Friday, August 12, 2016

New books

* Soma Norodom has published a book on her experiences in Cambodia, titled Royal Rebel, which is available through Amazon, etc. I was a guest on her English-speaking radio talk show in September 2011 and our discussion ranged from growing up in the UK, to Vann Nath, to sci-fi, observational comedy, the late Haing Ngor, contemporary dance, blogging, Phnom Penh Crown FC, my book To Cambodia With Love and Khmer food. She also wrote a column for the Phnom Penh Post before returning to the USA.
* Next month will see the release of Chanrithy Him's newest book, a fantasy-vampire tale called Rise of the Golden Aura. Chanrithy was the author of the brilliant memoir When Broken Glass Floats.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Shakira passes

Very sad to hear of the passing of Shakira Martin, a former Miss Jamaica Universe beauty queen and one of four children of ex-Steel Pulse vocalist Phonso Martin, who spent fourteen years with the band, from their earliest days up until 1991.
Shaikra was a victim of Sickle Cell disease and a committed advocate for the cause. She used her success as a beauty queen to spread awareness of sickle cell anaemia. She passed away from complications with sickle cell blood clots in both her lungs, on 3 August, aged just 30.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Angkor stuff

Visiting the temples of Angkor will cost more from 1 Feb 2017. Angkor Enterprise, the state agency in charge of ticket sales, said foreigners must pay $37 (up from $20) for a 1-day Angkor Pass, a three-day ticket increases from $40 to $62 and a one-week ticket from $60 to $72. Khmers get in for free. Also much stricter dress codes have been implemented recently. Be warned.

Look in your cupboards and if you have any Khmer statues that came from Battambang, please return them! 68 have gone missing from the 2 museums in Battambang and a book about the missing sculptures is now out. More @
The sculptures have been spirited away over the years, but do not include this stele which I photographed at Wat Po Veal Museum in 2006.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Football photos

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Not my best angle

Unflattering picture alert! At a recent game.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

It's a bust is a bust this season with Phnom Penh Crown's campaign getting off to the worst possible start and never really recovering. We are in 6th place right now, five games to go and only pride to salvage. Our hopes of a third consecutive championship are long gone. I will write a book one day about the ups and downs in Cambodian football but suffice to say, we haven't reached the heights that we did over the past two years. Club football in Cambodia is still languishing far behind the interest being shown in the national team. We have our own stadium and the best pitch in the country and are the reigning champions but we still find it hard to get a good crowd at our RSN Stadium (by which I mean more than 2,000+). We've done it 3 or 4 times this season but when we play one of the lesser teams the attendance numbers drop to the late hundreds or hovering around 1,000. We have continued to build our support online (facebook, youtube, etc) but its not materializing into bums on seats yet, while the national team get around 50K+ for home matches, come rain or shine. So the interest in football is definitely out there amongst the Khmer public but converting that into people coming to watch league matches is a tough ask right now. It doesn't help that nearly every game is televised live either. This apathy for club sides applies to all teams, not just us. There is talk of taking clubs out to the provinces to drum up support but so far only Svay Rieng have ventured outside of the capital. Until teams get serious with developing their own identity, helped by regional backing from the fans who take ownership for their teams, then we will likely continue to struggle. Neighbouring countries, especially Thailand, have been successful with this approach, but I think it will be a while before Cambodia takes the bull by the horns and does the same thing. Also missing at league matches is passion. A real heartfelt passion for football is not something that comes easily to the Khmers. The national team generates a mexican wave or two, some local-flavour dancing and obviously lots of selfies, but organised chanting/singing, etc is absent. If you shout loudly at a game, heads turn in your direction, its something out of the ordinary, not the norm; which is weird in the extreme for someone brought up on a diet of British football. Just a few thoughts as I get back into the swing of writing again.


