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Big Top Circus at Battambang Sep 29, 2014

Big Top Circus at Battambang

Show Title: Tchamlaek (Weird)
GPS waypoint: N13°06.723 E103°11.168
Organization: Phare Ponleu Selpak
Location: Anh Chanh village, Ochar Commune, Battambang, Kingdom of Cambodia
Phone: +855 77 554 413

Valentin Sam
At the Vipassana meditation course, I met a fellow server (someone who has completed at least a one 10-day sit and chooses to serve this time, instead of sitting), Valentin Sam. He worked hard like everyone else and makes it a point to help out if he gets a few days holiday from work. I became friends with him. When I asked him what I can do in Battambang after the course, he mentioned the circus. Better yet, he added that he works for Phare Ponleu Selpak, the company that organized it. How cool is that?

Phare Ponleu Selpak
With Tuyen, a fellow Vietnamese Vipassana server (Valentin, Tuyen and I all served at the course), we met up with Valentin and was toured around the grounds of Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Phare Ponleu Selpak is much more than a circus act. It aims to restore Cambodia's lost culture and identity eroded by the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge. They help the youth develop creativity through the arts - music, contemporary and traditional dancing, visual arts, theater, circus, animation, graphic design and illustration.

Circus Show
The show was both engaging and intimate. The locals presented their developed skills in the many facets of the circus - balancing, parkour, acrobatics, music, body bending, vaudeville acts, etc. Moreover, the story line stayed true along the lines of their culture and history. The rave reviews I read in a few online publications were not exaggerated.

Ending Thoughts
The good thing about seeing this circus act is that you not only see exceptional talent, but you also provide a building block in the development of their community. Purchasing their art work (as displayed in another section of the compound), the admission fees, or even enrolling in some courses, all pave the way to the marginal gains they need in building back what was once theirs but tragically lost.

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Exploring more of Battambang

me and Tuyen, meeting up with Valentin Sam for dinner at the Chinaman's noodle-pulling resto visiting the Studio Arts center of Phare Ponleu Selpak Valentin emceeing the circus show one-hand handstand 20 feet up
handstand scorpion comedic skit, vaudeville style acrobatics parkour somersault
standing ovation learning a few things from the masters    

FYI / Tips

  • because it is a night time event, it's a perfect way to wrap the day after a full day of activities

How to Get to Big Top Circus

  1. Phare Ponleu Selpak lies within the outskirt of Battamband (see map), but still just a short Tuk-Tuk ride away. Tuk Tuks usually wait for you until after the show.

More Information about Battambang

Cambodia Blogs by TheLoneRider

Facebook Users
Sep 29, 2014

»» next story: Umbrella Monk
»» next Traveling story: Exploring Battambang
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