Monday, March 23, 2015

Sarah's in town

With Sarah in the foyer of the Patio Hotel
Dinner at Deco tonight with the lovely Sarah O'Brien, after she arrived in Phnom Penh on a brief whistle-stop visit. Sarah was telling me of her first-ever trip to Cambodia back in 1997 that inspired her to pen the Winds of Angkor musical. She's been back a few times since including when she brought a WOA musical highlights package to the Chaktomuk Theatre stage in 2010, as well as a performance at the Angkor temples. When Sarah is not engrossed in musicals and making documentaries, she's a cellist of some repute, touring often with international artist Yanni or supporting singers of the ilk of Celine Dion or Andrea Bocelli. And a really great friend as well. She's a Nottingham lass but now lives in Los Angeles.

Labels: ,

When Clouds Fell out in April

Phnom Penh-based author Robert Carmichael talks about his new book, When Clouds Fell From the Sky: A Disappearance, A Daughter’s Search and Cambodia’s First War Criminal, which is due out in April. "My book weaves the stories of five people whose lives intersected to catastrophic effect in the maelstrom of 1970s Cambodia, and explains how the consequences of that collision remain relevant today. In 1977 a young Cambodian diplomat called Ouk Ket was recalled to Phnom Penh from his post in Senegal. He was under the impression that he would take part in the rebuilding of his country, but on his return he was taken to the Khmer Rouge’s secret prison, known as S-21, where he was held for six months, tortured and finally executed. In a country as rigidly Communist as Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Ket - a royalist - was a class enemy. Left behind in France were his wife, Martine, whom Ket had met while studying in Paris, and their two children. Their daughter, Neary, was just two when Ket left and the family never heard from him again. It was years before they knew what had happened to Ket and it took even longer to come to terms with his fate.
Ket had grown up in Phnom Penh and was close to his cousin Sam Sady. When the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in April 1975, Sady, her family and Ket’s family were among the 2.5 million people forcibly evacuated into brutal agricultural cooperatives. Sady’s story recounts how Pol Pot’s 1975-79 rule affected ordinary Cambodians when around 2 million people, or one in four of the population, died. The person linking them is Comrade Duch, the former head of S-21, where at least 15,000 so-called enemies of the revolution were tortured and executed. Fewer than a dozen inmates survived. In 2009 Duch was tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity, found guilty and sentenced to 35 years. He appealed, and in 2012 was jailed for life. The paths of these five people crossed in the 1970s and again in 2009 when Neary and Martine testified as civil parties at Duch’s trial to tell the UN-backed court how Ket’s disappearance and murder had shattered their lives. The book will be published in April 2015, the 40th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge."
You can read an interview with the author in The Diplomat @ http://thediplomat.com/2015/03/cambodia-when-clouds-fell/. The book website is @ http://www.whencloudsfell.com.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Off to London

The Last Reel's Ma Rynet in a still from the movie
Onto movie business...The Last Reel is off to London next week for a showing at the Asia House Film Festival in the big smoke on Saturday 28 March at the Rich Mix cinema in Shoreditch. The screening is already a sell-out. Next up will be the Asean Film Festival in Sarawak, Malaysia on 9-11 April, whilst director Kulikar Sotho will then head Stateside to Los Angeles, for two screenings on 25 and 27 April in downtown LA, at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Italy will be the next port of call a few days later and all points global after that. A pretty good review in the Easternkicks website will help too @ http://www.easternkicks.com/reviews/the-last-reel. For local fans of the film, we are beavering away on a plan to screen the film far and wide in Cambodia later in the year.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Savy's a painted jezebel

A new, acoustic stripped-down sound for Savy's latest release, Painted Jezebel, after her previous poptastic releases such as Zero G. You can listen to it on SoundCloud @ https://soundcloud.com/savysom/painted-jezebel. I look forward to the day that Savy brings her gorgeous rich tones to these shores.