TLR wins again

Kulikar Sotho, director of The Last Reel, was given the award of Best Picture at the Traverse City Film Festival this week by award-winning director Michael Moore, who is the founder of the festival and who called it a beautiful film. The film has won a series of awards since it was first screened at the Tokyo Film Festival a couple of years ago. Kulikar dedicated the award to Cambodians everywhere. Picture courtesy of TCFF.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

At Traverse

Just heard that The Last Reel is up for the top foreign film award at the Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan USA this week, a festival founded and run by Michael Moore, winner of an Oscar (Bowling for Columbine), an Emmy (TV Nation), and a Palme d’Or at Cannes (Fahrenheit 9/11) no less. He was bowled over by the film and personally invited Kulikar, the director of The Last Reel, to his festival. Fingers crossed.

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Friday, July 22, 2016


The Court of Arbitration for Sport was in the news yesterday - the same people that will decide on our appeal against the denial of our entry into the AFC Cup - upholding the decision to ban Russian athletes from the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. CAS is often referred to as "sport's supreme court". Lets hope they don't offer up the same decision, ie. upholding the AFC's decision.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Killing time

I've got a stack of stuff to write, especially on the injustices in football but we have a court case taking place so I can't actually say bugger all at the moment, even though I'm bursting to tell you the facts. Instead I'll have to sit on my thumbs and wait it out. I will spill the beans when the time comes. It will make your hair curl.


Etcheson on the KR

Khmer Rouge expert Dr. Craig Etcheson is giving a public lecture, tomorrow, Tuesday, June 21 at 6:45pm. The topic is: "Has the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Taken Too Long?" The venue is Pannasastra University,South Campus, 184 Norodom Blvd. Phnom Penh (just south of Independence Monument and next door to Brown Coffee), Srey Dim Conference Hall. Admission is free. Be There!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Comedy club booking

The Comedy Club Cambodia will be back on Friday 24 June at Show Box (Street 330) with New York-based British comic Will Mars headlining, supported by Sam Thomas, Lune Dy and Steven Halcrow. $5, starts at 8.30pm.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Kulen - the lost city

The Smithsonian visits Phnom Kulen and its 'lost city.'


Kulikar starts shooting

Kuikar Sotho has begun principal shooting of her second film, Beyond the Bridge. The PPPost has the story @
Set in two periods, Beyond the Bridge threads a love story that begins in Cambodia against the backdrop of the nation’s civil war and the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge. The film stars renowned Japanese actor Masaya Kato and Cambodian actress Chumvan Sodhachivy (Belle).

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Cambodia Captured

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This Thursday at 6pm at Romdeng, a Q&A with Jim Mizerski, who has just published a new book, Cambodia Captured, containing the earliest pictures taken in the Kingdom.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Season opener

Phnom Penh Crown started the defence of their Metfone Cambodian League title with a 3-1 win over Cambodian Tiger on Friday night at RSN Stadium. A crowd of 2,774 watched the game under floodlights as Shane Booysen grabbed the headlines with a match-winning hat-trick, carrying on from where he left off last season. The South African ball wizard netted 24 goals last season and is determined to do even better this season.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Crown crowned Champions

