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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Put Vietnam and Cambodia on your clients' wish list

Creative Holidays has released the first of its programs for 2012, starting with the captivating destinations of Vietnam and Cambodia. The brochure sets the tone for Creative’s 2012 offering, with unique experiences, flexible options and product to suit all budgets and styles.

Due to strong demand for the destination, the Creative Holidays 2012 Vietnam and Cambodia brochure includes 20 new properties and two new river cruising experiences, including Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ 14-night Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia and The Mekong.

Paul McGrath, Managing Director, Creative Holidays said, “Vietnam and Cambodia are destinations in which Creative has witnessed considerable growth in recent years. As such, we are catering for growing client demand with a huge selection of accommodation, transport, sightseeing day tours and cruising options on offer.
“In particular, the new brochure includes an increase in properties in Hoi An and Danang, as both destination continue to develop into tourism hotspots. We’ve sourced high quality properties such as the Boutique Resort Hoi An, an intimate, heritage-rich property and the five-star Vinpearl Luxury Resort in Danang, situated on Non Nuoc Beach in front of the majestic Marble Mountain Range.

“In Hanoi we have also included a new small three-star hotel, The Maison D’Hanoi Hanova. This lovely boutique property is well located just a short walk from the famous Hoan Kiem Lake and Hanoi’s major attractions.

“Catering to the growing demand in Vietnamese cruising, we’ve addedUniworld’s 14-night Timeless Wonders cruise which not only explores the Mekong and Cambodia by river cruise, but also includes three-nights at either end of the trip in both Saigon and Hanoi.

“Another fantastic new option, which is perfect for couples after romance, is the Life Heritage Halong Bay overnight cruises. Built for just two people, this is a fantastic product for clients who are keen to explore this stunning World Heritage area in the privacy of their own personal Junk boat.

“We are also giving clients more options in Cambodia, with the addition of new properties including The Intercontinental Hotel Phnom Penh, The City River View Siem and
Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap.

“Plus, we offer great-value independent touring options in Cambodia which combine accommodation, transport, dining, sightseeing fees and guides. A good option for clients after a culturally enriching holiday is the four-night In Depth Angkor and Cambodian Culture tour that highlights the history and culture, visiting many temples and traditional sites throughout the region.

“In 2012, we truly believe we are providing something for everyone in Vietnam and Cambodia. Our increased inventory allows us to provide plenty of flexibility, extensive choice and value for money product across the board, catering for all types of clients.

“Vietnam and Cambodia are fantastic destinations for agents to sell to clients. Not only is it a region which provides great value shopping, pristine resort-style beaches and delicious cuisine, it also delivers an extremely fascinating blend of culture, history and unspoilt natural settings”.

Some of the fantastic value new options in the 2012 brochure include;

· Creative Holidays' private one-night Life Heritage Halong Bay cruise. Priced from $318 per person, twin share. This unique experience allows clients to discover Halong Bay from their own private vessel, once they set sail, it’s just them and the crew. The vessel has a spacious cabin, covered dining terrace and sun deck. Included in this package is overnight accommodation all to yourself in a deluxe cabin, all meals on board, sightseeing and entrance fees and return private transfers from Hanoi hotels.

Creative Holidays' four-nightIn Depth Angkor and Cambodian Culture Independent Tour.Priced from $513 per person, twin share (land only). Clients will experience the best of Cambodia’s fascinating culture highlights including; visiting the South Gate of Angkor Thom; marvelling at Angkor Wat; watching the sunrise over the Angkor temples; visiting the famous Ta Prohm Temple; experiencing the amazing temples of Banteay Srei and Banteay Sam Rei; driving to Boeung Melea and enjoying the sprawling jungle; taking a traditional tuk tuk ride to a local village; visiting a local Buddhist temple travelling to the Great Lake of Cambodia and learning about the local floating villages. This package includes hotel accommodation, some meals, some transportation and sightseeing, all entrance fees and local English speaking guides.
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German judge resigns from Cambodia Khmer Rouge tribunal alleging government interference

By Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A German judge responsible for indictments of Khmer Rouge war crimes suspects at Cambodia’s U.N.-backed tribunal has resigned, alleging government interference in the investigation of new cases.

Judge Siegfried Blunk had come under fire from rights groups for failing to fully investigate new suspects for the court, which is seeking justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died of starvation, exhaustion, lack of medical care or torture during the communist Khmer Rouge’s 1970s rule.

