Monday, April 30, 2012

Be prepared

A sneak look at the PPCFC team photo in the new Year Book
Be prepared for lots of footy stuff, even on my non-football blog this week, as there's a big competition taking place in Phnom Penh and I'll be taking a few days off work as I'm heavily involved as the press officer for Phnom Penh Crown. We have a television commercial coming out any minute now, that will be blasted all over the Cambodian television channels to raise awareness amongst the football-loving public, especially as it has a prize draw and entertainment in the form of hip-hop bands at the games, etc. A sure way to attract the attention of Khmer youths. Give them a few free phone calls as well and they'll be your friend for life. I've just finished writing a new 2012 Year Book for the football club and that will be printed and distributed by the end of this week as well. There will be a lot more going on too, with a major press conference this Friday when everyone and their dog from the media will be present. 'The opposition teams will be arriving this week ahead of the first matches on Saturday. At some stage I will write a few posts about my recent Ratanakiri trip so it won't be solely football-related. That's the least I can do, or else people will leave my blog in droves. Yeah right. How many people are there in a drove anyway?

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Now on video

Phnom Penh Crown finally have someone to hold the video camera during games and then edit the highlights for our footy matches. Aman is from India and he got in touch to offer his services a couple of weeks ago. He's in Cambodia as the country manager of an NGO and obviously loves football. He spent seven hours editing the first highlights video of our match against BBU, so he must love football. He made a good fist of the match against BBU and we are now planning on having video highlights on the club's official website from now on. Well, for as long as Aman has the time to video and then edit his handiwork. We've been looking for a videographer for the past year. They are like gold-dust. You can watch the BBU highlights at

Sunday morning and I was up and out by 6.30am on my way to hook up with the bus taking the Cambodian U-14 national team out to Kambol for a practice match against Preah Khan Reach. Playing against the physically-bigger under-16s from the club team was a tough ask for the younger boys but that was the object of the exercise, though both teams found it hard going under the exhausting hot sun. Getting on the bus - it's the bus provided by the Football Federation of Cambodia for use by all the national teams - I was aghast at the swarms of mosquitoes that engulfed everyone inside the bus. I have literally never seen so many mozzies in one place. If that wasn't bad enough, the cranky old bus then conked out about a kilometre up the road and I was forced to return the fifteen kilometres to home by motodop, rather than wait an hour for a second bus. Moral of the story - don't trust the Football Federation to do anything right. No change there then.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

In conference

Smiles are seemingly not  the order of the day
We staged a press conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel this morning to formally announce details of next week's AFC President's Cup football group matches involving Phnom Penh Crown. All went well, with eight TV stations turning up to record the event alongwith online and print media. We have another press conference this Friday when all the teams - four in total - will be present the day before the action begins. The picture above was in showing the Crown representatives at today's event. We don't exactly look like a happy bunch do we. And we're not exactly colour co-ordinated either. I'm in the white shirt at the back if you didn't guess. The group picture also appeared in too (below).
The PPCFC team at the press conference - click to enlarge

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Kratie shit-tip

The Kratie riverfront becomes a rubbish dumping ground

On the way to Ratanakiri we did as most people do, we paused in Kratie for a spot of lunch. Kratie has always been a welcome break, situated on the banks of the Mekong River and host to some of the most beautiful sunsets in the whole of Cambodia. I have a long-standing affection for Kratie. On this trip I saw a very different side to the town. The riverside area was a shit-tip and stank to high heaven under the mid-day sun. The locals blame the fire that destroyed the main market a block away from the riverside. That meant the only place for the stall-holders to ply their wares was alongside the river. On my previous visit, the stalls were hugging both sides of the river road and it looked a mess. But this time around, many of the stalls had moved back into the new market building and simply left all their crap and rubbish littering the riverfront area and adjoining sidestreets. Leaving your rubbish for someone else to clear up is common practice in this country. In Kratie, the only ones interested in the refuse are the animals. If no-one takes responsibility for their crap, this will put many people off staying any longer than a few hours or a day at most in what was a very pleasant location. Sad to say.