Phnom Penh Crown 1 Nagaworld 3 [after extra time. PPCFC won 3-2 on penalties] (Metfone C-League Championship Final 2nd leg).
Phnom Penh Crown made heavy weather of winning their second consecutive Metfone Championship, having brought a 2-0 1st leg win to the main event, but held their nerve in the penalty shoot-out with teenage goalkeeper Keo Soksela showing maturity beyond his years. The game began with Crown edging the first-half with Va Sokthorn going close on a couple of occasions, Shane Booysen toe-poking an effort wide of the mark, whilst Nhim Sovannara headed a corner against the upright for Naga. Nine minutes after the half-time break and Naga took the lead when In Sodavid’s backpass allowed Kouch Sokumpheak to challenge Soksela and the loose ball was buried by Sun Sovannrithy. Sokthorn and Booysen were denied by Samrith Seiha at the other end but a handball against Sovannrithy from Sodavid’s blast gave Bin Thierry the leveller from the penalty spot on 73 minutes. Just 4 minutes later Sokumpheak steered in Prak Chanratana’s headed cross to return the lead to Naga. Crown were struggling to find their rhythm and Leng Makara stopped a drive on the goal-line with his body before final minute heartbreak as Yongsun Baek was adjudged to have handled a shot and Sokumpheak stepped up in injury time to rifle the ball home from the spot. That made it 3-1 to Naga and 3-3 on aggregate.
Extra time of thirty minutes was without incident of note until Barry Lelouma’s floated free-kick missed everyone and bounced just clear of the cross-bar. Crown’s best chance came on 114 minutes as Baek powerfully headed Sokthorn’s free-kick onto the bar and the referee waved aways appeals that the ball had bounced behind the line. Onto penalty kicks to decide who would be the champions. Soksela saved Naga’s opening spot-kick from Fukasawa and then Thierry planted in his effort. Kazuaki Ban scored but Sokthorn missed the target, only for Sokumpheak to score. Kok Boris scored with ease, but ex-PPC Khim Borey found Soksela’s feet hard to beat, as did Odion Obadin, who was stopped by Seiha. Another glorious Soksela save denied Lelouma and up-stepped Baek to settle the Championship with a well-struck spot-kick to make it 3-2. Cue the celebrations on the pitch and among the massed ranks of Crown fans at the stadium


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Uplifting Camp 32

Krom wow the audience with a live performance
What a wonderfully uplifting conclusion to Camp 32 with the reunion of childhood friends against all the odds. I didn't know that would happen and it brought a lump in the throat to watch this remarkable turn of events in what could've been an otherwise sad and depressing tale of Khmer Rouge brutality and loss. So happy for Hom and the survivors to reunite where so so many others could not, and for my best pal Sak to play a key role in making it happen. That guy can do just about anything he sets his mind to. A lovely film enhanced by the music of Krom, who wowed us with a live performance before the screening. The film, the music and the story's ending made it an exceptional afternoon. And thank you to the filmmakers for the name check in the end credits. I appreciate it.
With Hom, on his journey to find himself

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The Smell of Water launch

Thursday 10 December at 7pm and Meta House will be the venue for the launch of a new book, The Smell of Water - A Twelve-year-old's Soldier's Escape from the Khmer Rouge Army, written by Lang and Cornelia Srey. The book itself spans 10 days in the life of Lang Srey who was a youngster when he was drafted into the army and this is his story - another book launch from the good people at Monument Books. I popped into their shop on Norodom last week and picked up two important new books, Philip Coggan's Spirit Worlds - Cambodia, The Buddha and The Naga, which looks at all facets of religion in Cambodia. The second book I bought was Steven Boswell's King Norodom's Head - Phnom Penh Sights Beyond The Guidebooks, which David Chandler called; "Deft, witty and absorbing...totally accessible...masterfully written." Wish he'd said that about my book 

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Chanrithy's new direction

Chanrithy Him
If you have read the incredible book, When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under The Khmer Rouge, then you will have heard of its author, Chanrithy Him. Released in 2000, the book has been used widely in schools and universities around the globe and her life story was featured in a documentary film called The Will To Live. She admits writing the award-winning memoir carried a hefty personal price and so she has decided to write something with more entertaining and fun slant. When she was young, she was captivated by the romance and mystery of the ancient Khmer temples, the Asian vampire mythology, Khmer stories of reincarnation and incantation. That has given birth to Rise of the Golden Aura which features an Asian-American heroine as its main character and is set in Cambodia and America. Chanrithy is publishing her own novel, alongwith the California Institute of the Arts and has a Kickstarter Campaign in full swing, which you can join @

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Film Festival nearly upon us