Labels:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Documentary on Haing Ngor

Haing S Ngor's signature
Yesterday saw the world premiere of Arthur Dong's 87-minute film: The Killing Fields of Dr Haing S Ngor, at the CAAMFest in San Francisco. Dr. Haing S Ngor, the only Asian to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, was recruited out of the blue by a casting agent at a wedding to play the heartrending role of Cambodian photographer Dith Pran in Roland Joffé’s 1984 film The Killing Fields. Ngor drew on his own experiences as a four-year survivor of the Khmer Rouge’s labor camps, where he endured gruesome torture and hard labor while his family, including his wife and unborn son, died around him. Though he continued acting, Ngor retrained the spotlight on Cambodia, traveling worldwide to speak out against Pol Pot’s regime and the Vietnamese occupation of his country that followed. He became such a powerful voice that specters of conspiracy still haunt his untimely 1996 death. Veteran doc-maker Arthur Dong unspools Ngor’s phenomenal life with original animation, rare archival material and newly shot footage inspired by his autobiography Survival in the Killing Fields. Here is the actor's signature over a picture of him with his Oscar.

Labels:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Easier-to-grasp

The dancers, from a distance
Enjoyed the Lives of Giants at Chaktomuk Theatre tonight, put on by the Sophiline Arts Ensemble group from Takhmao, which gives an interesting new twist to classical story-telling, trying to make it more relevant and easier-to-grasp and getting the dancers to express themselves more, both in movement and speech. The Angels and their whooping and crying brought a welcome touch of humour to the show, making it less stuffy and more accessible, whilst retaining the classical elements that make it very Cambodian. Its on for another 3 days and well worth getting along to watch it for yourself. An all-female cast accompanied by an orchestra and singers.

Labels: ,

On World Cup duty

Va Sokthorn (blue, 6) in action vs Macau: Photo by Masayori Ishikawa
Cambodia battered Macau in the World Cup 1st round qualifier at home today, 3-0 and if they don't get whooped next Tuesday, will be into Round 2 where the big boys like Japan, Korea, etc come into the fray. There's little likelihood of Cambodia getting beyond the group stages of Round 2, but the victory in front of an 8,000 sell-out crowd at the Army Stadium will put the fans in a good mood at last, after years of pretty crappy results, and they certainly look to have the measure of Macau, beyond any unexpected disasters. A repeat of the desperate defeat to Laos in the previous World Cup qualifiers in 2011 will be at the back of everyone's mind next Tuesday. Making his World Cup debut for Cambodia was Phnom Penh Crown's recent recruit from French football, Va Sokthorn, who has Khmer parents. He has yet to play a league match for his club side but has already represented his country, which is quite a feat.

Labels:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Magical times

Pete King, who managed Steel Pulse at the time of their debut album release Handsworth Revolution in 1978, gives the low down on that time and his involvement in this recorded interview. Magical times. https://soundcloud.com/radio-popolare-roma-103-3/steel-pulses-handsworth-revolution-making-of-mercy-far-i-intervista-pete-king.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 9, 2015

Weary legs

The PPCFC staff team. I'm third from left, back row.
A rare photo of me playing football, the first time in 3 years, as the Phnom Penh Crown staff team took on ISF in Tuol Kork recently. We drew 12-12 with the final kick of the game. Miraculously, I came out of the game unscathed. I am the oldest player by a hefty margin and I might find it impossible to get out of bed as a result. 4 of the line-up have played international football for Cambodia. Obviously, not me.

The next chortle-filled night of the Cambodia Comedy club has been set for Friday March 20 at Equinox, start 8pm, tickets at $5 a pop. On the mike will be the comedy trio of Aidan Killian, Graham Wooding and Ray Bradshaw, not all at the same time of course.

Traditional dance enthusiasts out there - "The Lives of Giants" will be performed by Sophiline Arts Ensemble at Chaktomuk Theatre, Phnom Penh from 12 -15 March from 7pm (4pm on final day). Tickets priced at $3, 5, 20 & 15. This is Cambodia's only professional dance troupe and they are very talented. I'm fortunate enough to be invited on the opening night, so I will be one of the lucky ones - make sure you get to see this very special performance too.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 26, 2015