Only the animals seem interested in the rubbish - the locals don't

A sidestreet next to the pagoda gets the rubbish treatment too

The colonial-era buildings have been spruced up but the riverside has not 

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

For Gibbon lovers

Yes, that really is a gibbon swinging through the trees - it is not Tarzan
A bit more on the gibbons. They were playing in the tree-tops, rarely come down to ground level and so getting a picture of them is tough. Especially when you have a point and shoot like me. This is my best photo.  But in my defence, it was 5am in the morning, they were high in the trees, they move very fast when they are not eating or lying down, and last but not least, I am not a wildlife photographer. Far from it, very far in fact. I've also posted a photo of what they look like close-up.
This is a female buff-cheeked gibbon. The males are black.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back from Rats

I've just walked out of the jungle after 2 hours of chasing gibbons
I'm back home after my monkey exploits in Ratanakiri. Experiencing the rare gibbons in their natural habitat was a buzz, their whooping call was mesmerizing, though the combination of bumpy roads, boat and bicycle trip to get to the forest camp, crashing through the thick jungle on separate night-time and very early morning hikes and then cycling back to civilization was pretty tiring. I'm definitely not as young as I used to be. Much more on the trip in the coming days.

Don't forget the book launch of my pal Cristiano Calcagno's book on Kompong Thom province at Monument Books tomorrow (Thursday) night from 6pm, on Norodom Boulevard.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Too high-tech

 David Chandler (right) with myself (center) in July 2009
The coughing has died down so the Ratanakiri trip (= monkey spotting in the jungle) looks likely to happen. Due to leave Phnom Penh early on Sunday morning and return next Thursday evening. No updates during that time as much of it will be spend in the forest/jungle or travelling up to and back from the far northeast of the country. I've not yet graduated to getting online whilst mobile, way too high-tech for me.

The first batch of foreign expert witnesses, who will appear in trial 002 at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have been announced. They include the number 1 authority on all things Cambodian, scholar David Chandler; Philip Short, author of a biography on Pol Pot; Henri Locard, a French historian; and Elizabeth Becker, a journalist who interviewed Pol Pot whilst he was in power in 1978. Their testimony will be heard later this year. Trial 002 is for the three senior Khmer Rouge regime leaders, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary.

Not convinced how this post will look as the template for posting stories on Blogger has just changed without notice and it seems a little clunky to me. Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Coming up

The Cambodian Space Project have a new album out soon enough, their second, to be called Not Easy RockNRoll and they'll be previewing it in their last show before they head overseas again, this time on their way to Hong Kong and Macau. The venue will be Mao's Nightclub on the riverside in Phnom Penh on Friday 4 May at 9pm. Entry costs a token $2.

Next Thursday (26 April) at 6pm at Monument Books on Norodom Boulevard, Cristiano Calcagno will be unveiling a labour of love that took him years to complete. It initially began as a search for the ancient temples dotted around the Cambodian province in which he had made his home, before it took on a new life as a look both at the provinces' ancient history but much more besides. His diligent research identified well over 400 ancient sites in the province of Kompong Thom alone and Cambodia deserves a Cristiano in every province to properly document the rich treasures that lie within its boundaries. Kompong Thom province has been blessed by his research. Cristiano's book is titled Kampong Thom and Its Province. Unfortunately, I'm likely to be in Ratanakiri and may have to miss the book launch, but I urge you to attend to support this worthwhile personal project.

My adventure in Ratanakiri will also mean missing the next edition of the Cambodia Comedy Club this coming Monday (23 April) at Pontoon. Tickets are a bit cheaper than usual at $8 and the comedians will come from the UK, Canada and Malaysia. Doors open at 7pm.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coughing update

Fed up of coughing myself to sleep momentarily and then sweating myself through another sleepless night, so took a recommendation and visited an ear, nose and throat specialist last night in Tuol Kork. He confidently predicted I would be better in five days and packed me off with a bag of pills and nasal spray. He exuded an air of confidence that I rarely see in the medical profession, which made me feel good about his advice and treatment. We shall see if he can back up his confidence and break the back of this coughing problem.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Facing the camera

It's time for an official PPCFC team photo, minus three players
It's just after 7am this morning at the Olympic Stadium and the Phnom Penh Crown team had gathered for this team photo as well as a television commercial shoot, to feature a few of the players, not all, in the promotion of the upcoming AFC President's Cup qualifying matches in early May. Trying to get 30 guys to stand or sit in the right place can be a headache. We forgot to bring the championship trophy to show off, as well as the specially-printed Crown footballs and the physio didn't turn up. And to cap it all, three players were missing with illness, so as a team picture it's not actually complete. But only we know that.
The less glamorous side of a team photo-shoot


