Friday, September 24, 2010

Tale of woe

Neither Rumnea (left) or Sophoin are ever stuck for something to say. Here they gabble on over our meal at Mount Everest.
Tonight I had dinner with two of my very best friends, Rumnea and Sophoin, at our favourite Indian restaurant, Mount Everest. I haven't seen Sophoin for the last few months and it was good to catch up, even though it was pretty much a tale of woe that she had to tell. This included being duped by an old school friend and losing her computer, money and jewelry; loss being quite a common thread amongst people I meet these days. Earlier today I met a friend of a friend from Siem Reap who was in the city to collect some money she was owed and as she was buying a few clothes in the Central market before boarding her bus back home, she had over $1,000 pinched from her handbag. She was understandably distraught.
At lunch I caught up with historical fiction author Robyn Adams, who is in town to do some research for a novel she is writing on Cambodian women. Robyn is from Australia and her last book was called The Sisterhood of the Rose. This is her third time in Cambodia and she is here for two weeks to seek out suitable contacts to flesh out her story. I wish her well. Another author, David Kattenburg has confirmed that his book, Foxy Lady - Truth, Memory and the Death of Western Yatchtsmen in Democratic Kampuchea, will be published next month and will highlight for the first time the story of Canadian victim of the Khmer Rouge, Stuart Glass, as well as the other westerners who died at the hands of Comrade Duch and his S-21 killers in the late 70s. Its a book I'm really looking forward to reading.
Yesterday I spent the whole day at a conference on responsible tourism alongwith another 70 Cambodian travel agents to discuss the impact on our business of what is becoming a key buzzword in the tourism industry, alongside sustainable tourism, eco-tourism, ethical tourism and a whole host of other isms. Interesting and thought provoking for most of the people in the room, organised by the Dutch NGO, SNV and CATA, the association of local travel agents. It certainly gave me a few pointers for our own company, Hanuman, for the future. Tomorrow its Open Door Weekend and in the morning I'll be paying my first-ever visit to the Chamkarmon Palace compound, where the Cambodian Senate (or upper house) are usually secreted behind closed doors. Tomorrow, they will swing open at 9.30am for a one-off visit. In the afternoon, I'll be joining a free guided tour of the National Museum and I'm sure to pop into a few of the other buildings that are opening their doors especially for the weekend. Tomorrow night the Cambodian Space Project are playing at Paddy Rice bar and on Sunday, it's the Kompong Speu village party with the Spacers putting on a coach party for their fans.

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