London Premiere

The Last Reel director, Kulikar Sotho
I can let you know that the Cambodian movie from Hanuman Films, The Last Reel will be making its UK debut with a screening in London at the Asia House Film Festival on Saturday 28 March at the Richmix Cinema. Find out about the Festival @ http://asiahouse.org/arts-learning/film/asia-house-film-festival-2015/ - and just for good measure director Kulikar Sotho will be winging her way to Blighty to present the film to the audience. There will be a stop-off in Helsinki in Finland en route as the movie will also be screened at the Cine Aasia, one of Europe's premiere Asian film festivals, on Sunday 15 March. More @ http://helsinkicineaasia.fi/en/2015/02/helsinki-cine-aasia-2015-ohjelmisto-on-julkaistu/. Expect more festival screenings in the coming months.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Under the skin of aid work

Getting under the skin of the NGO and aid world is the focus of a new work of fiction by the author J and his latest offering, Honour Among Thieves, which will be published from 1 March and will feature Cambodia as its location for intrigue and humanitarian idealism. 274 pages and published by Evil Genius. The mysterious J is a humanitarian worker with more than twenty years of experience in the aid industry.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 23, 2015

Selwyn's celebrating

A good friend of mine, Selwyn Brown, has been an intrinsic part of my favourite band, Steel Pulse, since the mid-70s, and he and the band are still going strong today as one of the world's most influential reggae groups. He's also one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Its hard to believe that it's taken this long but his debut single release as a solo artist, Celebrating Black History, came out today. He literally never stops working and supporting other artists, which is why it's taken this long for him to put out his own music. I'm sure this will be the first of many.
Selwyn and myself in Paris in 2004

Labels: ,

Friday, February 20, 2015

Giffen hits the spot


Matt Giffen, a comedy marvel
Matt Giffen was excellent at the Comedy Club tonight at Equinox. Very loud and very funny. Certainly one of the better stand-ups I've seen for a long while. He looked a bit weird too which always helps - think of Rasputin on some performance-enhancing drug and you get the picture. Deadpan Oz comic Marty Lappan is always a welcome addition too with his self-deprecating humour. Good show from the two imports.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Buyer beware

Buyer Beware - Bopha Phnom Penh Restaurant.
Had a crap experience last night at this restaurant, on the riverside in Phnom Penh. The robbers charged $12 for lok lak as it came with french fries instead of the normal $8 version, even though fries weren't ordered. The waiter didn't mention the price hike and it doesn't show in their printed menu either. The waiter was argumentative and bolshy and the manager said sorry that they weren't up front with their prices, but refused to take my complaint seriously. And a refund was out of the question. In the end I gave up as it was only a few dollars but their customer service sucks and I suggest every customer checks their bill to make sure the thieves aren't overcharging. The staff couldn't care less about individuals or couples, as they cater to big tour groups and family groups - their response at management level was pathetic and stubborn and they need to address customer care issues sympathetically before they hemorrhage business. Such blatant dishonesty is rare in my experience in Cambodia, which is why I was surprised by their refusal to resolve the issue.

Labels:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

4 of Feingold's finest

Award-winning documentary filmmaker David A. Feingold has been involved in SE Asia for over three decades. In March 2007, Documentary Educational Resources (DER) released a series of his “classic documentaries,” shot in Cambodia. Four of them will be shown at Meta House in Phnom Penh next week and the filmmaker will be there to present them. They are:
Wednesday, 18/Feb, from 7pm:
WAITING FOR CAMBODIA (1988) & RETURN TO YEAR ZERO (1989)
Thursday, 19/Feb, from 7pm:
INSIDE THE KHMER ROUGE (1990) & SILENT SENTINELS, COWARD’S WAR (1995).
Do not miss them.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Beauty & The Beat

Belle answering questions at Meta House
Contemporary dancer Belle was the subject of Sao Sopheak's short 19-minute film, The Beauty & The Beat, shown for the first time at Meta House last night, with the intimate interchanges between the dancing daughter and her mum, offering an all-too-brief insight into their relationship and the complexities of Cambodian culture. Belle and the filmmaker answered questions after the screening, with the next opportunity to see Belle on stage likely to be an Amrita performance on 1 May, after which she will travel to perform in France.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jon Swain returns forty years on

Jon Swain with yours truly at Raffles Le Royal Hotel recently
MEMORIES FROM THE MEKONG
Reporting from the Vietnam War for The Sunday Times, Jon Swain made the world’s most dangerous boat journey. Forty years on, he returns to the river. Published: Sunday Times, 8 February 2015, courtesy of Jon Swain.

