Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Temple families resist relocation

And so it continues as I thought it would. The villagers don't want to move, but it doesn't matter because the authority goes above and beyond provincial authority. They will more than likely be evicted with little to no compensation (just like in Phnom Penh), all in the name of cultural heritage. This should not be allowed, but it happens because the dollar is perhaps considered more important to the officials than even the welfare and livelihood of their own people.

Today also happens to be the day that my in-laws are meeting with the Apsara Authority (see What's the Apsara's Authority? from July 2009)to seek approval to rebuild their house which was blown down last week in a storm. The previous request last week brought out a truck full of officials with weapons to threaten the family with eviction if they attempted any "new" repairs on the house.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

A woman cooks outside her home in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district in February. Her home is one of hundreds that have been marked for removal.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

By Rann Reuy

MORE than 250 families in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district yesterday rebuffed entreaties from officials to relocate to make way for UNESCO and Preah Vihear National Authority offices.

A notice from the authority dated October 18 said 70 families from Kantuot commune’s Svay Chrum village would need to move by Saturday, with the remaining families expected to clear out not long after.

The families have been offered 2 million riels (US$475) in compensation as well as 50-by-100-metre plots of land in Thamacheat Samdech Techo Village (Samdech Techo Nature Village). The same village has taken in hundreds of other families that have been moved to make way for development at Preah Vihear temple, which was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

Residents said yesterday that they had been living on their land since 2000, and that they had previously been promised by local officials that they would never be evicted.

“Samdech Techo village has no market. It is far, it has a dirty road, and the land is small,” said 45-year-old Sao Yat.

Another resident, 43-year-old Keo Nith, said she did not want to part with her 5 hectares of rice fields, which she described as productive.

“They might control this area,” she said of the PVNA and UNESCO officials, “but we are asking to live here.”

Provincial officials yesterday visited the site and attempted to negotiate with the residents, who responded by saying they would not move. Long Sovann, the deputy provincial governor, said the decision to kick them out had come from higher than the provincial level.

“This is the national principle. It is not the provincial decision,” he said.

He then referred further questions to PVNA General Director Hang Soth, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Preah Vihear: Families told to make way for UNESCO

Somehow I'm not entirely convinced that making room for a UNESCO office will be the end of enroachment on this village's land. Only $475 and a small plot of land in exchange for their homes? Even in Cambodia that amount isn't enough build a new home. UNESCO should be more proactive and actually build homes for these people rather than just pay them off. If the villagers protest they will most likely end up with nothing. So sad...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010
By Thet Sambath

A GROUP of 275 families in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district have been instructed to relocate by Saturday to make room for offices for the Preah Vihear National Authority and UNESCO, officials said.

Mol Mab, the chief of Choam Ksan’s Kantuot commune, said fewer than 1,000 hectares of land would be cleared, and that affected families would be given 2 million riels (US$475) each as well as 50-by-100-metre plots of land in Thamacheat Samdech Techo Village (Samdech Techo Nature Village). The same village has taken in hundreds of other families that have been moved to make way for development at Preah Vihear temple, which was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

Prak Sarann, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, expressed concern that the famlies would no longer have any farmland. But provincial deputy governor Sor Thavy said the families were only required to move their homes and would continue to have access to their existing farmland.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Statistics needed for good planning

When most people hear the word statistics they might moan. I usually do, too. But proper data collection allows for more accurate statistical analysis. All of which add up to more well-informed public policies. I didn't spend 2 years in a public policy master's program for nothin'!

So it is no surprise to me that the country director of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency said “Statistics have to be correct, unbiased and reliable.” Well, duh! I guess Cambodia's embarking on this quest. Good luck.

Thursday, 21 October 2010
By Rann Reuy

THE Kingdom’s first enterprise census, slated for 2010, will provide crucial information to develop effective national policies, according to Minister of Planning Chhan Thorn.

The survey is to be conducted from March 1 to 30 next year, but the exercise will only be productive if the results are put to good use, he said yesterday at a workshop marking Cambodia’s participation in the first World Statistics Day.

