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Slices of Siem Reap

Some welcome sporting distractions for Siem Reap's more activeminded residents

and visitors over the past fortnight. The 10th Angkor Wat International Half-Marathon

was held on the November 20. With seven walking and running events held over two

days, competitors from over 20 countries ran a course that cuts through Angkor Thom

and passes by 10 of Siem Reap's temples.

Established in 1996 by the Khmer Amateur Athletics Association and the Japanese NGO

Hearts of Gold, the marathon raises money for landmine victims and also distributes

proceeds to charities working in poverty alleviation and HIV\AIDS education campaigns.

If being a spectator is more your thing then the Angkor Football Association (AFA)

Youth Tournament kicked off on Nov 19. Twenty-four Under 21 and Under 17 teams representing

schools and NGO's from across Siem Reap province compete for a place in the final

at the end of January.

In a bid to get a youth league up and running, the AFA established the competition

with oversees help. If you want to lend your support, and see the teams turn out

in shiny new boots donated by English Premiership club Manchester United, the matches

are held at the Olympic Stadium on Saturdays and Sundays with the first match kicking

off at 8am and the last at 4pm.

For those stunned into a silent bewilderment by the very idea of a 21 kilometer run

or 90 minutes of kicking a pig's bladder around a few thousand square meters of grass,

the opening of the Sydney Aqua swimming pool provides a pleasant compromise. For

$2/day, $20/month or a reduced rate if you are Khmer, you can get in a bit of exercise

by swimming a few lengths. If you are feeling downright lazy or just in need of a

drink you can still sit at the bar in the pool and kid yourself that in some way

you are doing something constructive while sipping your beer. Come evening, you should

be just about ready for one of the planned nightclub or party nights that will be

held on weekends. Be warned though: Just because co-owner Paul can take a controlled

fall-or as he calls it "a dive"-off the bar doesn't necessarily mean that

you will get away with it.

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