How many times in the course of the past 40 years have I dreamt of being back in Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong? Ever since I first saw the mighty and mysterious river while cutting my teeth as a young war reporter, the Mekong has been impossible to forget.
For me and my colleagues, many of whom lost their lives covering the war that defined the 1960s and 1970s, there were moments when its swiftly flowing waters were menacing and dangerous, a place of raw terror, bullets, shrapnel, the dead and wounded.
At other moments, though, most particularly when the sun glittered over its waters at dusk and the fishermen pulled in their nets, the Mekong was still a vision of serenity and calm. Somehow, in my experience, wars nearly always seem to be fought in the most enchanting of countries. Materialism and tourism have inevitably changed Vietnam and Cambodia, but they’re still places of intoxicating beauty.
The Mekong begins its life tamely in the Tibetan Himalayas, then, fed by melting snow and mountain streams, tumbles down through steep-sided gorges in southwestern China, twists through the jungly hills of Laos, descends through a series of rapids into Cambodia, then flows at a more leisurely pace into southern Vietnam to meander peacefully into the South China Sea.
It has enriched my life. But over the years since the Vietnam War, the moment for travelling on it never properly presented itself to me. Perhaps this postponement was because, along with all the good times, the pain of memories of the war endures. Maybe I instinctively kept the idea of returning at arm’s length. No matter. Last month I found myself back in Saigon, the old wartime capital of South Vietnam — I can’t quite bring myself to call it Ho Chi Minh City — for a cruise up the Mekong, all the way to Phnom Penh.
The last time I made this journey was in 1974, when my boat had to run a gauntlet of heavy communist fire as it ploughed upstream towards the Cambodian capital. Phnom Penh was a city under siege. All overland routes were cut. The airport was under rocket attack and the city’s survival depended on convoys bringing ammunition, rice and fuel up the river. Several boats had been sunk, and many men had lost their lives on these runs.
I was on Bonanza Three, a rusty old freighter built in Osaka in 1957, carrying a cargo of rice. The risks were high. Before we weighed anchor, the skipper, a one-eyed, battle-hardened Indonesian, showed me the 67 bullet and rocket holes in its hull from previous Mekong runs, including fist-sized shrapnel holes in the door and wall of the loo. Not a place to linger. The wheelhouse was protected by a thick wall of sandbags. The radio officer had been killed a few weeks before, blasted in his cabin by a rocket, his remains scooped up in a plastic bag.
No such dangers awaited me on the Aqua Mekong, the brand-new luxury riverboat that would be my home for the next four days and nights. At My Tho, a delicate Cambodian woman welcomed me on board with a chilled towel to freshen my face and a glass of bubbly. It was a great start to a memorable journey.
I was shown to my giant cabin, whose sliding doors opened onto a private balcony with a divan where I could relax and watch the river glide by. I’d known I wouldn’t be slumming it, but this was a film-star level of comfort that I never expected. In that respect, there was a huge contrast between the Aqua Mekong and Bonanza Three. But there was a common element: both possessed a magic quality that tied them to their crew, and tied their crew to one another.
The food was gourmet, the wine plentiful and excellent. The boat had a plunge pool, a fitness centre, a cinema and a health spa. I quickly got into the spirit of things with a soothing massage that put me in the mood for a cocktail. The staff, half of them Cambodian, half of them Vietnamese, looked after the 20 passengers on board with a cheerfulness that was so heartfelt and genuine, it was infectious. My fellow passengers were mostly much-travelled couples who, like me, had found the lure of Southeast Asia’s greatest river impossible to resist.
What impressed me most was the golden calm. We were constantly on the move through the rice-rich provinces of the Mekong delta, its network of canals seething with life. But on the boat, it felt as if time stood still. Before falling asleep each night, I thought how privileged I was to be once more on this river.
This was clearly a very different experience to my wartime adventure. Despite all the problems that persist here, peace has given Vietnam and Cambodia freedom at last, and aboard the Aqua Mekong, I could see the countryside pass by with a fresh and contented eye. It was good to think of Vietnam as a country, no longer the name of a terrible war.
Here and there we stopped and made excursions ashore: visiting a floating market brimming over with exotic tropical fruit, listening to village elders poignantly describing their wartime sufferings, riding on bicycles through emerald-green fields. Beauty lay almost everywhere, and most of all in the faces of the children.


