Sunday, August 31, 2008
Voyage of discovery
Saturday, August 30, 2008
A national symbol
Friday, August 29, 2008
Activities and scenery
Huge Endangered Monkey Population Discovered in Cambodia
Just when you think modern technology reveals all, Mother Nature throws out a few surprises. According to a Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS) report, two surprisingly large populations of globally threatened primates have been found in Cambodia. The report counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs along with 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, an estimate that represents the largest known populations for both species in the world.
The two primate species are found in much lower numbers at other sites in Cambodia and in Vietnam. Prior to the recent discovery in the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, the largest known populations were believed to be in adjacent Vietnam, where black-shanked douc langurs and yellow-cheeked crested gibbons hover at 600 and 200 respectively. The total population of the two species remains unknown. You may be wondering how something can be endangered if the population is unknown. Science has no answer for that. Regardless of the new finds, conservationists are rarely happy people. In Cambodia, WCS researchers are concerned that looming threats could jeopardize these recent successes.
WCS scientists conducted the surveys with the Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries across an area of 300 square miles (789 square kilometers) within a wider landscape of 1,150 square miles (3,000 square kilometers), which is about the size of Yosemite National Park. The scientists believe total populations within the wider landscape may be considerably greater. The recent census in Cambodia took place in a former logging area where the two monkeys were once extensively hunted. Then in 2002, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries declared the region a conservation area and began working with WCS on site management and landscape-level planning for conservation and local development.
According to WCS, a combination of factors account for such high numbers of primates: successful long-term management of the conservation area; cessation of logging activities; a nation-wide gun confiscation program implemented in the 1990s; and habitat where there is plenty of food. The report says that the two primate populations started to recover in 2002 when the joint program between WCS and the Royal Government began and have remained stable since 2005. "Despite this good news in Cambodia, the area still remains at risk from conversion to agro-industrial plantations for crops, including biofuels, and commercial mining," said Tom Clements, the lead author of the WCS report. "WCS is therefore committed to continuing to work with the Cambodian Government to ensure that these globally important primate populations will continue to remain secure." WCS has worked with the Royal Government of Cambodia since 1999, helping to establish the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area (in Mondulkiri), and developing landscape-level conservation programs in the Northern Plains and Tonle Sap Great Lake.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Pick of the news
Cambodia now has 2 world champions! Both Vorn Viva and Meas Chantha defeated foreign opponents in their 5-round kickboxing ISKA world title fights at the Olympic Stadium tonight to firmly put Cambodia on the world kickboxing map. And don't even begin to think of any home bias amongst the judges, both fighers were deserved winners. I watched the bouts on television in the comfort of my own flat, and even I could see the reigning German and British world champions were beaten fair and square. Football and kickboxing are Cambodia's two favourite sports and the latter have raised the bar which the footballers will be hard pressed to equal anytime this century.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In addition, Candee was a survivor of history’s most infamous maritime disaster, the sinking of the Titanic, one adventure among many for the Washington, D.C. society leader and interior decorator who turned more and more to the joys of writing and the thrill of travel to the foreign lands that intrigued her. On her journeys of discovery, Helen Candee walked with kings, presidents, the wealthy and powerful – entertaining, educating and influencing them along the way. Yet her outlook was democratic, her approach spiritual, her love for people of all races genuine. A champion of female equality, she was yet quintessentially feminine – as bold as she was beautiful, she charmed while she shocked. Candee’s vision and talent were never melded with greater impact than in the pioneering work she accomplished after traveling the Far East with her keen sense of detail, inquisitive mind, and respect for a culture that enchanted her. The result of her study, Angkor the Magnificent, is more than a tale of early 20th century Asian travel. Candee’s observations are enlightening, elegant and witty as she relates the history and context of Angkor’s ancient monuments. Thanks to her inspired hand, the world has one of the first significant works on Cambodia in the English language.
The book will include Candee’s complete original account of Southeast Asian travel, a biography of the explorer by Randy Bryan Bigham and more than 120 illustrations of Cambodia and the author. Candee’s personal account of the Titanic disaster is also included, as is a bibliography and index.