Last week, Human Rights Watch called for Blunk to resign for failing to conduct genuine and impartial investigations into suspects beyond one convicted last year and four others set for trial.

Blunk’s resignation over the weekend was announced Monday. He defended his record, blaming government pressure for the lack of new cases. He cited Cambodia’s information minister as saying in May that if investigating judges wanted to probe new cases, “they should pack their bags and leave.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen has also openly opposed expanding the trials with additional indictments of former Khmer Rouge figures, some of whom have become his political allies.

Blunk said such statements “will be perceived as attempted interference by government officials.” He said he could not be influenced by such opposition, but his “ability to withstand such pressure by government officials and to perform his duties independently could always be called in doubt.”

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith denied that the government was interfering with the court.

U.N. deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had received Blunk’s resignation “and thanked him for his service.”

He said the United Nations is working urgently to ensure that the reserve co-investigating judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, is available as soon as possible to replace Blunk.

Del Buey reiterated Ban’s strong support for the tribunal and stressed that the court “must be permitted to proceed with its work without interference from any entity including the royal government of Cambodia, donor states or civil society.”

The human rights group Amnesty International urged the U.N. to seek guarantees from Cambodia that it would not interfere with the tribunal and warn it that any attempts to do so would lead the U.N. to review its involvement.

Human Rights Watch also called last week for a second judge responsible for indictments on the court — You Bunleng of Cambodia — to step down. The group said justice could not be obtained as long as the two judges held their jobs.

Controversy over the two co-investigating judges’ actions began in April, when they announced that they had concluded their investigation into what is known as Case 003. Human Rights Watch accused the judges of failing to do a thorough job in an effort to torpedo chances of further indictments. The judges’ move also triggered criticism from several of the tribunal’s U.N.-appointed legal staff, who complained in a private letter to Ban that the move represented a failure of justice.

The tribunal, which has faced lengthy delays throughout its history, reached its first verdict last year, sentencing former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav to 35 years in prison for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other offenses.

Still facing trial are Khieu Samphan, the former Khmer Rouge head of state; Nuon Chea, who was leader Pol Pot’s No. 2 and the group’s chief ideologist; former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary; and his wife, Ieng Thirith, who was minister for social affairs. All are in their 70s or 80s.

The charges against them include crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture.
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Record Mekong Flooding Threatens Bangkok, Phnom Penh

United Nations officials say the capitals of Thailand and Cambodia are at risk as the worst flooding in modern times sweeps through the Mekong Basin.

Kirsten Mildren, spokeswoman for the U.N.'s humanitarian affairs agency, told VOA Tuesday that officials in Bangkok are taking urgent measures as the floodwaters bear down on the city.

"We know that there is a lot of water coming down," she said. "The government at the moment is building canals around the city. There are sand bags going up everywhere. They are doing what they can to actually stop the water coming through, but each day it seems to come closer and closer."
Mildren said the waters are also continuing to rise in Cambodia, where Phnom Penh is threatened. Across the country 183 people have died since August and almost 100,000 hectares of paddy are damaged or destroyed.

Regionwide, she said at least 500 people are dead and millions are affected in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

"You’ve got, you know, 2.5 million people that are affected, and they are probably affected because flood water has gone through their villages, its gone through their rice paddies, schools are closed, so most people are actually displaced, they are in evacuation centers, they are staying with family and friends out of the water."

In the northern Thailand city of Ayutthaya, resident Pathumwan Choichuichai told an Associated Press television crew he is very scared.

"It's never been like this. There's nothing left, no house, no belongings, including clothes, bed and refrigerator and appliances. Everything is gone," he said. He has lost his home, his clothes and everything he owns in the flooding.

Mildren says the flooding is the result of an unusual combination of weather events, beginning with a series of typhoons that swept northwestward from the Philippines.

"We’ve had four back-to-back typhoons that went through Philippines, and then that brought along heavy rain which, on top of that, the usual monsoon rain, basically has flooded the Mekong Basin. And that’s brought a whole lot of water all the way down to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. And this is why you see what is being called, you know, some of the worst flooding on record in modern times."

Her agency puts the death toll at 269 in Thailand, 183 in Cambodia, 30 in Laos and 18 in Vietnam, including 16 children.
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