One day we explored the former Vietcong stronghold at Tam Nong, transformed in peacetime into Vietnam’s largest bird sanctuary. It spans nearly 20,000 acres and is home to a full quarter of the country’s bird population. It is one of the few places to see the sarus crane, at nearly 6ft the tallest flying bird in the world, and increasingly rare.
To get a better view, we climbed an observation platform high above the trees. Instinctively, I gazed down on the great greenness of the countryside. “What do you see?” someone shouted. “Vietcong in black pyjamas,” I joked. There was no one, not even the thread of smoke from a village fire. Just great flocks of tropical birds skimming over waterways and trees in perfect harmony. You could hear their wings beating in the still heat.
By and by, we crossed into Cambodia and soon were passing the first danger point of my wartime trip, at Peam Chor, where the Mekong suddenly curves and narrows to a 500yd channel, an ideal and frequent ambush point. My eyes strained to see again the forlorn relics of sunken ammunition barges. Like the Vietcong in the bird sanctuary, they had vanished long ago.
This section of the Mekong was riddled with memories. We sailed past the ferry town of Neak Leung, where, in a dawn raid in 1973, an American B-52 had prematurely unleashed its 30-ton bomb load, turning the main street into a flattened mess of rubble, killing and wounding 400 people. The tragic error is vividly told in the film The Killing Fields. Now Neak Leung is a bustling town where a mighty bridge spans the Mekong.
It was dark when we passed the place where Bonanza Three was ambushed. I deliberately stayed on deck to remember what it was like: the awful din of battle swirling and eddying around as we took cover in the wheelhouse, the burst of rockets on the hull, the relief and exhilaration at being alive when it was all over and we were safely moored in Phnom Penh. In the present, lost in thought, I went to my cabin and fell asleep.
I awoke at dawn, refreshed, to a vision of peace and beauty. The Aqua Mekong was stationary a few miles from the hurly-burly of Phnom Penh. Kingfishers were darting over the waves and fishermen were casting their nets, as they have done for centuries. The war had destroyed almost everything it touched. But not the Mekong. It was still everything a tropical river should be.
Need to know: Jon Swain was a guest of Aqua Expeditions and Red Savannah, which has a seven-day trip to Vietnam and Cambodia from £4,136pp (01242 787800). The price including Thai Airways flights from Heathrow via Bangkok, transfers, one night at the Caravelle, in Ho Chi Minh City, four nights on the Aqua Mekong (including all meals, most drinks and excursions) and a night at Raffles Le Royal, in Phnom Penh.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Garrison temple of the Khmer

River Books of Bangkok are publishing, or is it re-publishing, the paperback version of Banteay Chhmar: Garrison Temple of the Khmer Empire at the end of next month, in which Peter Sharrock and others uncover the secrets of this fabulous temple with plans, maps and historical photos, aided by recent pictures from Paisarn Piemmettawat. 200 pages, it's a must-have edition to anyone's library, though I'm never quite sure with River Books if their published dates are correct. Nevertheless, I adore this temple, so the book is on my shopping list for sure.
One of my own photos from Banteay Chhmar

Labels: ,

Friday, January 30, 2015

On the front line

Another book due out, on 1 April from Promontory Press, is Elaine Harvey's Encounters on the Front Line - Cambodia: A Memoir. Canadian-based Harvey worked for the Red Cross in the border camps in 1980 and then came to Cambodia more than 25 years later to work with an orphanage and in a city hospice. Her memoir, 318 pages, will pull at your heartstrings.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Preah Vihear in print

Bookmark 1 May as that's the date that Temple In The Clouds: Faith & Conflict at Preah Vihear by John Burgess, will be hitting bookstores. I loved John's two previous books, Stories In Stone and A Woman of Angkor and with the fuss surrounding Preah Vihear over the centuries, I'm sure his latest book will be well worth the wait. 256 pages from River Books. Here's the book cover just to whet your appetite.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We will never forget

The entrance gate to Auschwitz concentration camp
Today marked Holocaust Memorial Day as events took place across Europe to commemorate 70 years since the liberation of the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz. I visited this sober place in 2003 and here is the story of my weekend in Poland and our Auschwitz experience @ http://andybrouwer.co.uk/poland.html.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Having fun in Andong