Here's an excerpt from Randy Bryan Bigham's biography of Candee called Life's Decor:
Travel for Helen Candee in the early 1920s increasingly meant Japan, China and the exotic Far Eastern lands of Indonesia and Cambodia. The latter was a chief draw, and in her sixth book, Angkor the Magnificent , now a classic travelogue, Helen's facility for words found inspiration in the mysterious, half-hidden temples and palaces, hanging gardens, sculpture and stonework of the ancient “Wonder City." In her book, the beauty and symbolism of the architecture of the temple of Angkor Wat came in for rapturous praise: One can never look upon the ensemble of the Wat without a thrill, a pause, a feeling of being caught up to the heavens. Perhaps it is the most impressive sight in the world of edifices.
The fascinating ruins of Angkor and their Eden-like environs had only been known to Westerners for fifty years, and weren't widely explored or photographed before Candee's ambitious study. Her book, published by Stokes in 1924, was the work Helen was most proud of. It also brought her the most acclaim. She was commanded to give a private reading of Angkor the Magnificent to King George and Queen Mary and was afterwards asked to Their Majesties' annual garden party at Holyroodhouse, being one of only a few Americans invited. Helen was even decorated by the King of Cambodia in a native ceremony. Captivated by the region, its riches and its people, Helen was pleased that the success of Angkor the Magnificent allowed her to focus on Asia in a series of articles and short stories for newspaper syndication the following year, as well as a special feature for Art and Archeology Magazine.
Bye to Luang Prabang
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Pulse on the record
David Hinds: On Tour, On the New Album, on the United Front for Africa - by Jan Salzman 14 July 2008,
Steel Pulse has been one of my favorite bands for about 25 years. In 1985, the popular band from
Jan: Tell us a little about your new DVD, Door of No Return. David: It’s a DVD that’s a collection of inserts of different scenery, but the body of it was filmed some seven or eight years ago, when we made our first exodus to
Jan: You have been known for your socially conscious lyrics and your stand on socially conscious issues. At what age did this start for you, and is there any particular incident that triggered it? David: I would say that my socially conscious or politically conscious age began when I was about fourteen years old. It was all to do with the “Free Angela Davis” campaign that was happening in
Jan: You are also known for such beautiful spiritual songs as “Chant a Psalm a Day.” At what point did you reach this kind of enlightenment? David: “Chant a Psalm” was written about 1980. It was at a time when the band was at rock bottom…in regards to its career. We had teamed up with
Jan: What kind of music do you listen to when you are on your own? David: I listen to all kinds of music. You would be surprised what I listen to.
Jan: What was the last CD you bought? David: The last CD I got…what I literally bought in my hand was a reggae CD. I think it was Stephen Marley’s Mind Control album. I think it is a very vibrant album. It didn’t hit me at first. That was the strange thing about the album, it never grabbed me at all initially. But, after the third, fourth listening…I think it is one of the best albums that’s out there on the market right now. It’s very underestimated because of the nature of the music…which, well you know, when it comes to the acts that are out there…the ones that are making it in the mainstream…your Sean Paul’s and your Shaggy’s…I think Mind Control is a very technical album. I think it is something that is a spin off and [in the] progressive direction, as what Bob Marley would be doing, in so many different ways. I think all the sons, as a matter of fact, are contributing in a very big way towards how the music should be going, as far as I’m concerned.
Jan: What’s in your CD player right now? David: There’s an artist called Umojah that was passed on to me by one of my associates here within the camp, Rootsman Kelly, which is a new act out there trying to penetrate his reggae vibe. I don’t know much about him. This is what I’m trying to say to you. I listen to unknown acts and I listen to people who are up there. Then I go diverse and I start listening to guys like Papoose and 50 Cent. Trust me. You nah mean. I just jump from different artists to different artists.
Jan: What makes you happy? David: I think what really makes me happy, when I look at the nitty-gritty, is meeting people with positive spirits, people who are intelligent, and have good ideas to share. When I look back on it…that’s what really makes me happy.
