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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Siem Reap Scene: 7 May 2009

Siem Reap Scene: 7 May 2009

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PETER OLSZEWSKI

Chea Chenny, aka Miss Fish

FISH DOWN UNDER

Siem Reap's Khmer entertainment celebrity, singer and comedienne Miss Fish, aka Kantrop, has returned triumphant from an Australian singing engagement and is now back in business performing weddings or parties.

Fish, whose real name is Chea Chenny, flew to Australia on March 20 for a monthlong paid singing stint initiated and funded by the Victorian Buddhist Association, after being recommended by a singer who had previously performed in Australia.

The 25-year-old travelled with two other singers from Phnom Penh and three Buddhist monks.

The main purpose of her visit was to sing at the Springvale Pagoda in Melbourne during the Khmer New Year.

She also sang at concerts organised in Melbourne and Sydney, and upon her return said the only downside to the trip was that she never actually got to see a kangaroo.

SNAPS SNAPPED UP

A photography exhibition at the Old Market McDermott Gallery showing Siem Reap through the eyes of students from NGO Global Child has raised more than US$500 in a silent auction.

All but one of the 20 prints on auction sold, with bids officially closing on Friday.

Siem Reap students were selected to take part in a 10-week photography course led by Global Child volunteer Robbie Flick, and 20 of the best photos were exhibited.

Flick started working with the Global Child school last year, and began his camera class when he realised how interested the kids were in photography.

He said, "A lot of the kids are used to taking photos with cameras borrowed from friends, but they mainly use it for fun. I wanted to see my passion for photography blossom in other kids."

Hopefully his legacy will linger and kick-start a generation of hot new photographers because this medium is under-represented in Cambodia.

Organisers of last year's Angkor Photo Festival lamented the lack of Cambodian representation, and the coordinator of the programming committee, Francoise Callier, said, "We were really disappointed that no Cambodians submitted pictures".

SUPER CLEAN SOK SAN

After bringing in the decorators and taking out the dirty dancers, Sok San Palace is officially cleaned up and back in business.

Tomorrow night is expected to be the official launch of the bar's new life as a trendy late-night expat club. Guest performer DJ Deb is in from the UK, and a buy one, get one free offer is on at the bar.

Sok San's rapid retreat from the risque was masterminded by the same person responsible for moulding the club's racy image in the first place.

Thomas Seng is a business development consultant and a human weathervane whose ability to read the wind may have saved the club from the crackdown on houses of ill repute.

"The go-go shape Sok San took was done by me," said Seng. "And two years ago, it was a good job. We did something right for the time. But you have a tornado coming, people pointing fingers.

"So OK, we'll change it and do something everybody likes."  

Seng said he based the new look on the Equinox club in Phnom Penh.

"Equinox is successful every night. People say business is down. He says business is up. Expats go there."

MAIZE-LED FOOD SECURITY

A group of 25 ASEAN delegates met in the Apsara Angkor Hotel last week to discuss regional food security and Cambodia's role in agricultural research.

The fourth ASEAN Technical Working Group on Agricultural Research and Development meeting ran from April 28 to April 30, and Malaysian chairman Sharif Haron said that Cambodia's strength in maize research will play an important part in the food security strategy.

The ASEAN delegates anticipate that regional food security will be threatened by global warming and are developing technologies that will allow farmers to enjoy more efficient harvests in more hostile climates.

At the conference, the delegates decided to slash a number of projects that were being covered by other organisations, like the Ecole Francais d'Extreme Orient.

"We do not want to duplicate," Haron said. "Resources are limited."

Instead, the ASEAN group will focus on the hard science of engineering more efficient crops, including rice, maize, soya beans, sugar and cassava.

Siem Reap also hosted the 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers Retreat at the Sokha Angkor Resort from earlier this week.

ANGKOR BYPASS ROAD OPEN

The Cambodia-Korea Friendship Road was officially opened on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who is the president of Apsara Authority; Korean ambassador Lee Kyung-soo; and about 50 schoolchildren from Kok Chan primary school who lined the newly paved road and waved miniature Cambodian and Korean flags.

The 20.8-kilometre road forms a large semicircle around Angkor Wat. Project manager Tith Sopha said, "the purpose of this bypass road is to divert heavy trucks from Angkor Wat".

Construction on the road began in 2006, and the Korean government provided funding for the final asphalt layer at the start of this year. The road was completed last Sunday.

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