spirits controlled all aspects of their life, from the kitchen to the rice paddies. That is the reason why the farmers in this region devised a form of entertainment and worship to satisfy these spirits. Water puppetry is the lively creation of farmers who spent their days in flooded rice fields. At some point, they discovered that the water was an excellent medium for puppetry: it not only concealed the puppeteers' rod and string mechanisms, but it also provided exciting effects like waves and splashes.

    When water puppetry became more popular, villages competed against each other with their puppet shows. This led puppet societies to be secretive and exclusive, including an initiation ceremony that involved drinking rooster blood.

    So far this art form has been unique to North Vietnam. Tourists can enjoy this kind of art all days in a week at Thang Long Puppet Theatre, which is the most well known one in Ha Noi.

Performance:
    For over a thousand years, performers in Vietnamese Water Puppet Theater’s feet have always suffered in cold and wet condition. Water puppetry is performed in a chest-deep pool of water, with the water's surface as a stage. The puppeteers stand behind a screen and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface.

    The puppet is carved out of wood and often weighs up to 15 kg. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers to control them. The appearance is of the puppets moving over the water. The puppets enter from either side of the stage, or emerge from the murky depths of the water. In the past when the rice fields were flooded the villagers would entertain each other using this puppet form.

    A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. Singers of Cheo (a form of opera) with origin in North Vietnam sing the songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets. Performances of up to 18 short scenes are usually introduced by a pig-tailed bumpkin known as Teu, and accompanied by a small folk orchestra. The musicians and the puppets interact during performance; the musicians may yell a word of warning to a puppet in danger or a word of encouragement to a puppet in need.

    Along with singing the atmosphere, while the decorations set the stage for each particula, traditional musical instruments like drums, wooden bells, cymbals, horns, two-string Chinese violins and flutes create r style of water puppetry. Researcher Nguyen Huy Hong believes that water puppetry combines sculpture, architecture, painting, music, stage and literature.

Content:
    The theme of the skits is rural and has a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. It tells of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told older generation to younger generation. Of which stories of the harvest, of fishing and of festivals are highlighted.

    The water also provides the best setting for the puppeteers' theme: day-to-day village life. Water puppets bring wry humor to scenes of farming, fishing, festival events such as buffalo fights, and children's games of marbles and coin-toss. Fishing turns into a game of wits between the fisherman and his prey, with the fisherman getting the short end (often capturing his surprised neighbor by mistake). Besides village life, scenes include legends and national history. Lion dogs romp like puppies while dragons exhale smoke and shoot sprays of water at the audience. Teu, a pig-tailed bumpkin, is the character who usually plays the role of introducing the performances. The introduction is always accompanied by a small folk orchestra. Spotlights and colorful flags adorn the stage and create a festive atmosphere.

    Legends and national history are also told through short skits. Many of the skits, especially those involving the tales of day-to-day living, often have a humorous twist.

    Water puppetry has always gone hand in hand with festivals. Each Lunar March 13, Bo Duong villagers hold village festival to commemorate their tutelary god. Aside from worship, the festival is also an opportunity for villagers to relax by watching water puppetry, taking in fireworks displays, flying kites and entering cock-fighting contests. The festival always attracts thousands of attendants. Village festivals are great wind down for farmers and artists alike.



Classical Cambodian Court Dance
    Classical Cambodian dance was one of the many art forms that the Khmers regard as well as associated with the royal Khmer court of many centuries ago. It is also one of the most highly expressive forms of art that still survive today. Court dance was not just a source of entertainment for the royal court. However it served many rituals whether public or private that continued right into the 20th century such as at coronations, funerals, honouring visiting head of state or for religious purposes. The dancers were often believed to be the medium between the gods that dwelled all around mankind, god-kings and mortals. Therefore court dance held many significant to the king, the people and the entire nation. The dancers would perform "boung soung" (paying respects to the heavenly deities) to promote and induce rain for plentiful crops better harvest, fertility to the land, peace and prosperity for the whole kingdom.