Monday, April 16, 2012

Pulse in view

Steel Pulse. Back Row: Jerry Johnson, C-Sharp, David Hinds, Keysha McTaggart, Selwyn Brown, Donovan McKitty. Front: Sydney Mills, Amlak Tafari
Group photos of reggae legends Steel Pulse are pretty rare, so when they do surface, its worth recording them for posterity. This one was taken just a couple of days ago during their current tour of the United States. It's not exactly a professional shoot but it's as good as it gets. The band will be heading for a series of gigs in Brazil in May. You can find out a lot more about the group here.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back online

Finally, after two days of visits from the technicians from Online, my internet is working without the need for medical attention. Unlike me. The latest batch of pills from the doctor are doing some good but its still not clearing as quickly as I'd like. Swallowing is a problem and even sneezing a couple of times yesterday had me struggling to breathe. For thirty seconds each time I simply couldn't get any air through my windpipe. Very strange and very worrying. Meanwhile, Online worked out that the modem needed changing so they duly obliged at no cost but still it wouldn't connect. They reconfigured it again and hey presto I'm now online. Let's hope that's the end of it. As for the pharyngitis, who knows. I've done bugger all for two days, managing to get out for some food but otherwise completely wasting the New Year holiday. Not feeling good is my reason but still if feels like a waste of valuable free time.

I have a trip to look forward to in the near future, if I can rid myself of this cough. A week today and I'm off to Ratanakiri, that's northeast Cambodia for those who don't know, to go monkey spotting. Yes, that's right, spotting gibbons in the jungle. Seeing the incredibly rare northern yellow-cheeked gibbons in their natural habitat to be precise. Well, that's the plan. A two-night jungle camp, cycling and trekking, as much monkey-business as we can muster, sleeping in hammocks (which I detest with a vengeance), all in the name of keeping up to date with the latest ecotourism project to come on line. Ratanakiri is known for its waterfalls, lakes and ethnic villages but wildlife has been tough to find unless you are prepared to spend many days in the harsh and inhospitable Virachey national park. However, discovered just a couple of years ago, a surprisingly large population of what were thought to be rare gibbons, have been located in the Voen Sai region, on the outskirts of the national park, and I'm off to meet up with them. The project, under the Conservation International umbrella, calls them habituated gibbons, which means they don't run for the hills when they see humans, and if we're very lucky we might get to see wild pygmy-loris and the recently uncovered Iridescent short-legged lizard and Walston’s tube-nosed bat. Highly unlikely, but you never know. The organisers have planned a night-time jungle hike and a 3am before-dawn trek as well, which sounds like a hard slog to me, though nothing could ever be as hard as the 80km bicycle-ride-of-death I did in Mondulkiri a few years ago. Surely not. Group sizes are limited to six people only to avoid distressing the animals we might encounter. To avoid further distress I've been told not to talk about Phnom Penh Crown FC with any gibbons I meet, however friendly they might be. Bit harsh I thought. Wish me luck.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

The last great forest temple

A new book on Banteay Chhmar
River Books have two new publications on their 'forthcoming titles' listings that I'm looking forward to see on the bookshelves. One of them, Beyond Angkor, has been on the waiting list for a long time, at least a couple of years. It's a look at the Angkor temples beyond those at Angkor and goes in search of the smaller temple sites both in Cambodia, Laos and in Thailand. Helen Ibbitson Jessup is the author, aided by Ang Choulean's insights into ethnography and mythology, accompanied by John Gollings’ photography. I hope it'll be out soon enough. The other book on the list that grabs my attention is Banteay Chhmar: The Last Great Forest Temple. Always one of my favourite temples, Peter Sharrock has brought together a team of international experts, including Claude Jacques, Olivier Cunin and Thierry Zephir, to decipher the reliefs of the master carvers, identify the esoteric Buddhist deities and open a new vista on Jayavarman VII’s reign. The book will be illustrated with 200 colour photographs by Paisarn Piemmettawat. The last book dedicated to this temple was published in Japan and called the Face Towers of Banteay Chhmar, with photos by Baku Saito and text from Olivier Cunin.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

