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Siem Reap Scene...

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090514_06a.jpg

CKS BAGS DIPLOMAT'S BOOKS

The Centre for Khmer Studies is receiving a collection of roughly 800 books and government documents belonging to Leonard Overton, a US diplomat who worked in Saigon and Phnom Penh during the 1950s and '60s. The Overton collection is expected to arrive later this month and will contain official material from Cambodia's French colonial period.

The collection will be the latest addition to the centre's library, which director of operations Michael Sullivan says is the country's largest publicly accessible library outside of Phnom Penh. A new library building is under construction and is scheduled to open in December.  

 

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KYLE SHERER

The Blue Chilli Drag Revue

BENT BANANA BASH

The gay-friendly Golden Banana Resort launched last Saturday with a daylong party that began with a traditional Buddhist blessing and ended with a one-hour cabaret show by the Blue Chilli Drag Revue. The dancers hailed from the Blue Chilli club in Phnom Penh and performed to drag classics from Liza Minnelli and Dreamgirls.

General manager Dirk de Graaff said the Golden Banana Resort is aimed at independent travellers and hopes that by targeting a niche market the resort will more easily weather the global financial downturn.

De Graaff said the crowd reaction to the Blue Chilli Drag Revue was so positive he is considering turning the party into a regular feature on the Siem Reap social calendar.

The show was also a buildup to the five-day Cambodian Pride Festival in Phnom Penh this week.

ALLEY WEST TURNS TRENDY

The newest downtown sector in Siem Reap to turn trendy is Alley West, running off The Passage near Pub Street.

Until recently it's been a fairly drab, neglected strip but has become home to Elizabeth Kiester's Wanderlust fashion store, the innovative seafood restaurant Samot and the Sports Bar.

But now it's starting to buzz with the opening on the weekend of the ultra-smart Picasso wine and tapas bar. This is the latest venture by Thilo Krueger, proprietor of Tell Restaurant.

A neighbouring venture is the new Poetry store, co-owned by artists and designers Loven Ramos and Don Protasio.

This quirky store stocks jewellery, clothing and stuff best referred to as, well, stuff.  This includes designer sketch pads, poetry in a box and individually designed ceramics billed as "Urban stories of love and redemption on ceramics to bring out the Barbara Cartland in you".

This store harbours an obsession with tuk-tuks.They feature on the cover of the designer sketch pads, are part of a T-shirt line  and are emblazoned on hand-held fans.

Co-owner Protasio said raising the tuk-tuk to an art form is part of the store's philosophy of giving a different take on something Cambodian.

IRE OVER HOSPITAL FEES

The Angkor Hospital for Children is considering taking a controversial step and charging outpatients a US$2 fee, a source at the hospital said.

This measure has been brought about by a drop in donor revenue, which is afflicting many NGOs.

The hospital's director has reportedly sent a letter suggesting the introduction of fees to the board in the US, but many staff are resisting the move because they say part of the hospital's mandate is that it has from day 1 been a free hospital.

There is also a fear that fees will drive patients to Siem Reap's other free children's hospital, Kantha Bopha, and there is fierce, bitter rivalry between the two institutions.

Hospital sources also report that there is a move to make all hospital staff pay an obligatory "donation" from their monthly salary to help fund the hospital.

WINE AND FASHION FUNCTION

Geoffrey Whitty, owner of Fine Star Wines, organised another of his renowned Siem Reap community functions on Saturday night at the new Sojourn Boutique Villas complex, which is just far enough from Siem Reap's town centre to be considered in the country.

The night featured a fashion show by Eric Raisina, and several of the models were wives of hotel general managers in attendance.Raisina also showed video clips of his African fashion shows.

Wine tasting was another feature of the night, and some of the wines sampled were from The Winery of Good Hope  in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Good Hope's owner and winemaker, Alex Dale, also attended and gave a talk.

32-BUCK-PLUS BURGERS

Fancy a $32.50 plus tax hamburger? Raffles Grand Hotel is holding a hamburger promotion at its Cafe D'Angkor and Elephant Bar until May 31.

The Giant Texas 32-buck-plus burger is billed as the "largest burger in town", and at that price it ought to be. The main ingredient is 400 grams of ground wagyu beef.

Another budget-busting burger is the salmon teriyaki model, with cole slaw, pickles and chips at a mere $30.50 plus tax.

The cheapest item is the $10 "old fashioned hamburger".

Meanwhile, Cambodian BBQ and Banana Leaf are staging a "which one is which" game as part of a promotion called the Dhabu Amazing Race, organised by Exotissimo Travel.

The race kicked off Wednesday and will continue on Saturday with 10 teams of seven people competing. On the final day, Tuesday, 90 people will hopefully contest.

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