Funded largely by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the census aimed to gather concrete business-related information to help foreign investment and organise national-level business strategy, ministry officials have said.

Eva Asplund, country director of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency said statistics were important in assisting the private sector in business decisions, as well as for researchers, academics and legislators to have firm foundations to develop public policy.

“Statistics have to be correct, unbiased and reliable,” she said at the workshop yesterday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eating with your heart

I used to be the English language teacher at the other hospitality training school in town. But I must admit, Sala Bai is a much better deal for students as they don't have to pay anything to attend such a fine hospitality training institution. They benefit by the hands-on experience of working in some of the best hotels and restaurants in town.

Friday, 15 October 2010
Nicky McGavin

It’s not so much about eating your heart out, as eating with your heart, with hospitality training school Sala Baï’s training restaurant opening its doors to the public on Monday.

The restaurant serves set menu options as well as à la carte, and its dishes are derived from both Asian and Western influences.

From the set menus, the first week’s items include Tonle Sap fish with pineapple and jasmine rice, and beef on lemongrass skewers with pepper dip and jasmine rice.

For more Western appetites, there is pan-fried Tonle Sap fish with lemon butter sauce, and spaghetti with chicken and asparagus.

Starters include spring rolls, grilled vegetables in a mixed green salad and tomato soup with cheese ravioli.

Emmanuelle Dethomas, the Sala Baï marketing and communications manager, promises many forthcoming gastronomic treats. “Our chefs are coming up with some wonderful new ideas for the year ahead,” he said.

Read more about Sala Bai here or at their website.

Angkor Wat under threat

This is no surprise to me and many other "foreigners" in the tourism trade. With the government's goal of increasing tourism numbers, it would naturally follow that the famous temple ruins will eventually be ruined by the increase in numbers.

Photo by onlyincambodia

Sunday, 17 October 2010
By Keeley Smith

An international heritage conservancy has warned that the Angkor Wat temple complex faces “critical” threats in the form of heavy traffic and inefficient conservation techniques.

A report released by the Global Heritage Fund also said the fact that many tourism-related businesses were foreign-owned made it difficult for Siem Reap residents to benefit economically from the temples.

“Hundreds of thousands of visitors climb over the ruins of Angkor every year causing heavy deterioration of original Khmer stonework,” says the report, which is titled “Saving Our Heritage: Safeguarding Cultural Sites Around the World”.

According to the report, the number of visitors to Angkor Wat has increased by 188 percent since 2000, from 840,000 to 2,420,000 in 2009.

An Apsara Authority official said last week that Angkor Wat had seen a 24-percent increase in foreign tourists in the first nine months of 2010 compared with the same period last year.

“Mass tourism is overrunning the fragile archaeology site, with millions every year climbing unabated on the monuments,” said GHF Executive Director Jeff Morgan.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Love Your Blog!

Swap-bot swap: I ♥ Your Blog!
I swap with Swap-bot!

I'm a member of an online group called Swap-Bot where you can sign up to "swap" things. Mostly it's stuff you send in the mail like letters & postcards, but occasionally there are e-swaps.

I am participating in one right now called "I 'heart' Your Blog!" I will be reviewing 7 blogs from my partners and sharing them with you. Since the swap's instructions were very vague and confusing, I'm actually review all 14 of the blogs for both my receiving and sending partners.

The first set are my send-to partners who are supposed to be rating me on my review and including a link back to their blog. The second set are those who I'm supposed to be rating.


Blog #1: Santity's Overrated

By PsceanMama from Tennessee

According to the author, her blog features, "A little of this, a little of that, from a half-crazed stay-at-home mom of two boys." It's entertaining to read about a variety of things are are interesting to her. I've got to admit, the background of books is perfect for her most recent post about reading & watching The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Blog #2: Memories Through Quilting

By AlteredArtFreak from Oklahoma

Memories Through Quilting

This blog features her quilting creations. Oh how I wish I could quilt, too! I must say that the background is incredible for this blog. So amazing!

Blog #3: El Blog de Jex

By Jex from Mexico

I love that Jex provides tutorials and links about crafty things beyond just shooting the breeze. It's a helpful and fun site. I especially like all of her links for "pimping your blog." I think I'll be visiting a few of those links in the near future...