I have my doubts

Back to the doctors again today for another look at my coughing problem and the prognosis is pharyngitis with the added complication of occasional blockage of the airway. So what started off as a chesty cough has now been narrowed down to a sore throat. I have my doubts. Anyways, after I refused an injection in my arse - I've had one before and boy was it painful - I've been given 18 tablets a day to swallow, so we'll see how that works over the Khmer New Year. I was intending to stay home and work on my writing anyway, so it's no big deal, especially as much of Phnom Penh has closed down for this holiday weekend anyway. To add to my frustration, I was the happy recipient of a brand new laptop from my office yesterday - I've had to put up with my old cranky one for nearly five years - so the arrival of a new one, still in the wrapping was a joyous occasion. But not for long. Got it home and the internet connection (broadband) didn't work, despite spending half an hour talking through it with the internet provider's technician. I went to bed in a strop. I'll try again tomorrow. Grrr!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Finding herself

Lulu in the Sky is the third book by renowned author Loung Ung (above), and it hits the bookshelves this month. Feted for her two previous memoirs, First they Killed my Father and Lucky Child, Lulu will be another personal account, this time hosting a series of stories about her life in the States and going back to Cambodia, not only as an activist, but as a sister, an aunt and a daughter. Subtitled as A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing and Double Happiness, it will be an upbeat collection of tales, published by Harper Collins. 368 pages. Look out for it, and buy it.
Lulu in the Sky, the third book by author Loung Ung, is published this month

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Walter's in town

Here I am blowing magic dust onto my book to make it more readable at the book launch
Travel writer and speaker, Walter Mason is apparently in-country completing his latest book. About Cambodia. His first book, Destination Saigon, a funny, touching and unique journey through contemporary Vietnam was named one of the 10 best travel books of 2010 by the Sydney Morning Herald. He's really a gamekeeper turned poacher, having been a bookseller in a previous existence. If I find out more about his Cambodia book, I'll let you know. It's likely be out early next year. So why mention Walter? Well, in his blog in November he listed his 5 best books about Cambodia and included in the list was my very own To Cambodia With Love. His view: "Just came out this year, it's quite a lovely little book. Collections of observations and stories about different places/experiences in Cambodia written by different people. Well worth reading." Can't agree more Walter, though I would say that of course. The other books in his list were: Cambodia's Curse by Joel Brinkley; The Gate by Francois Bizot; Phnom Penh: A Cultural History by Milton Osborne; Cambodian Buddhism by Ian Harris. You can catch up with Walter's blog here.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

My latest creation

The latest incarnation of the official website of Phnom Penh Crown FC has just been launched. It's shiny and new though not yet 100% complete. It still has a few features to be added but I didn't want to keep it under wraps any longer. An in-depth player portrait will be the next addition. It's done, just needs loading. We'd love to add a video section but no-one has replied to our advert for a videographer to come and join our small team. A big pat on the back for Bunsak who has been chipping away at the new website for the last few months - we finally got there thanks to his perseverance. It was his job to turn my ideas into something concrete. Have a look for yourself @

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Naby on top form

One of the few times that the energetic Naby stood still for the whole show
The Senegalese reggae sound of Naby was welcomed with open arms by a good-sized crowd at Chenla Theatre tonight. With a traditional reggae style, drums and bass to the fore, and with a saxophonist that was a master at his art, Naby and his band put on an excellent show and really got the evening off to a great start by inviting the children from Krousar Thmey onto the stage in their fourth song, for an impromptu choir session, that got everyone into the spirit and out of their chairs. Reggae music is to be enjoyed and the move worked a treat, with many of the audience showing their dancing steps in the space in front of the stage. From that point on, Naby could do no wrong. Naby is part entertainer, part singer and his involvement with the audience was a big positive for the arrival of reggae in Cambodia. He made it fun and it worked. A downside for me was that his interaction and his songs were in the French language. I've not heard reggae in French before, a language I don't speak and so joining in the vocals was a no-no, or should that be non-non. However, the concert was to celebrate the Institut Francais 20th anniversary so that speaks for itself. Naby was due to join the band Dub Addiction at Equinox later tonight but I didn't make it after I suffered an adverse reaction to my meal after the gig and instead went home to recover.
The children of Krousar Thmey join Naby on stage for an impromptu sing-a-long

