THOSE in the fast-buck business shouldn't miss out on the opportunities in East Timor. With the UN gearing up a massive effort there, the word is out that quick profits are more available than leaves falling off trees.
If you decide to visit Dili, the most reasonable acommodation can now be found for only $100 per night. One Mr Franklin will get you a luxurious third of a shipping container with a cot, plastic chair, writing table and air-conditioning. Baths are communal. No windows and no cable TV yet. Cold beers are five bucks a can.
** Contrary to popular belief, the crack team that hijacked the fast boat to Siem Reap and robbed all the passengers were not disgruntled soldiers. They were third-year Hospitality Industry majors at one of the English-language schools in Phnom Penh. Police sources say the ringleader, who is still at large, was the best student in his class.
** It's that time of year again when the Fire Department goes around with a letter requesting donations of a case of beer to help the lads celebrate Khmer New Year. One Western business politely declined the request, explaining that as Christians they were prohibited by religious decree from giving alcohol to on-duty civil servants. The firemen said they understood completely.
** A fairly large freighter flying the Laotian flag pulled into Phnom Penh port on the night of April 11. How do you figure that?
** The donors are all gearing up for the big CG meeting in Paris in May. With another near-half billion bucks hinging on the Kingdom's progress on making reforms, a source at the Ministry of Finance says that the mood among the big players is ebullient:
"The ADB is happy, the IMF is happy, the World Bank is happy, the Japanese are happy, even the Minister is excited."
** If you're worried about getting struck by lightening, local folklore has it that you'll be safe if you carry a small bottle of "white" alcohol with you in your pocket.
** The owner of the Pink Elephant Bar, Dave Pain, 44, passed away in the early hours of April 6. May he rest in peace.
One of his friends described him as "A quiet man who never interrupted. He had no pretensions, he was a nice guy from Leeds."
Dave, who spent 20 years working for Unilever in the UK before taking early retirement, had told several friends that Cambodia "is my final place".
Be well, Dave.