Blog #4: Rachel's World

By scrapkween from Texas

Create your own banner at!

I love how she talks through some of the challenges in her family's life as well as the triumphs. Her description of homeschooling her children is refreshing and honest. There are many little tidbits to take away from this special blog.

Blog #5: The Sweet Maple Life

By SilverHealer currently residing in Virginia, but trying to permanently reside in Canada

It's sweet to see how she features her different creations. I am always impressed by the creativity of others. I like how she signs each blog entry with her name. So classy. And I can definitely relate to how she feels about Canada. It just feels like home, which is the same way I felt about the first time I was in Cambodia.

Blog #6: Miss Muff Cake

By missmuffcake from California

"Veganism and crafting from a not so big city perspective." Skulls, skulls and more skulls. While personally not a fan of skull images, they are certainly more popular today by a adding a more whimsical look to them. I really love her "Peanut Butter Plan" as it reminds me of the Friday nights I spent handing out brown bag lunches to the folks living on the streets of downtown Santa Cruz. Very courageous, yet so inventive! You go, girl!

Blog #7: What Oh What!

By ilovetubby from Oklahoma

Powered by

Such an adorable tutorial on the homemade, no-sew pincushion. Also, her step by step photos of her craft projects are really helpful. I already know how to redo the seat cushion in a chair (Thanks Dad!), but I'm sure there are lots of folks who appreciate this helpful how-to. She also has a great selection of craft links that looks very promising.


Here are the ones that I am rating about their review of my blog.

Blog #1: Keeping up with the Joneses

By ksj1717

Such a variety of different topics presented on this blog. It's fun to go from crafts to the home garden within a couple of posts. I look forward to reading what comes next in her life.

Blog #2: Random Adventures by Hippofairy

By hippofairy from California

Random adventures sums up this blog fairly accurately. Though the statistician in me would disagree with the random part because adventures that are planned wouldn't technically qualify as random. I digress... It is entertaining to read her narration of the events and see the pictures of some of her creations. I would definitely follow this blog.

Blog #3: CF

By cfchai of Singapore

A cute little blog that reminds me a of a personal diary/calendar, but with a little bit more details for certain dates.

Blog #4: Hedgehog and Rabbit

By Brooklyne

Brooklyne's blog features mostly the results of her Etsy shop as it is promoted in various treasuries by other Etsy folk. The design is adorable and references to her family members is cute, too. Now I'm curious to check out her Etsy shop to see what handcrafted items are there. Her shop features handmade wallets, brooches and embroidery doodles.

Blog #5: Butt Naked Woman's Little Room of Crafty Wonders

By myeow from Singapore

It's always fun to have a window into another part of the world. Myeow does this well by showcasing the craftier side of Singapore in her blog. I'll make sure I connect with her before I next head off to Singapore. Her crafty creations are so sweet, too!

Blog #6: Riechanster

By Riechan from Belgium

A very lovely blog detailing her adventures in shopping and other activities in Belgium. The pictures are always a great addition to help the readers relate what she writes about.

Blog #7: Rock n' Roll Stops the Traffic

By Lima from Italy

Create your own banner at!

This blog features a lot swaps that she's participated in, as well as some of the various events in her life. It's fun to read about her new crafting experiences and see the results.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Floods continue to cause chaos

The late rains this year are reminiscent of last year's floods in mid-September. Lots of water and streets that turn into rivers. I am glad I am not there to experience this.

You know, in the four years that I lived there from 2003-2007, I never experienced such dramatic flooding. But, I suppose that doesn't mean it never happens. After all, I do come from earthquake country where we don't get huge earthquakes every year. Nor do we get heavy winters except every 10 years or so.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010
By Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Continuing rough weather has been blamed for the deaths of two people in Kampong Speu province, and more than 20 fishermen were said to have gone missing off the coast of Koh Kong province as a result of storms that have caused flooding nationwide.

Van Sokha, secretary to the Kampong Speu provincial governor, said two men were killed by electric shocks generated by a power line that was downed by strong winds.

