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Slices of Siem Reap

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T he tourism high season approaches, the floods recede and the silly season finally feels like it might be coming to an end some time soon. English teachers drift bleary-eyed away from bars and back to work while owners wonder who's going to keep them in shoes till tourists arrive en masse.

In preparation Siem Reap will see a flurry of bar openings over the coming months. Work is starting on the yet-unnamed bar that will be taking over the Boom Boom Room's premises opposite Psar Chas. Not to worry, their selection of western clothing and compilation CDs from a dollar will still be available from their new premises upstairs.

First of the new bars off the mark was the impromptu opening of the Funky Munky. Blue, Barang and by the river, the Funky Munky's owners Mac, Trixie and Ian had wandered the town and decided they wanted to do something "different" and quickly settled on strictly no references to temples or Apsaras.

The few raised eyebrows, mainly from female clientele, at the imported industrial sculptures of movie monsters Alien and Predator soon settled as drinks went down. A friends-only soft opening quickly turned into a full house. Mac waxed at length over his pedantry in the kitchen and Trixie made sure no one's glasses remained empty for more than a few seconds. A great night passed with the only complaint coming from some of the uglier punters who whinged that the lights were too bright. The following Sunday saw Mac assault the stomachs of the gathered expats with pork and gravy, winning over even the most jaded of Siem Reap's long-term Western residents.

So with the opening of the Funky Munky and the mysterious demolition of the snooker club, the riverside, with its natural appeal, is looking like Siem Reap's up-and-coming location.

Meanwhile, back on Bar Street, the overdue and much-talked-about Temple Touch Spa and Club signed up its Western DJs and installed a sound system capable of drowning out the most enthusiastic of Khmer funerals. The Lee brothers pushed flyers into even the most reluctant of palms and crammed wallets with Temple Club "name cards". Invited locals, expats and Phnom Penh friends kicked off the party and drunken revellers ranted till dawn.

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