Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In high demand

Mary Neth looking gorgeously vampish in this latest publicity photo

Never one to shy away from attractive ladies on my blog, here's a couple of pictures of the actress who will play the leading role in the forthcoming feature film, The Last Reel. Now if you ask me her name, I can give you at least four replies - Ma Ranet, Mary Neth, Ma Rynet or Daneth - I have yet to work out which is the right/real one. Her performance in The Last Reel will blow your socks off when the film gets its release later this year. She's also just landed a main role in Smart Girls, a first-ever Cambodian TV detective series, twice-weekly peaktime broadcasts due in July or August on CTN, one of Cambodia's top rated channels. An actress in high demand.
Mary Neth (in red) alongside her co-star in The Last Reel, Khmer icon Dy Saveth

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Tears for Cambodia

As part of his career in the Army, author Ed Mooney spent a year in Cambodia. His recently published historical novel, Tears for Cambodia, sees an American officer revisiting Cambodia to seek relief from lifelong nightmares, and to face the ghosts of savage combat experiences while assigned to an elite American logistics team whose mission was to assist the pro-American Cambodian regime in the early 1970s. Tears for Cambodia is a sympathetic portrait of an officer helplessly following orders, even though he knows they will result in tragedy. Max’s pain and the courage with which he faces his demons are compelling, and readers will be rooting for Max and his redemption. This is the first novel for Mooney, who drew upon his personal experience in Cambodia as well as the experiences of a number of other men. Max is created from a composite of these recollections, creating a fascinating first-hand view of a tour in 1970s Cambodia. Published by Dog Ear Publishing, 292 pages. The author's own website is at
A study by Nicholas Tarling in Britain and Sihanouk's Cambodia, is set for publication by NUS Press later this year. Over 400 pages, it will delve into the diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Britain at the height of the Cold War, revealing much about British foreign policy at that time and Sihanouk's efforts to sustain Cambodia's integrity vis-a-vis its more powerful neighbours.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Recent round-up

Tomorrow is a wrap for two television shoots in Cambodia. Jeremy Wade and the River Monsters team have been here to film an episode of the popular Animal Planet series. Destination Truth host Josh Gates has also been back in Cambodia to film a new Travel Channel series combining adventure, archaeology and mystery called Expedition Unknown.

BucketFeet is a footwear brand built around the idea that there are millions of talented people around the world and that their art deserves to be seen. Art shouldn't have to live on a wall, it should travel. Cambodian urban artist Lisa Mam gets her chance to join BucketFeet @

Chef Christian Bauer visits Princess Norodom Buppha Devi in Cambodia and does what he does best, feed members of the Royal Family @ ...great to see one of my favourite people on the planet, Denise Heywood, involved in the programme.  

Coming up....The Tini Tinou Cambodian Circus Festival by Phare, The Cambodian Circus and Phare Ponleu Selpak in PPenh at the Big Top (near NagaWorld) on 7 & 8 May from 6pm. Tickets $4.
On 9 May, start 7pm, at the Dept of Performing Arts is a Contemporary Dance Platform event. Only $2.50 in advance.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Elvis of Cambodia

A new documentary in the works, Elvis of Cambodia, by American director Chris G Parkhurst, will focus on the legendary man of Cambodian music, Sin Sisamouth. Initially perceived as an exhaustive bio-pic of the great singer, it will now be a story that will follow two Cambodian men and how their life courses have been motivated and influenced by Sisamouth and his music.  It is through their eyes that the audience will witness how and why someone like Sisamouth has not only survived a regime that attempted to eliminate all music and its makers from Cambodia, but is in every sense of the word, still as relevant today as he was in his heyday. And it also will be through their eyes, as well as other leading experts, that they will examine the whys and hows of Cambodian copyright law. In particular, how it pertains to Sisamouth’s music, as his son, Sin Chanchaya, has tried for decades, to no avail, to get his family to properly receive royalties for his father’s music. No date for the finished product yet, but music lovers and Sisamouth fans will get a kick out of this documentary for sure.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

At the table

Rumnea, in partial colour, just about to tuck into some lok lac
Among a plethora of photos coming your way after our recent Battambang visit, are these at the restaurant at the lovely Bambu Hotel. They looked after us - Rumnea and myself - extremely well and we'd recommend the Bambu without a moment's hesitation. More on the Bambu to come.
Continuing my fascination with high definition

Rumnea trying her cute pose at breakfast

I'm trying to eat healthily, in high definition of course

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Memorial at Wat Samrong Knong

The memorial stupa at Wat Samrong Knong

During my recent Battambang adventures over Khmer New Year, I paid a visit to Wat Samrong Knong, just outside the city, to see the genocide memorial stupa that had been erected since my last visit in 2006. Over 10,000 people were killed by the Khmer Rouge in that location and buried in mass graves in the area of the stupa. A tableau (or bas relief) in concrete, explaining in English as to what took place at the site they call Well of Shadows. The remains of many of those who died line the walls of the memorial stupa. It was a sobering visit after the raucous water-bombing along the road to Ek Phnom earlier that same afternoon.  Today marks the anniversary, 39 years ago, that the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh and began the evacuation of the city, as they did in the main provincial towns all over the country. Cambodia would never be the same again.
The concrete tableau and windows of the memorial stupa