Phearath gets his team stretching
Saturday afternoon was great fun as the Phnom Penh Crown Academy players and coaches went out to the relocation village of Andong, 20kms from Phnom Penh, to hold a mini-football festival with 220+ children, aged 6-13. The girls outnumbered the boys and they all had great fun kicking lumps out of each other as they moved, in a mass, across the small pitches we set up. The unbridled joy on their faces makes these community visits an enormous pleasure. And to see a tiny slip of a girl get knocked over but get back on her feet, dust herself down and sprint barefoot to catch up with the pack is what makes it so worthwhile.
Okay, everyone kick the ball at the same time
Sodavid's all-girl team

Labels: ,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Anlong Veng's history

A History of the Anlong Veng Community
New book coming soon - A History of the Anlong Veng Community: The Final Stronghold of the Khmer Rouge Movement - by DC-Cam and written by Dy Khamboly & Chris Dearing. The Documentation Center spent over 10 years researching and mapping out the Anlong Veng area and over two years interviewing and writing the book, which will be printed in English and Khmer, and comes out at the end of January. Hopefully, everyone's friend (not) Nhem Em doesn't grab the limelight in this publication.

Renowned journalist Thierry Cruvellier takes us into the dark heart of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge with his book "The Master of Confessions - the Making of a Khmer Rouge Torturer", an account of Comrade Duch, the commandant of S-21 and his trial. The author will be talking about his book at Meta House from 8pm tomorrow (Tuesday 20 Jan). The book, hardback, will be on sale at $17.

Our very own world-gigging Cambodian Space Project will be pausing in their homeland to celebrate their 5th Birthday and have let slip the following gigs so far, but with more to come:
Fri 6 Feb at Equinox
Sun 8 Feb at Otres Market, Sihanoukville
Sat 14 Feb at The Exchange (Valentine's Day).
More gigs to be announced.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Namby-pamby

PPCFC footballers in full yoga pose, courtesy of Khmer Times
The Khmer Times takes up the story of Phnom Penh Crown and their weekly yoga sessions for the first-team squad and Academy teams. Luckily the press officer (me) is not included in the sessions - my poor old back couldn't cope! Head coach Sam Schweingruber said: “I don’t think that the improvement will be immediately visible on the field, but I hope we can reduce injuries and that might be something we could even measure. Players will become more flexible and that will step by step improve quality. They learn to focus better and having a better awareness of their body will help in various ways. As with many things in football, we hope to get a small advantage from trying something additional, finding the edge.”
Read the full article @ http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/8034/footballers-stretch-for-success/.
In my day, we'd have been called a bunch of namby-pamby cissies for this sort of thing, and rightly so. Mind you my day was back in the 70s!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Great company

Jon and myself in the Elephant Bar
Enjoyed a great night of chat and food with one of Britain's foremost journalists and foreign correspondents, Jon Swain. Where else but in the Raffles Hotel Le Royal of course, where Jon was holed up with the rest of the press corps just before the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh in 1975. Some wonderful anecdotes and stories from the man who was awarded the British Journalist of the Year for his reporting from Cambodia and who was featured in The Killing Fields, which formed the backdrop for his bestselling memoir, River of Time - a book loved by everyone who has read it, including me. A staffer with The Sunday Times for 35 years, his career has taken him to most of the world’s wars and hot spots. So we only really scratched the surface during mouthfuls in Restaurant Le Royal, though we managed to cover his stint in the Foreign Legion to his brush with death in East Timor and more in between. A really fascinating evening and thanks to Cyrille at Raffles for being a gracious host.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Grubby individual