The documentary Camp 32 will be premiering at the Cambodia International Film Festival on Sunday December 6th (3pm) at Chaktomuk Theater in Phnom Penh. Just heard that the premiere will supported by a live performance from the band Krom, who produced the film's soundtrack. Camp 32 will also screen on Tuesday December 8th at the French Institute (4pm). Read all about Camp 32 @
Kicking off on Friday 4 December, the Cambodian International Film Festival hits cinema screens across Phnom Penh through to Thursday 10th. Highlights include a special in-conversation with Rithy Panh and young Cambodian filmmakers, the premiere of long awaited Cambodian Space Project documentary Not Easy Rock’n’Roll, and Before The Fall, by Ian White. Personally I cannot wait to see Camp 32, as well as The Killing Fields of Dr Haing S Ngor. Lots of other films on offer too.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

King Norodom's Head book launch

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Book launch courtesy of Monument Books at Meta House this coming Wednesday (2 Dec) from 7pm, when the author Steve Boswell will be present to discuss his new book, KING NORODOM’S HEAD (Silkworm Books) which deals with obscure sights of Cambodia’s capital rarely found in guidebooks. “For people living in the city and for people who are passing through, King Norodom’s Head … is bound to enrich their encounter with this fascinating city. Steve Boswell’s book is a reader’s feast.” ~ David Chandler, author of “A History of Cambodia” and “Voices from S-21”. Can't say fairer than that.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dreadtown - Steel Pulse unveiled

Find our more about the upcoming STEEL PULSE documentary called Dreadtown, and how you can help fund the project and get some fan-tastic perks in return @

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The decider

It's the 2nd leg of the Metfone League play-off semi-final this afternoon. we won the first leg 4-1 so we should have a great advantage, but its football, and literally anything can happen. i am confident in my team's abilities and their heart, so we should go onto the two-legged final in a few weeks. well, that's the plan. we missed out on the Mekong Cup competition when we lost to Boeungket last week, which was a major disappointment, so that should act as the spur to the players, as they won't want to feel the same failure again. Come on Crown, if we all pull together we can do it.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Kampot Writers Festival

Just 19 days until the Kampot Writers & Readers Festival, which kicks-off in Kampot, obviously, on 5 November for 4 days. It's the first one and will include discussions, conversations, poetry readings, music concerts, cooking classes, gourmet lunches, children’s events, architecture, salt & pepper tours, art exhibitions, book launches, book swaps, guided tours, workshops, and literature. Read all about it @


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Off-beat PP

Also in today's Phnom Penh Post Weekend is more info on the new book, King Norodom's Head, by author Steven Boswell. A collection of off-beat anecdotes from around Phnom Penh which I hope will encourage more people to uncover little-known stories, both in the capital and beyond, and get those stories into the public domain. There must be similar revelations from Battambang, Siem Reap, Kratie, Kompong Cham, Kampot, Kompong Thom, etc, merely waiting to be uncovered in every corner of the Kingdom. I'm sure Jean Michel-Filippi could fill a mountain of books with his knowledge. I did something much the same when I collected tales for my book, To Cambodia With Love, as I love the idea of the off-beat and unusual nature of intimately personal stories. 
Read more in the PPP @



This footy season, I've produced a matchday programme/brochure to cover every home game at RSN. It's not something that's been done before, whereas of course, it's part and parcel of most professional matches around the world. Hell, I started writing programmes in my mid-teens for my hometown non-league club in the mid-70s. We've given the 16-page colour brochure away for free with the entry ticket (which costs fifty cents or a dollar), so it's obviously a loss-leader as we seek to secure fans for home games at RSN in this our first season. I've asked for feedback today on what the fans think of it and how they'd like to see it improve - it's important to listen, especially when it's something very new to them.
As for matchday programmes: They began at Preston in the UK some 135 years ago, doled out free or sold for a halfpenny, pieces of cardboard naming the players and, possibly, the club's upcoming fixtures. The first FA Cup final programme (1 penny) to allow advertisements (for Madame Tussaud's and two music halls) was in 1892 at the Oval. Programmes became even more useful when shirt numbering (1-11 and 12-22) arrived in the late 1920s: the first FA Cup final when the teams were numbered was 1933. And so on. Today, its a global hobby with auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's reporting a brisk trade. The word record sale is for a programme from 1882 that sold for $54,000. So hang onto your PPCFC match brochures, they could be worth something in years to come.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Biggest ever