Jan: What would be a perfect day for you? David: I find is a perfect day is when I manage to get through all the chores that I’ve written down the night before, which includes if I can get a nice song written or half written. I think that becomes a perfect day for me, because that gives me my greatest high of all… when I have a song that I know is really in the pocket. It just gives me a buzz that nothing else does…to be honest with you.
Jan: Is there a new album in the works that we can look forward to? David: There is a new album in the works. as far as being written. The other band members haven’t heard any of the tracks as yet. We’re putting ideas down, we’re putting subject matters together. I don’t like throwing any old song out there. I don’t like throwing any old groove out there. That’s one of the reasons why the band takes such a long time to put music out. ‘Cause once we put it out, then it’s the whole idea of touring for quite a long while. ‘Cause that’s what usually happens. I don’t like putting dumb lyrics together. I like something that is constructive and has meaning to it. It makes me feel good about what I do, and I think it pays off when I see people come back and compliment the bands’ legacy.
Jan: Yes, I think your work is brilliant. David: Thank you very much. We’re absolutely jet-lagged right now. I’m talking to you on auto-pilot.
Jan: Thank you very much for the interview. I bought the DVD and look forward to watching it. David: There’s another DVD that’s coming out shortly. It’s gonna be in two parts basically. It’s a show that we did in
Jan: Oh, that’s great! Do you have any particular message that you’d like to give your fans or your readers? David: Yeah, we are going to be vamping up our website. We’re not happy with the way it is at the moment. Never been actually, but we’ve never had the time to address it, now we’re finding the time. We want to also launch an organization that we are putting together, via the sales of our merchandise…and that’s called UFFA…United Front For Africa. It has to do with raising and distributing the funds in various parts of
Jan: Are there any songs from your vast repertoire that are favorites of yours? David: Wow, there are so many favorite songs of mine. Sometimes I listen back to tracks like “ Nyabinghi Voyage,” “Door of No Return” …there are certain songs I can’t believe I wrote. Something possessed me at the time. I look back on it and I sort of wake up and realize …Hey, where did these lyrics come from? Those are the songs I feel pleased about. “Soldiers” is probably my all time favorite. Obviously there’s “Rally Round”…there’s so many of them. “Drug Squad,” I like that. When it comes to songs, it’s not only the song itself…it’s how it comes into being in the first place. It had to be an excuse of some kind that brought that song into motion. I’m enjoying putting together the new sets of songs right now. Taking my time with it. See what happens. Let’s hope that the grooves are strong enough to stand up to what the songs are gonna contain.
Jan: Thank you so much for this wonderful interview and for taking time on your jet-lagged body to talk to us. David: Thank you, as well, for all of the support you’ve given us over the years and all those wonderful photographs. I hope to be sifting through some of those for the new website. I’m telling you…I’m serious as a heart attack…Boo Boom! Interview copyright of ReggaeReport.com and Jan Salzman.
The right places
Last night I had a call from Rachel, in town for a couple of days before starting her new job in Siem Reap, to meet on the top of one of Phnom Penh's tallest buildings for cocktails. It's just around the corner from me, it's called The Place and is a smart, newly-opened mish-mash of restaurants, bars, a gym and more besides. Not somewhere I'd usually visit but worth it for a view over the rooftops of Phnom Penh at night, looking down towards and past the Independence Monument. My photo doesn't really do the view justice but with a pepsi at $3.50 it won't be the place for me.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Pocket guide review
It kicks off with a top-six highlights, includes two walking tours as well as interviews with locals such as Nhiem Chun, the famed sweeper of Ta Prohm, Angkor guide Srei Omnoth and scholar Dr Ang Choulean. Here's a sample of Snapshots - Spas & Massages to give you a flavour:
Foot-massage shops are spread out around Psar Chaa and offer a range of remedies for dispirited soles.... Siem Reap is littered with massage shops, but some offer more 'services' than others. Gentlemen should not be surprised to be offered a 'happy ending' in certain establishments, but the amount of make-up caking the face of the masseuse is usually a good indication that traditional massage may not be high on the agenda.
As I said, cheap and cheerful. It costs $12.99, is in full colour and will be published in September.