MY PHNOM PENH: Oum Vantharith, tech evangelist

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MY PHNOM PENH: Oum Vantharith, tech evangelist

The new manager of 5D Lab Cambodia and one of the Kingdom’s most passionate tech evangelists, Vantharith this week shared some of his favourite things in the capital and surrounding areas Co-Working Spaces

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There are a number of co-working spaces that are starting to mushroom, but they have different targets – for example, SmallWorld in Tuol Kork is a very local co-working space for tech startups and social businesses.

And there’s also Impact Hub on Norodom, which has more of a social enterprise focus. 5D Labs, which is funded by USAID, targets students so they can utilise group spaces to use the internet or to do research.

5D Labs also has the tech-startup aspect. It’s free for everyone, so you can sign up so you can make full use of the equipment, which includes laptops, tablets, DSLR cameras, smartphones, sound gear and other things.

Khmer Smart Keyboard

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My favourite app is Khmer Smart Keyboard because it makes Khmer typing easier on mobile devices.

My personal observation is that Cambodian youth are used to Latin script because before it was hard to type Khmer script.

There are 70 plus characters in our alphabet, which made our language win a record in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Applying the original keyboard on a PC to a mobile device is not practical as the keypad is small on a mobile device.

Now more devices are equipped with touch screens, and the touch screen provides an opportunity for more adaptive Khmer typing.

With touch screens, we can make more keystrokes per finger gesture.

Transparency International

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I like Transparency International Cambodia because anti-corruption is something the Cambodian youth should be conscious of in order to move the country forward, to reduce corruption and try to be clean on ourselves and on society.

I have engaged with them in a personal capacity – I have conducted short training sessions to share my social media skills.

That’s because another thing I do is offer consulting for civil society staff – we work with our partners in civil society, who come to us and say they have a certain technology problem, and we make for them what we call an innovation resource centre.

We will find their problems, and propose solutions.

Eco-tourism

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I like going to Kirirom because it’s close by. It’s only a two-hour drive from the city, so you can just leave in the morning.

I like the environment and the view of the pine trees there.

There are many [accommodation] choices too, so visitors can choose what they like – the national park or private resorts.

It’s good for taking your family, girlfriend or friends. But my new planned destination is to go to Koh Kong’s Chi Phat.

I’m still doing my research to learn more, to stay there for a couple days.

It’s an eco-tourism village supported by one of the conservation NGOs, so the NGO itself taught the community to run the business itself, so I’m expecting I will learn something new, and take a short break to enjoy the nature.

Mercy Restaurant

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Mercy House, on Pasteur Street, is a vegetarian shop near the old US Embassy.

It’s a very old shop, but it’s still popular among the youth.

They have good variety of food, all vegetarian. Their best dishes have mushrooms – you can use it as a replacement for meat, and the feeling is still meat but actually it’s mushroom.

It’s like Chinese fusion. I’m not vegetarian, but my girlfriend took me there because sometimes we opt for fresh vegetables.

It’s got a good atmosphere, good environment, and good for dates or for a family dinner.

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