The PPCFC first-team at the Smart-PPCFC press conference
Phnom Penh Crown have signed what is believed to be the biggest sponsorship deal in domestic Cambodia League history as they join forces with telecoms giant Smart Axiata in a 3-year deal for an undisclosed sum. Smart will be the name on their jerseys from next season as well as joining Crown for community and CSR initiatives. Here's the 1st-Team joining in the press conference at RSN.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Old exhibits

Nick Ray (left) and you know who (click to enlarge)
The Jar Lady, aka Nancy Beavan, exhibits her discoveries at the National Museum in Phnom Penh for the next three months in an exhibition titled “Living in the Shadow of Angkor”. I've visited a few of these ancient jar sites within the Cardamom Mountains and they are pretty inaccessible and highly unusual. Nancy has spent ten years researching the ancient burial rituals with jars and wooden coffins in locations dotted around the Cardamom region. Here's a photo of Nick Ray and myself at the official opening, taken by Sotheavy Nou.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Secret Phnom Penh

A new book by Steven Boswell called King Norodom’s Head: Phnom Penh Sights Beyond the Guidebooks, is published this month by NIAS, with 200 photos/maps and 320 pages. It isn't your usual guidebook - instead focusing on off-beat stories about the capital. The reader will learn among other things like the whereabouts of the gold of King Ang Duong and of Madame Chum’s infamous opium den, the story behind the mysterious Frenchman buried on Wat Phnom’s hill, and the secret reason behind Jackie Kennedy’s 1967 trip to Cambodia.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wat Po Veal

I've always had a soft spot for Battambang. For many reasons. One is its museums. Including the long-forgotten one at Wat Po Veal. 
The PPPost now opens the doors of this cobwebbed-storage facility for ancient relics @…/inside-secret-museum
And you can read about my visit there in 2006 @


Saturday, September 26, 2015

All It Takes

Here it is....the music video of Savy's latest single, All It Takes.
A beautiful song.

Breaking News!
Khmer-American pop singer Savy's latest single and music video - 'All It Takes' - can be seen on CTN, MyTV and Sabay every day, ahead of its release in the USA and everywhere else including iTunes, on 25 September. This is a real exclusive for Cambodia with the song set to be released as a ringback tone very soon. Savy will also be in the studio soon to record a version in Khmer. Her previous singles, About A Boy and Zero G will be released in a few weeks too. So keep your eyes and ears open for Savy's 'All It Takes'...


Friday, September 25, 2015

Mount Everest

Hats off to my favourite Indian curry restaurant, Mount Everest on street 294. I've been a regular customer for the past eight years, enjoying their outstanding curries and friendly service, and when i walked in with my arm in plaster a couple of days ago, they refused to take any cash for my regular takeaway and sent me on my way. They repeated the same thing tonight and said they just wanted to help. At this rate i could be eating curry every day for the next five weeks smile emoticon Seriously, they get the award for friendliest curry restaurant of the week/month/year in my book. Mount Everest - best curries in Phnom Penh.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Oscar nomination