    Court dance was generally assumed to have developed in the 9th century under King Jayavarman II (802-850) having returned from Indonesia. He also established the devaraja (god-king) cult and founded the Khmer empire that was to last for several centuries. During the Angkorean period from the 9th - 15th century A.D. many monuments began to appear and so did Khmer art that included temple deities and apsaras (celestial nymphs) that guarded the temples and entertained the gods. During the classical Angkorean age from 10th century to 14th century. Elegant apsaras began to appear in their thousands on temple gates, bas-reliefs, pillars, pediments etc... The elegant nymphs were found especially carved on the temple of Angkor Wat under the reign of King Suryavarman II (1113-1150) that was to serve as his final resting place, as well as a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishnu. Angkor Wat also served as the finest example of Khmer art to the Khmer people.

    In the 11th century one king gave one of his Brahmans the gift of ," one hundred beautiful magnificently adorned women... fifty orchestras, copper cymbals, drums etc." While in the 13th century the great King Jayavarman VII gave a temple that he had just built , "a thousand dancers and in the rest of the temples that covered the empire a total of one thousand six hundred and twenty-two dancers".

    From the 15th century onwards, the Khmer Empire began to slowly decline, imposing temples were no longer constructed, and the imposing choreographic rituals slowly waned. A fatal blow came from it's neighbouring Siamese kingdom that used to be part of the Angkorean vassal state sacked the Khmer Empire's capital in 1431. Among their booty they took with them were: slaves, artisans, musicians and the entire royal dance troupe to their capital Ayuthaya. In the next four hundred years Cambodia entered the dark ages of it's history. Nothing is known about court dance until the middle of the 19th century under the reign of King Ang Duong (1796-1860) there saw the revival of Khmer arts. King Ang Duong was a patron of the arts, his kingdom flourished with artisans, sculptors, poets, literature, music and a royal dance troupe in his royal court. He set up his own dance troupe comprising of two troupes one female and one male. These two evolved separately into two different art forms that we see today. The male art form was supported by local governors and came to be known as lakhon khol (masked theatre). However the female troupe became the more dominant out of the two and came to be known was robam boran or lakhon kabach boran (royal court dance).

    In the 1970s with the overthrow of the royal monarchy Khmer court dance began to decline and worst was to come during the Khmer Communist Revolution known as the Khmer Rouge era from 1975-79. The Khmer people suffered so much under this four year period that was known as the "Killing Fields". So many people died under starvation, persecution and execution. Khmer culture also suffered especially court dance and many other art forms. What documents or manuscripts that were recorded were all destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. Those dancers who could flee to neigbhouring refugee camps in Thailand kept the tradition alive and those who stayed behind were killed off. By 1979 there revival of Khmer art began a slow and painstaking task of finding the surviving teachers and what documents that were available to keep the art form alive. The sad irony is that court dance 90 per cent of the dancers had vanished as well as many other art forms were rarely recorded or documented. Everything was passed down orally from teacher to student for many hundreds of years. Once the link had been broken it was hard to recover that link. A year later court dance only had about a handful students that were recruited from orphanages that were taught be a mere handful of teachers.

    During the reign of a new king a new dance troupe would be arranged by a matron of the royal court. Women were usually of royalty, relatives, concubines and wives. A woman according to her body type would be trained to play a single role. Tall and slender women would play male and female roles such as heroes and princess, while women with strong and large body types would play the roles of giants and villains. Men only had small roles such as clowns and hermits. It was later generation that the role of the monkey was played by men.

    Less than a decade later court dance was alive again with more than one hundred students learning this ancient traditional art form in Phnom Penh. The loss is still great with about a third of the dance repertoires- the steps- gesture, movements, narratives-survived intact. However there seemed to be a lot of support to see this art form ancient with such exquisite beauty and refinement that is rankemigration vietnamienne qui estˆ plus originaire de cetterd as just one of the world's oldest traditions.


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