Sirey Muny Editor-in-Chief Sirey Muny, 30, is the founder and the editor-in-chief of Tos Read News, a digital publication in Khmer that focuses on breaking news and analysis of a range of issues in Cambodia. Saying that reading is ‘the core of his life’, Muny relishes quiet and peaceful places where he can enjoy his hobby, preferably outdoors. This week, he spoke with Rinith Taing about where he likes to spend time with his beloved books.
The pond at Royal University of Phnom Penh
Royal University of Phnom Penh, the oldest university in Cambodia, does not only create human resources for the country but also provides places for the students to read and study without disturbance. Reading may be synonymous with the Hun Sen Library, where students can find thousands of books in the campus, but I prefer reading on the banks of the RUPP pond. Reading next to a pond filled with fish and lotus flowers is relaxing, but the tropical trees surrounding the pond make it even more special. I can lie on the grass or my hammock reading and sometimes recalling memories from my college years.
The Royal Palace
I am keen on reading in new places since I want to understand the relationship between reading and different environments. On the weekends, the Royal Palace, the symbol of Cambodia’s monarchy, is open to the public, and I often go there to read. In addition to the quiet, spacious compound, the special thing about this classic landmark is that when my eyes are tired from reading, I can put my books into my bag and walk around to see the monarchic objects and artworks, such as the paintings, photographs and statues of the Royal Family. Visiting the palace also offers me insight into the history of the royal family as well as the French colonial period, in which I’ve been very interested.
Two-Deer Park (Kdan Py)
If someone sees dusty, noisy Phnom Penh as the desert, Two-Deer Park, which is named after the statues of a pair of deer in the middle of it, should be the oasis. Two years ago, I founded the Mobile Library to promote reading among Cambodians, hoping they would find happiness and relaxation in this hobby like me. Every evening, I put my collection of books on a cart and drag it to the park, and people, especially children, who go there to relax or jog can read the books for free. Two-Deer Park is a really fitting place for reading. The noises from the traffic can be a bit annoying, but the blooming flowers and the grass covering almost the whole park and surrounded by exotic trees will help you to tune them out and focus on your books. There are also many food carts where you can buy peanuts, meatballs, fried noodles and other food and drinks if you are hungry or want to have some snacks to go along with your reading.
Information Resource Center – US Embassy
IRC is the public library and outreach centre of the United States Embassy, which combines traditional and modern reading. It provides Phnom Penh residents with free access to thousands of English books on a wide range of subjects. Meanwhile, IRC also offers audiobooks, DVDs and CDs, as well as free and fast WiFi, allowing them to connect with the world and to find million of e-books online. You do not need a reservation or membership card to visit the IRC, but if you want to use its audiobooks, DVDs and CDs, you have to register for a membership card, which is free of charge.
The cruise boats off Riverside
The riverside is a very popular landmark in Phnom Penh, but I find it too noisy for reading. However, I often get on one of the cruise boats along the river with a few of my favourite books and read them while sailing on the river in the evening. In general, it costs 5,000 riel ($1.25) per hour, but every minute is really worth it. The stunning views of the sun sinking into the river, the fishermen pulling their nets into the boats and the capital’s luminous nightlife do not take my attention away from my book, but they create a perfect environment for adventurous genres, especially the novels about life on the water.