I mentioned recently that the infamous Khmer Rouge photographer at Tuol Sleng S-21, Nhem En, is publishing a book about his experiences as a cadre at the prison - and now I'm told he's set up a stall outside the front gates. Presumably to sell his memoir. Or maybe Pol Pot's rubber sandals, or his toilet seat. Nothing would surprise me from this individual. Has he no shame, for the part he played in the murder of thousands of people at S-21? Of course not, any chance to make a buck and he'll be there, grasping little hands fully extended. When he gave evidence at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in 2007, showing no remorse, he said this: "Calling me an artist is kind of correct. As a photographer you try to make it look good," he said, before complaining: "My photos are famous around the world but no-one ever thinks of my copyrights." How about sparing a thought for the murder of the thousands of people you photographed, you little .... I hope he gets moved on for causing an obstruction, both on the sidewalk and in my throat. He stuck with the Khmer Rouge after they were ousted from Phnom Penh, finally changing sides - for cash no doubt - in the mid 90s, since when he's been one of the party faithful in Anlong Veng, threatening to open up a Khmer Rouge museum and other such grubby little enterprises. Now he's brought his little road-show to the capital.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Boycott Nhem's book

The infamous Khmer Rouge photographer at Tuol Sleng/S-21, Nhem En, is publishing a book about his experiences as a cadre at the prison next month, co-written with Dara Duong. If he were to donate all proceeds to KR victims/survivors then I would promote it - that is about as likely as me flying to the moon. His previous track record suggests this is purely a money-making venture, as have been his myriad schemes (including selling Pol Pot's shoes) in the past. If you want to buy books about what happened at S-21, I recommend the ones written by the survivors, Vann Nath, Bou Meng and Chum Mey. The latter two gentlemen can be found in person, selling their books at S-21 most days. They are the ones who should reap some benefit.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kulen by Coates

Journalist Karen Coates, who wrote the excellent Cambodia Now book, gives us her perspective on Phnom Kulen in the latest edition of Archaeology Magazine @ http://www.archaeology.org/issues/165-1501/letter-from/2779-letter-from-cambodia-phnom-kulen. A typically excellent article from Karen, and if you haven't read Cambodia Now for its look at today's Cambodia, then get a copy immediately. It's fifteen years since I visited Phnom Kulen for the first time, and my visits there have given me so many stories to tell.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eating out

LtoR: Tim, Tam and me (with my piercing eyes)
One of only two photos of myself and Tim during his recent visit to Phnom Penh. Sandwiched in between, poor girl, is Tam from Saigon, who was in town for a couple of days. She was one of liaison officers for the football tournament in Vietnam a few weeks ago that I attended and was in Phnom Penh on a brief business visit, and found time to have a meal with us before heading back home. She's just finished her job as a weather and news girl on Vietnam TV. Very enjoyable company. After a recent bad run of luck with restaurants, it was nice to have a meal that didn't disappoint, at Le Table Khmere.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 22, 2014

Steel Pulse play the UK

Steel Pulse pictured this week
Steel Pulse's UK gig-list for next year has been announced, with the band performing their 1978 Handsworth Revolution album in its entirety at each show. They are currently working on a new studio album, slated for release later in 2015 and the documentary - Steel Pulse ‘The Definitive History.’ Here's the band pictured this week, hanging tough (LtoR; Jerry, Amlak, Sid, Selwyn, David, Keysha, C-Sharp, Moonie).
Steel Pulse April 2015 UK dates:
Thu 2 Apr Manchester, The Ritz
Fri 3 Apr Birmingham, The Library
Sat 4 Apr London, The Forum – London International Ska Festival
Sun 5 Apr Brighton, Concorde 2.

Labels:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

With my bro

Pictured with Tim at football, by Dany
Tim's arrived for a month so its been a bit full-on the last couple of days. Hardly time to breathe, let alone sleep. Spent today under the sun in Tuol Kork watching PPCFC's Academy teams comprehensively beat their opponents this morning and afternoon, and enjoyed lunch at Metro at TK Avenue in between. Soon off to watch more live football on the big screen after trying further epicurean delights. Last night was the comedy club at Equinox and it wasn't much to write home about, aside from BJ Fox's stint at the mic. Having been weaned on a live stand-up diet of Frank Skinner, Steve Coogan, Lee Evans, Paul Merton and Jeff Green, for starters, it takes a lot to impress us.

Labels:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Battambang's cinemas

Prasat Meas cinema facade in Battambang
The run-down cinemas of Battambang get their day in the sunshine with this article from the Phnom Penh Post, including an interview with Kulikar Sotho, the director of The Last Reel, which used the old cinemas as a central theme in the film. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/post-weekend/relics-cambodias-cinematic-golden-age - here's my own pic of the Prasat Meas cinema facade.

Labels: ,

‹Older