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Man About Town

It’s construction time in Siem Reap, with work at the Centre for Khmer Studies’ new library rapidly approaching the finish mark. An opening ceremony, to be presided over by the king, is scheduled for early January.
Meanwhile, the irrepressible US-based Ronnie Yimsut is pressing ahead with his ambitious project to build the Bakong Ecotourism Technical College (BTC), an 11-hectare campus at the northern end of Tonle Sap Lake.

Yimsut, billed in America by the Rotary organisation as “a killing fields refugee, plucked from a refugee camp by Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes” will be leading 25 Canadian and American Rotarian volunteers as part of a “sweat equity” mission.

Construction of the first two college buildings out of seven will begin with an opening ground-breaking ceremony scheduled for Monday November 16.

Yimsut said: “The local team is planning something big all day on Monday, including field trips to our various projects. We expect a number of VIPs at the BTC site in Bakong district on Monday.”

Siem Reap’s cultural guru Darryl Collins is raising a sweat in the midst of a deconstruction phase. Along with architect colleague Hok Sokol, he’s saving yet another historic Khmer home.

The house, in Kralanh, 60 kilometres from Siem Reap on the road to Sisophon, is believed to be more than 100 years old and could be one of just two houses remaining in Cambodia of the Pheah Keint style of architecture.

The house was being pulled down last week, and will be rebuilt on land in Siem Reap which is already home to another of the duo’s significant saved houses.

Colourful character Les Stott, marathon endurance bike rider and chief executive of Siem Reap orphanage NGO Kampuchea House, has thrown in the towel.

Stott founded Kampuchea House in June 2007 as a result of wanting to “live his dream”. But that dream has soured and, in a shock move, Stott resigned on October 31.

Kampuchea House committee secretary Belinda Lightfoot has been in Siem Reap to oversee the changeover. She returns to Australia on Saturday, leaving the NGO to be run by its local director, Son Sokhoeun.



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