One of the 10,000 victims killed at the site

One of the bas reliefs at Wat Samrong Knong

Examples of the torture inflicted by the Khmer Rouge at Wat Samrong Knong

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Anyone who thought there was a government-induced ban on splashing water and powder on people at Khmer New Year should think again. Not only along the road to Ek Phnom just outside Battambang (I still have an imprint from the plastic bag water-bomb that hit me smack in the middle of my forehead) but on Highway 6, the water and powder funsters were at it, throwing bags of water at fast-moving vehicles and motorbike riders that is, in my opinion, an accident waiting to happen. I'm all for a bit of fun but when it puts lives in danger then it's no longer a joking matter. The water-bombers here have gone crazy this year with small plastic bags filled with water or pond water (or whatever they can fill them with), some of which have ice-cubes inside, and which are thrown with as much venom as possible at passing cyclists, moto-drivers, tuk-tuk passengers, etc, from close range. I watched police standing idly by (which is a talent they have in great quantities) while this mayhem was talking place on small country roads as well as the National Highway. Soaking your friends is one thing, throwing missiles at passing road users is another one entirely. And the litter problem directly stemming from these plastic bags is yet another horrible stain on the Cambodian countryside. Actions have consequences.



LtoR: Theara, Boromey, Holly, me, Chakrya, Sak
Great to see my old friend Sak and his lovely family whilst I was in Battambang. Rumnea and I were invited to their home on two consecutive nights for dinner and it was great to catch up after a few years of not seeing each other. Though trying to get a word in edgeways once Theara and Rumnea got started, was a tough act. Both of Sak's elder daughters, Boromey and Chakrya, are studying in Phnom Penh but were home for the New Year holidays, whilst the youngest, Holly, is still studying at primary school. His son, Chamnap was stuck in Phnom Penh. I last recall visiting their home back in 2007. Way too long ago.
2007 edition: LtoR (back row); Theara and Sak; (front row) Chamnap, Holly, Boromey and Chakrya

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Otherwise engaged

With Rumnea just before our Norry (bamboo train) ride in Battambang
In Battambang for Khmer New Year since Saturday evening. Lots to do, so little time to write. Will update when I have a window of opportunity.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Coming home to Handsworth

Steel Pulse are heading home to Handsworth in July
Wicked...Steel Pulse are confirmed as headliners of the Simmer Down Festival in Handsworth Park, Birmingham on Sunday 20th July 2014. Handsworth is their backyard and the band played at the Park nearly 40 years ago, so this is a homecoming worthy of the name. Just wish I was there to witness it. I hope Basil and Grizzly will be on stage with them at some point and that Yaz Alexander will be on the bill too. Busy playing all over the globe, appearances by Steel Pulse in the UK are pretty rare so returning to their hometown will be extra special. They will be playing in Gibraltar and Belgium the previous two nights before hopping over to Brum. Read all about Steel Pulse on my website @

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Christopher Howes

Christopher Howes, murdered by the Khmer Rouge in 1996
Eighteen years ago this month, Christopher Howes, a British mine-clearing expert with the Mines Advisory Group lost his life in Anlong Veng, in northern Cambodia. Khmer Rouge forces captured Christopher, his interpreter Houn Hourth and their 20-strong de-mining unit on 26 March 1996. The team were soon released, but the Bristol-born former Royal Engineer and Hourth were kept hostage, with the Cambodian murdered soon after. Christopher was taken to the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng and was executed a few days later. It took twelve years to track down and bring to justice those responsible and on 14 October 2008, a Cambodian judge convicted four men in the kidnapping and murder of Christopher and Hourth. The guilty verdicts and 20 year jail sentences were handed down to Khem Nguon, who was known to be the deputy commander of the Khmer Rouge forces at Anlong Veng and who ordered the execution, Loch Mao, who witnesses identified as the man who shot Howes, and their driver Puth Lim, who admitted being present at the murder and to burning the body. A fourth defendant, Sin Dorn was found guilty of kidnapping the deminers and received a ten year jail term. For his bravery, Christopher was posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal and Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk named a street in the capital after him. You can read much more about Christopher, the media reports at that time and the men responsible, here.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekend away

On a boat at Kompong Pluk
Weekend in Siem Reap, work party and stuff. Here I am on a boat in Kompong Pluk, floating village near Siem Reap, and with my work colleagues after a scavenger hunt around Angkor Thom. More to follow.
Hanuman scavengers at East Gate, Angkor Thom

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Groslier's remote temples

In The Shadow of Angkor - new edition by DatASIA
I've been trying to confirm whether a new publication from DatASIA Press has been published yet, but without any joy. Amazon tells me it came out in February but I have my doubts. In the Shadow of Angkor - Unknown Temples of Ancient Cambodia was written by Georges Groslier and concentrated on his 1913 expedition to some of the remoter temples of that era including Preah Vihear, Wat Phu, Beng Mealea and Banteay Chhmar. This modern edition by Kent Davis - enhanced with 75 period illustrations and detailed appendices - offers readers the first English translation of the dangers, discoveries and people encountered on his solitary adventures. It's a must-have edition for the hordes of temple hunters out there. DatASIA have already brought us Cambodian Dancers, Earth In Flower and Angkor The Magnificent and this looks like another great addition to their growing stable of historical books.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

All's quiet

Life's a bit quiet at the mo. Hence a lack of blog posts. And its bloody hot. We put a spoof blog post on the Hanuman blog today just to spice things up. Along the lines of taking the famous bamboo train onto the roads once the new railway line kicks-in. It sounded funny when we thought of it. I'm off to Battambang for Khmer New Year which I'm really looking forward to. Haven't been there for ages and I have a soft spot for the place. This coming weekend I'm going to Siem Reap for a work party. That's all that needs to be said about that. And next week is the return of Game of Thrones to our screens, or the big screen at The Flicks in my case, since the bar-stewards took HBO off my tv.

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