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Governor strikes a chord on trees

CROONING to his audience that “falling in love with Siem Reap can cure the pain of heartache”, Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin revealed his missed calling as a rock star last week when he belted out an impromptu version of Sin Sisamouth’s 1960s hit Champei Siem Reap in front of 500 people attending a tree planting ceremony.

Intended to mark the planting of 900 trees along National Road Six, the ceremony was instead transformed into an open-air concert, with Sou Phirin serenading attendees with his rendition of Sin Sisamouth’s classic love song about a boy who meets a girl and subsequently loses her.

Luckily the heartbreak is temporary, as the hero of the ballad moves to Siem Reap, where he finds solace in the arms of a new woman, and on the streets of his beloved new town. It was this theme that the governor hammered home, in a speech calling on citizens to work together to improve Siem Reap’s natural beauty.

“Living in Siem Reap province is like living in heaven; it’s like a magic medicine,” the governor decreed. “People can lead healthy and comfortable lives here because of our green environment.”

Adding that all citizens should “work together to make Siem Reap an eco-city”, Sou Phirin thanked automotive distributor RMA Cambodia for sponsoring the planting of the new trees, which will grow along National Road Six between Sivutha Boulevard and Siem Reap International Airport. He then called on Siem Reap’s youth to protect the city’s green belts.

The importance of maintaining Siem Reap’s image as a clean and green tourist destination was also emphasised by RMA Cambodia country manager Rami Sharaf, who told attendees that the 900 trees planted along the highway will be among the first things visitors see when entering the city.

“Siem Reap is the destination that people all over the whole world come to in order to visit one of the wonders of the world, Angkor Wat,” Rami Sharaf said, “and National Road Six is the main road where tourists, as well as Cambodians, begin their journey in Siem Reap. We planted the trees in order to entice tourists to come back again after they have visited the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

The craze for greenery has also spread to the city’s hotels, according to Emmett McHenry, Sokha Angkor Resort’s green-fingered general manager, who spearheaded an effort to plant 500 trees north of Mebon Temple earlier this month.

McHenry told 7Days the initiative started last year with the planting of 1,000 Chheur Geal and Beng trees along Angkor Bridge, and is part of the hotel’s annual “Green Day”, which is promoted with the slogan: “If we can give, so can you”.

“We started last year, and because we are a green hotel we’re doing everything we can to enhance the environment,” McHenry said. “We give away our used cooking oil. Our kitchen waste we give to farmers for the pigs, and we have our own compost heap and energy saving program. Planting trees only takes a half-day of effort.”

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