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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Angkor What Bar’s bedpan beer jugs shock Khmer punters

Angkor What Bar’s bedpan beer jugs shock Khmer punters

tourists buckets beer
Tourists enjoy their buckets of beer, despite the allegedly dodgy origins of the containers. Photograph: Seth Kimseoun/Phnom Penh Post

An unusual story about the culturally questionable nature of the beer buckets used at Angkor What? Bar appeared last week in the Khmer-language edition of the Phnom Penh Post.

The story was linked to the presence in town of two Khmer pop stars, Pich Sophea, a female singer and Zono, a male singer, from the Hang Meas production stable.

Both pop stars arrived in Siem Reap on April 25 to shoot music videos, and the Khmer-language story featured a photo of the famous duo drinking from an infamous Angkor What? beer bucket.  Khmer reporter Seth Kimseoun likened the beer buckets to those the Khmer use to contain human faeces and urine, similar in a sense to bed pans.

{japopup type="image" content="images/stories/news/national/2013/130503/sr/tourists_buckets_beer.jpg" title="Pop stars Zono and Pich Sophea sip booze from the questionable bucket. Photo Supplied"}

{/japopup}
Reference to this story on expat Facebook pages created considerable mirth. Here is the translated version of Seth Kimseoun’s controversial story:

“A kanthor or bucket is a Khmer container used for waste such as feces and urine.  But it should cause surprise and wonder to know that a bar in Siem Reap uses such a bucket for customers to drink cold beer through straws.

A fun night under the colorful lights accompanied by music pounding in Pub Street, Siem Reap, was had by a group of [Khmer] visitors who could see different views from each of the restaurants. But when the group walked through the street they stopped at a restaurant called Angkor What? Bar, wondering why the clientele used kanthors or buckets to drink alcohol?

After wondering about seeing such a strange thing, they burst into explosive laugher over the fact that people were drinking beer from buckets that are used for urine. They questioned, “Do they not feel nauseated when they use the buckets to drink beer?”

Although the group felt uncomfortable for a moment, they also understood that it is part of the art of attracting customers, and that the owners use the buckets for a different style, to create a different feeling for tourists when they came to the Kingdom of Wonder.

Jacob Westley, a foreign tourist who is on a three-month trip, likes to sit in the Angkor What? Bar with other friends and drink beer from this bucket.

He said was surprised because he did not know the story of this kanthor or bucket and how Khmer people use it.  But he knows that the buckets are different from other bars and he likes this creativity.

“I do not know they use it to collect waste,” he said. “But it is unique for me because we normally use a glass to drink beer.  Hearing the history of this bucket just now, I don’t feel uncomfortable because it’s clean before they put it out for guests to use.”

Another patron at the bar, Ms Henry, said she knew the use of this kanthor for the collection of faeces or urine, because her Cambodian friends had also told her about this. But she thinks that in her life she should try different things and different tastes.

“My Cambodian friend said he was also surprised when he learned that I use the bucket for beer like this,” she said. “He told me about the way that Cambodians use the bucket. But I'm not surprised and I think using it for beer is the art of the owner.  I believe that they do not serve used buckets. Surely they use new ones?’ ”

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