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German exhibit opens at national museum

The Angkor National Museum certainly came of age as a significant addition to Siem Reap's cultural life on Sunday night during the dignitary-packed opening of its new exhibition, "Angkor Conservation", which will run until February 28, 2009.    

The opening-night ceremony was one of the largest and most glamorous functions held in Siem Reap this year, and it was standing room only as all seating was taken early in the night. A swag of ambassadors was present, including the officiating German ambassador, Frank M Mann, and the French, Japanese and US ambassadors.

The exhibition, also supported by the German embassy, highlighted the work of the German Apsara Conservation Project and shows a chronological sequence of works in progress to conserve the bas-reliefs and stone works at the temples.

The project work in the temple precinct was undertaken by the Institute of Conservation Sciences of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and financed by the cultural preservation program of the German Federal Foreign Office.

According to the Angkor National Museum, "The objective of this exhibition is to make evident how much time, competence, empirical experience, craftsmanship and administrative effort, as well as how many motivated persons, are needed to conserve a centuries-old architectural piece of art."

The exhibition was originally shown under the name Angkor:  Sacred Heritage of Cambodia, in Berlin and Bonn in 2007-2008, and received much acclaim in the German media.

Baby 'lucky' to have surgery today

Peter Chhun, president and founder of US organisation Hearts Without Boundaries, reports that 11-month-old Vy Soksamnang, aka Lucky, the second Cambodian child to fly to the US in little over a year to have hole-in-the-heart surgery, will have his operation in Las Vegas today.

On Monday morning, Dr Bill Evans, a paediatric cardiologist at Children's Heart Center in Las Vegas, performed an echocardiogram on the boy and said, "Lucky is a good candidate for surgery. The hole in his heart should be a simple fix."

Later on Monday, Lucky and his entourage met Dr Ciccolo, the surgeon who will repair Lucky's heart.  Dr Ciccolo briefed the family on what to expect from the surgery. Dr Ciccolo said the life-altering surgery would take probably half an hour or more, depending on Lucky's condition. He also told the family that Lucky will have to survive briefly by heart and lung bypass machine.

So with no setbacks in the lead-up, the surgery takes place today, and if all goes as planned, Lucky should be up and crawling around within three to four days after the heart surgery.

2nd johnnIE walker tourney to Tee off

The golf action in Siem Reap is hotting up on all fronts, with the second Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open 2008 golf tournament set to tee off on Monday at the Sofitel Hotel-managed Phokeethra Country Club golf course.    

And shortly after the Open winds up on December 14, a new golf course - the third in Siem Reap - is set to soft-launch its opening nine holes, with another nine due to open early next year.

The Siem Reap Lake Resort Golf Club is on the Phnom Penh Road about 25 minutes out of town and is being developed by KTC Leisure Co Ltd, part of Korea's KTC company, which operates KTC Cable Co Ltd in Cambodia.

The new club, when it is fully operational with 18 holes and a club house, will affect business at both the Nick Faldo-designed Angkor Golf resort, owned by Indonesian casino tycoon Holic Tandijono, and Sofitel's Phokeethra Country Club, designed by Bangkok's Designer golf company.

Both existing golf courses are patronised by Korean players, and it is estimated that 80 percent of Phokeethra Country Club players are Korean.

Executives at both clubs fear that a Korean-owned golf course will be more attractive to Korean golfers.

Int'l franchises launch new outlets

Big-brand international companies continue to open outlets in Siem Reap. KFC is due to open its Siem Reap store shortly, and Friday sees the soft launch of a double-fronted, double-storey Adidas outlet in the newly-emerging Central Market business district.  

Adidas's first Cambodian store was opened in Phnom Penh in late January this year, and country development manager Emilie Mantion Philippe said Siem Reap was an obvious choice for a second store.

"It's a good opportunity and the right place for us to be because this is a big tourist centre," she said, "There are not many towns in Cambodia that provide us the opportunity to develop the brand."

The Adidas franchise for the Kingdom is licensed to Bonnie Blair Cambodia, a division of the Hong Kong-based Bonnie Blair company, whose Asia-Pacific CEO, Christophe Bezu, will be in Siem Reap for the launch.

Dog show to focus on better pet care

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Photo by: Peter olszewski

Isi Stitch at Pets 'n' Vets.

The second annual Angkor Fun Dog Show will be held at the Happy Ranch in Siem Reap on Sunday December 14 from 11am.

The dog show is organised by veterinarian Isi Stitch of Pets'n'Vets pet store, and the idea is to offer rewards to help motivate people to give their dogs more attention and care.

The show will feature five doggie competitions: a beauty contest, a dog race, an obstacle course, a dog and owner triathlon, and an obedience-for-beginners contest.

The entry fee per dog per contest is US$3, or $5 for late registration after December 10.

Every mutt entered receives a gift. The first six in each contest win a ribbon, and the best 30 percent in each contest also win a prize for dog and owner.

The dog voted "best in show" gets a trophy and a special prize.

Plastic kennels in the form of flight crates will be on hand for dogs to rest in, and a veterinarian will be present at all times in case of accidents.

'Singing tree' to host permaculture event

The two-week intensive course in Permaculture Design, organised by the Singing Tree Café, will start on Saturday at Wat Damnak. 

According to organisers, "Permaculture stands for Permanent Agriculture and is a well-sought discipline for sustainable development, providing real answers for some of the issues which acutely plague our lifestyle and aspirations." It does this by "re-inventing indigenous wisdom and natural patterns to create lush gardens and living eco-systems".

The Siem Reap course has community backing with support from businesses and institutions as varied as the Centre for Khmer Studies, the Soria Moria hotel and the Raja Yoga centre, with funding coming from Siem Reap expat residents and NGOs.  

The course will provide a platform for designing sample gardens at the pagoda and the Singing Tree to inform the wider public of the potential benefits of sustainable ecology.

Internationally renowned teacher Richard Zook is donating his time and skills and will be available after the course for free consultations with NGOs and private appointments on a case-by-case basis.

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