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Back in town

It's all fun on stage for Srey Thy and Julien of Cambodian Space Project
Late last night, the Cambodian Space Project came back to town. After four months of gigging and travelling down under and other places on the international map, Julien and Srey Thy brought their danceable Cambodian sound back home, playing their first gig at Mao's nightclub since their recent arrival on these shores. Srey Thy has grown in confidence with her performances overseas, and with the band reunited with their homegrown team on stage, the performance was invigorating and great fun. The concert was the first in a trio of performances I've earmarked for this weekend. The other two are tonight, when Senegalese reggae artist Naby and his band perform at Chenla from 7pm - it's free and an anniversary concert for the Frenchies - and then later, I hear Naby will be joining Dub Addiction on stage at Equinox. Dub Addiction are one of the city's favourite bands these days, with the make-up of the band being western and Khmer, with dub reggae, ragga and jungle infused into their sound (whatever ragga and jungle might be - two styles of music that have passed me by). Though I'm a traditionalist when it comes to my reggae, Dub Addiction do a good job in getting my feet moving, so that's a thumbs up from me.
Cambodian Space Project in psychedelic mode under the club's red lights (which my camera cannot cope with)

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Beaming smiles

It's time for games after today's speeches finished at the NBIC
This morning, Cambodia celebrated the World Down's Syndrome and World Autism Awareness Day with a ceremony at the National Borei center near Nothbridge School, in order to highlight the work that is taking place in the country through organizations like Komar Pikar Foundation, PSE and others. But it is clearly not enough. These organizations are simply scratching at the surface of this country-wide problem where families and authorities don't understand autism or Down's Syndrome, or any intellectual disability. Physical disability they can understand because they can see it. Mental or intellectual disability is something entirely different. Many families have no coping mechanism and even chain their disabled children up during the day or even make them live with the family animals. No-one knows the extent of the problem throughout the country. The government authorities put a finger in the air and guess the size of it. Meanwhile, Komar Pikar are doing as much as they can, with limited resources, to provide these children with a better quality of life. They have 3 daycare centers in the town of Chhouk, between Phnom Penh and Kampot, where they try to integrate intellectually disabled children into the mainstream school, provide them with sports days or trips to the zoo and more besides. At today's celebration, some 170 children from a variety of NGOs, together with 70 caring staff and 50 parents sat through the speeches and then you could see the smiles beaming across their faces as they received gifts and started playing games. For them, this was the highlight of the celebration. And rightly so.
Kulikar Sotho, Hanuman's chief speaks to Kong Vichetra, the executive director of Komar Pikar
A photo from DAP news who covered today's event - well done to DAP


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Finding my funnybone

The line-up for the next Comedy Club Cambodia session has just been announced. The date is Monday 23 April, 8am and tickets have dropped to $8pp. If this one bombs will the prices go even lower? The people who will make us laugh, we hope, are Jen Brister from UK (pictured), known for her sarcastic cynicism, Canadian Paul Myrehaug and Rizal Van Geyzal from Malaysia. I think the idea is to have some Asian flavour thrown into the mix. We shall see if it flies. In addition, Australian expat Evan Handed (not his real name) will do a spot. I found the last session to be the least successful so far, so I'm banking on this one to restore the hilarity.


Arn's story

Keep an eye out for a new book release from HarperCollins entitled Never Fall Down, a novel by Patricia McCormick based on the true life story of Arn Chorn-Pond. It'll be out next month and will look at the fictional life of a boy sent to a Khmer Rouge prison camp where he survived by playing the flute to keep his captors entertained. The real Arn Chorn-Pond is the man responsible for Cambodian Living Arts and was the focus of a documentary called The Flute Player and a 2008 children's book by Michelle Lord, called A Song for Cambodia. Renowned author Loung Ung had this to say about the novel. "Arn Chorn Pond is a fast-talking dynamo with endless energy and zest for life. In Never Fall Down, Patricia McCormick captures brilliantly the man, his heart, and his passion to make Cambodia and our world a better place for all. Arn’s against-all-odds survival story and McCormick’s crisp prose gripped me from the first page to the very end." Here's an interview with the author.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Feds on the hunt

