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Siem Reap Scene...


Dignitaries turn out for school opening

New classrooms at the Wat Mon Thyean Primary School in Kok Russey Kang Cherng village, Dan Run commune, Sautr Nikom district, 35 kilometres from Siem Reap, were officially opened last Friday.    

About 300 people attended the opening ceremony, and dignitaries present included the Sautr Nikom district governor, Dan Run commune chief, director of Sautr Nikom district's Education Office, Wat Mon Thyean monks, the Kok Russey Kang Cherng village chief and the Kok Russey Kang Cherng assistant village chief.

Wat Mon Thyean was  an "incomplete" primary school, and only offered grades 1-4 in two run-down wooden classrooms.  Students had to travel three to four kilometres along high-traffic roads for grades five and six, and therefore some kids didn't complete primary school.

Classes have started in the new classrooms, and the school now welcomes students from kindergarten to grade five. Children will be able to move into grade six next year.  

The school has been growing rapidly. Last year, 135 students attended classes, and this year's enrolment was 190 students, a 41 percent increase.

The project is an initiative of Schools for Children of Cambodia (SCC), a British-registered charity established in 2003.

Work commenced on June 30, with contractor PHV Construction Co Ltd and at a cost of $61,000. Funding was provided by Kok Russey Kang

Cherng community members and SCC's international and private donors.

A Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport contribution provided teachers for the school's additional grades.


Photo by:
Erica Goldberg

La Paix gallery curator Don Protasio.

'Flower' exhibition to open next week

A new exhibition "Flowers", featuring the work of Thav Savann, will be launched at Hotel de la Paix next Thursday, December 4, at 6:30pm.

Siem Reap's celebrity fashion designer Eric Raisina and Hotel de la Paix's art curator Don Protasio will also stage a fashion show of their designs to accompany the opening night of "Flowers".

Protasio said Thav Savann's work, which consists of impressionistic acrylic paintings on large canvasses, was chosen because "we wanted to choose something festive to fit the holidays.

"Savann uses dabs of paint to look like melted flowers. Not a lot of Cambodians are doing this kind of work."

Protasio said most Cambodian artists use a lot of detail, and their art depicts a somewhat dark nature. "Asian art tends to come from a more emotional and psychological side, instead of taking an intellectual approach," he said.

But Thav Savann was trained in Paris, so Protasio classifies his work as having a "French vibe".  "He likes to explore colours and light. When Cambodians leave the country, their art becomes freer," Protasio said. He added that the theme that ties the artwork and the fashion show together is a celebration of nature.

Back to business at Prince d'angkor

Following last week's announcement about the rapid departure of Australian Ken Williams, the short-lived general manager at the four-star Prince d'Angkor Hotel & Spa, the busy hotel's executive director, Ly Seang Hong, said it's back to business as usual.

"While we regret losing another foreign manager, we've already found an international standard general manager to meet our clients' expectations."

Ly Seang Hong said Williams' stay was slightly longer than reported last week, saying he was contracted to start on October 9 and, therefore, was officially with the hotel for a little more than a month rather than a little more than a week.

He gave additional reasons for Williams' departure, and contested Williams' claims of dissatisfaction with having to work with live-in hotel owners.

"As a family-owned business, residing at the hotel is not uncommon and, like corporate operations, approval of major changes, decisions and disbursements passes through the executive board. In the end, it is us, the owners, who are on the losing end if decisions are made without our knowledge or approval."

Meanwhile, news is filtering through the Siem Reap hospitality sector of another sudden general manager resignation, this time of a large five-star hotel.

'Get Frocked' event in its second year

Deborah Saunders, award-winning Australian catering chef and proprietor of the River Garden Guesthouse, will host her second annual Get Frocked function on Saturday, starting at 6:30pm.

Last year, the inaugural event was a ladies-only night, but sexism has been conquered and guys are welcome this year "to benefit the minds and spirits of friends and cohabitants of Siem Reap".

Admission is $20 per head for cocktails and a poolside dinner, and entertainment will include a fashion show staged by the Wanderlust store with clothing modelled "by various lovelies from the Siem Reap expat community".

A Cooks in Tuk Tuks tour is also on offer as a prize during the evening.


baby ‘lucky' set for heart surgery in us

Peter Chhun, president and founder of US-based Hearts Without Boundaries, reports that an operating schedule has been drawn up for 11-month-old Vy Soksamnang, the second Cambodian child to fly to the US in little more than a year to have hole-in-the-heart surgery.

Chhun said the boy, who arrived in the US on November 16, will now travel to the Children's Heart Center in Las Vegas on Sunday. 

"On Monday, December 1, he will undergo a battery of tests, with surgery on possibly Thursday December 4," Chhun said.

"If all goes well after surgery, Lucky will probably be in the hospital three to four days, then have a follow-up visit with the doctor about three days after being released from the hospital, and then maybe another appointment one week after the first follow up."

It is expected that the boy and his mother will stay in Las Vegas for about a fortnight after the operation and should then be able to spend Christmas with family and friends in Long Beach, California, before preparing for the return to Cambodia, still scheduled for early February.

resort website touts responsible tourism

Angkor Palace Resort & Spa in Siem Reap has launched a website promoting responsible tourism at Angkor Wat. The site has introduced a "new communities connection program to proactively involve guests in a campaign to minimise the negative economic, environmental and social impacts of tourism".

Weng Aow, general manager of the five-star resort, said the Angkor temples, only minutes from the hotel, "attract thousands of tourists a day but struggle to contain the impact of littering."

Weng Aow also said the hotel is providing a space free of charge for worthy NGOs to hold exhibitions.

Earlier this month the hotel hosted a World Responsible Tourism Day function, which was like a trade fair for NGOs, with about 10 stalls promoting goods and services provided by Siem Reap organisations.

This function also hosted the launch of ConCERT, setup by Aardvark Fieldfare director Michael Horton, to create a centralised NGO information platform for hotels and businesses.


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