The weather “had caused many factories and markets to shut” in the province and affected an untold number of hectares of rice crops, he said.

In Koh Kong, Thuon Chem, a fishing community representative in Kiri Sakor district, said at least 20 fishermen had been reported missing since the storms began on Sunday, but that she was hopeful they would be found.

“We are still searching for the boats and fishermen who were lost during the storm and heavy rains,” she said. “We think they are all OK, and we wish them all good luck.”

Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth said Dangkor appeared to be the worst-affected district, with the homes of 1,475 families from 16 villages sustaining “severe” damage.

At the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which is located in Dangkor district, flooding forced officials to relocate the five Khmer Rouge leaders currently in custody, said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the press.

Keo Vy, director of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said yesterday that the floods had hit most districts in seven provinces outside Phnom Penh: Kampot, Kampong Speu, Kandal, Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk

According to a statement issued Monday by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, low atmospheric pressure is expected to see flooding continue through today in all lowland areas – including Phnom Penh – as well as in Kampong Speu, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I'm being followed...

Actually, through a Google search of this very blog with a friend over the weekend, I discovered that Cambopedia wrote a blog post featuring yours truly!

I'm mean, come on, couldn't they have at least told me about it first?

Regardless, my ego's been satisfactorily stroked to know that I'm considered "another interesting blog to read." Well, ok.

So, keep reading. I promise I'll remain interesting, if not more...

Monday, October 04, 2010

DC Walk to Stop Modern Slavery

My friend Matt started his first year of law school at Georgetown in Washington D.C. He's keeping a blog. But even more than that he's getting involved in local events. One of those events is this DC Walk to Stop Modern Slavery (i.e. human trafficking).

It will be the largest anti-human trafficking event in DC history! This event is organized entirely by community volunteers. No one on the organizing team is paid. 100% of money raised will go to organizations that combat human trafficking and care for victims.

Go to the Get Involved section on the left side of the home page and Sponsor a Walker, namely, my friend Matt Boutte. Just enter his name and it will take you through the process of donating. Easy peasy!

You can read about it in his own words on his blog, Matt's Adventures.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Memories are made of this

After reading this article, it reminds me of why I keep returning to Cambodia. I've always described to people that I knew I needed to return here after visiting in early 2003 because it always felt like I left home and needed to return. It's like the song "I left my heart in San Francisco" except I left mine in Cambodia.

Steve Levitt with a girl with no hands in Siem Reap, 1990.
Friday, 01 October 2010
Steve Levitt

I AM planning my return to Siem Reap from my small home in Canberra, Australia, rifling through my old passports as an aid to a failing memory. The passports tell me that I have been coming to Cambodia regularly for just over 20 years.

First I came for adventure and stories as a photojournalist. Then as a communications officer with a global aid agency. Then as an uncle with a favoured niece. Now I’ll return as a father with his eldest son.

No other country appears so often in my packed passports, and no place other than Siem Reap has such a hold to keep drawing me back.

Perhaps it is because Cambodia, more than any other country, is never the same place twice, and because Siem Reap seems to change by the minute.

Read the rest of the article here.

Drink driving blitz

Now here's an interesting article. I never thought that Cambodian police would ever begin do drunk driving checkpoints. Does this mean they'll check themselves, too? Another step forward, especially considering the increasing number of traffic incidents and deaths on the roadways.

Sunday, 03 October 2010
By Mom Kunthear

Municipal traffic police established nighttime drunken-driving checkpoints in all eight districts of the capital over the weekend, stopping nearly 100 drivers and fining four of them.

Chev Hak, deputy chief of the municipal traffic police, said the checkpoints had operated between 6.30pm and 11pm in Phnom Penh on both Friday and Saturday nights.

National Police Chief Neth Savoeun had originally called for the checkpoints to be set up on September 1 in Phnom Penh and also in Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces.

But the plan was pushed back one month so police could receive training on how to man checkpoints and operate breath analysers.

Chev Hak said the breath analysers had not yet been delivered to the two provinces, and that he suspected checkpoints would be established in both shortly after the Pchum Ben holiday.