The Last Reel is Cambodia's Oscar Nomination for 2016. 
The Last Reel has been officially chosen by the Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee (COSC) to represent Cambodia for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' Award of the 88th Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles in 2016. “I am so grateful to the Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee for choosing The Last Reel to represent Cambodia for the Foreign Language Film Award at the 2016 Oscars,” said The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar. “This film was made by Cambodians with a Cambodian audience in mind, but the themes are universal and it has been embraced around the world, as well as here at home,” she continued. “I am extremely proud to represent Cambodia, the Cambodian people and the Cambodian film industry at the 88th Oscars,” she added, “I love my country and an award for The Last Reel is an award for Cambodia.”
Now that The Last Reel has been submitted to The Academy for consideration in the Foreign Language Film Award category of the Oscars, everyone must wait to see if it will be chosen as a final nominee for an Oscar. First, all the films in this category are reviewed and nine films are shortlisted. Of these, the final 5 official nominees are chosen, which will be voted on by Academy members for the Oscar-winning film.
The Last Reel is out now in all leading Cambodian cinemas, including Major Cineplex by Cellcard at Aeon Mall; Legend Cinemas at TK Avenue, City Mall and Stung Meanchey; and Platinum Cineplex Sorya and Platinum Cineplex in Siem Reap.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Bad news

okay, the bad news first. A dog decided to freeze in the middle of the road, sending me over the handlebars of my moto. Resulting in a double fracture of my left elbow. Dr Vuthy, definitely recommended, put it in plaster for up to six weeks at 7am today. He's head of pediatric surgery so i'm in good hands. Unfortunately its the same elbow i seriously fractured 42 years ago, which is why you can see a pin on the x-ray. Yes it's still there all these years later, in those days they left them in! This time the fractures are small by comparison, but will need time to heal, hence the plaster cast. Massive appreciation to Rumnea for her care and attention. Now, the good news - there isn't any!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finding myself in Finding Zero

Big thanks to author Amir Aczel for including my small part in his search to uncover the origins of numbers, in his recently released book, Finding Zero (publishers: palgrave macmillan: 242 pages). He even added a photo. Amir has written a riveting account of his search for the origin of numerals but it's the search for the earliest recorded zero that brought him to Cambodia and our meeting, which he records in detail. As for the earliest zero - it was on a stone inscription from an Angkorian temple that Amir finally tracked down to the Angkor Conservation office in Siem Reap. You might say he's the Indiana Jones of mathematics. You can get a copy of Finding Zero at Monument Books, of course.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Locating Trapeang Sva

Inside the stupa at Trapeang Sva
One of the scenes in The Last Reel, currently being shown in cinemas in Cambodia, was set at a genocide memorial in the ricefields of Takeo. Yesterday, I visited one such memorial in the Tonle Bati area, which was in my mind when I submitted examples of memorials to the film's director a couple of years ago, as part of the movie's historical research. This one at Sala Trapeang Sva has changed since my last visit in 2008. Then, it was located in remote scrub-land but is now close to newly-built homes and a drug rehab center. The writing on the memorial stupa indicated it was built in 1999, there was no lock on the door and the shrine was full to brimming with human bones and a few skulls. DC-Cam records indicate that more than 95 mass grave pits were discovered at the site and around 10,000 victims were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime in the immediate vicinity. The wall paintings in the open-sided sala next to the stupa were created in 2004 and 2011, showing scenes reminiscent in style to those painted by Vann Nath that hang in the Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh. Most of the memorials around the country, similar to this one, lie largely forgotten and neglected.


Day trip

Rumnea at Tonle Bati
Rumnea enjoyed her first-ever visits to Phnom Chisor and Tonle Bati and places in between yesterday, despite the danger posed by my first trip outside the city in charge of the moto. However, she was disappointed with the attitude of the 'temple guardians' at Prasat Tonle Bati (Ta Prohm) who were more interested in getting money ('loy') from visitors than tending to the temple and then speaking rudely when no loy was forthcoming. They reminded me of the three witches/hags from Macbeth, grumbling over their boiling cauldron, who later began arguing amongst themselves over the size of their cut from the day's proceedings. Here's Rumnea next to the temple's excellent carving of the Churning of the Sea of Milk. Beware the hags at Tonle Bati.