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Man About Town

The River Garden in front of Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor will be alive this Sunday with all things Japanese. From 5pm to 8.30pm the gardens will be host to the Japanese Dance Festival, which in Japan is called Bon Odori.

Odori means dancing, and Bon is one of the most important Japanese traditions – people believe that their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Bon.

Much like Cambodia’s Pchum Ben, it’s an important time for families to gather, and in Japan many people return to their hometowns.

A Bon dance accompanies the ceremonies and dance styles vary from area to area, but usually Japanese taiko drums keep the rhythms.

Visitors to Sunday’s bash in Siem Reap are invited to join in the Bon dance by joining the circle and imitating the experts.

To get the mood pumping, a traditional taiko drums team will come from Phnom Penh, plus there will be food, drink and games stands, and special performances. Admission is free.

The festival is held by the Angkor Japanese Association, which was established in 2008.

Pop-up art galleries are popping up all over Siem Reap as part of an alternate art movement, propelled by the super energetic Loven Ramos and his 1961 Hotel cum art gallery. The latest pop-up gallery to open, Blank Space, launched last week in Hung Taup Street, opposite Common Grounds Café.

Blank Spaces has filled its wall with original new artwork by Kat Eng, an American-Khmer artist, Misterhubs from the Philippines, the Siem Reader Collective, the startlingly talented Danielle Bain from Australia, and Battambang artists Bo Rithy, Cheat Sambath, and Pen Robit.

While all the art is interesting, it's worth making a trip just to view the works of Danielle Bain.

Hotel de la Paix, soon to become Hyattised, continues to be the leader of the pack when it comes to doing good. Last Sunday, $19,700 was handed over to About Asia Schools as a result the "HdlPaix Uniforms" project.

Other activities by the hotel in 2011 include $5,200 handed out to the Green Gecko centre for Street Children on the 11/11/11 fundraiser, and the Dengue Fever concert at the hotel, which raised about $1,800 each for both Cambodia Living Art and Green Gecko.

Together with three other hotels and Exotissimo, 7,000 Khmer were given food for a week (or so). The hotel Share your Shirt 2011 program has had about 1.5 tons of clothes donated. The hotel has also become a drop-off point for plastic water bottles for the HUSK initiative to build a school. The hotel also opened its own brand new school at Wat Damnak at a cost of $50,000.

And oh yes, the hotel also donated 2.6 tons of rice during the flood.



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