The Duryodhana statue (left) and its sister statue, Bhima, which is on display at the Norton Simon Museum
Federal agents in the United States are off to Sotheby's to impound a 10th century statue that everyone and their dog knows was stolen from the Koh Ker complex of temples in Cambodia, but proving it in court - ie. coming up with the exact date when it was stolen, etc - may be a tricky one to resolve. Nevertheless, the whole episode has put the searchlight firmly into the public arena again and should leave a lot more than egg on the face of auction houses that have been selling off pieces of Khmer culture for decades, claiming that they were legally saleable items. Of course, that's pure bullshit and just a smokescreen to cover their asses. These items were stolen, whisked away under cover of darkness, usually in collusion with shady military figures on the Cambodian side, and found their way into private collections around the globe. It's when those items come up for sale, is when the attention of the press and experts goes viral. The federal government’s claim is that the statue was looted during the Cambodian civil war and rests partly on findings by a French archaeologist, Eric Bourdonneau, who reported that the work had been seen in place as recently as the 1960s, that a road built after 1965 provided the first easy access to the site, and that the piece did not appear on the art market until its first known sale in Britain in 1975. Even more damning, is that the feet of the statue are still in situ at Prasat Chen in the Koh Ker complex. Sotheby's counter claim that the seller had clear provenance for the item. Well they would, wouldn't they. I've seen papers filed by the Feds that indicate Sotheby's knew exactly what they were doing but the dollar signs proved too lucrative. They were warned off making a splash about it by an expert scholar, but proceeded anyway. More fool them. The scholar also revealed some other interesting information which may cause a ripple or two here in Cambodia. The name of the statue is Duryodhana, and its sister statue, Bhima, from the same temple, is currently on display at the Norton Simon Museum in California. The scholar suggested that Cambodia would not be seeking repatriation of that item, despite asking for the one from Sotheby's, which if true, is a very sad state of affairs.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Looking ahead this week

It's a musical end to this week with the Cambodian Space Project back in town after a lifetime away and they'll be re-appearing at Mao's nightclub this coming Friday (6 April), free for all and bashing out all their old favourites and no doubt a few new numbers as well. The following day, Saturday (7 April) has the French Cultural Center staging a reggae concert to mark their anniversary, with the Senegalese artist Naby and his band, rocking the stage at Chenla Theatre from 7pm. Tickets are also free and available from the cultural center. I will be intrigued to see how this gig is received by the Cambodians in attendance as reggae is accepted everywhere else for its relaxed, laid-back and appealing style - I wonder whether the Khmers will find it likewise. I hope so as I'd love to see high profile reggae bands heading out this way in the future. Had a chat today with the organizers of a major music festival that may possibly be heading to the Angkor temples in the early part of next year. It sounds like it'll be a massive event if it comes off and certainly one to look forward to.
The Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh has a new exhibition of photographs from Thursday this week called Impact Clearing Cambodia's Deadly Legacy, as a follow-on from the Clear Landmines Now awareness week that ran from 28 March until tomorrow. The photos will feature Sean Sutton's work who has been on countless visits to Cambodia documenting the incredible work of MAG (Mines Advisory Group) in pictures. Also as part of their 20 year anniversary, the Institut Francais are holding a fashion show on Thursday (5 April) at their Street 184 headquarters, where they will also host an exhibition by French-Cambodian graphic novelist and sculptor Sera and Paris-based graffiti artist Seth. If reggae isn't your thing, then get along to the free classical dance performance at the Khmer Arts Ensemble HQ in Takhmao at 7pm on Saturday (7 April).

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Exposing the vermin

At last, The Cambodia Daily wrote a piece in their paper today about the vermin that sell drugs, openly, outside the Foreign Correspondents Club on the riverside every day. The local police said they weren't aware of it, even though everyone and their dog knew about it for a very long time. I've been offered all kinds of drugs as well as women by the sly, sneaky, scruffy and obnoxious low life who hang around that corner, and I always reply with a string of expletives that leave them in no doubt that they have approached the wrong customer. But that doesn't deter them as they spot the next foreigner and make a beeline for him or her. Like their 'brothers' at the border-crossings, these people are the worst possible advertisement for Cambodia, yet they are the ones who stick in the memory for their abhorrent behaviour. The police are busy clearing the streets of undesirables ahead of the Asean Summit, yet these are exactly the people they should be targetting.
The last few days have seen a big dent in my private life. I'm talking about the disappearance of ESPN and Star Sports from the television channels at my disposal. These two channels beamed football into my home almost 24/7, which was of course an overdose but good whenever I needed my football fix, but all that's come crashing down around my head, and the head of many others. These channels carried most of the Barclays Premier League matches, either live or recorded, so everyone in Cambodia is up to speed on the latest BPL news and form of the teams. Or, they were. Now, with the news that the host channel here in Cambodia has lost the rights to beam them into our homes, there are a lot of disgruntled football fans in the country right now. Including me.


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