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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MY PHNOM PENH: Sam Rainsy: Politician

MY PHNOM PENH: Sam Rainsy: Politician

Sam Rainsy is president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party and minority leader in the National Assembly
Sam Rainsy is president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party and minority leader in the National Assembly

MY PHNOM PENH: Sam Rainsy: Politician

Bassac River

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I like to enjoy the view behind my house of the Bassac river. When I have a few moments to relax, I go to the river. When it’s not flooded, I grow organic vegetables.

I do some boating and rowing. I even swam across the river to the other side. I used to swim across the Mekong.

In 15 minutes, I can cross the Bassac, but the Mekong took me two hours. I avoid it when there is a current. I go in the dry season when it’s not raining. But the water is not very clean. I avoid swallowing the water.

Asia Mode Tailors

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This place is for when I have to get a suit for the National Assembly or some trousers, et cetera. They are Cambodian tailors.

I cannot afford to have custom tailored clothes made in France, but labour is not expensive here. Half an hour of measurement and a few days later I have trousers and a shirt.

But actually they have my measurements already – unless I get very fat! I have many supporters there.

When I go, there is a crowd: “Oh, Sam Rainsy is coming.” It’s the neighbours, people walking by, a little crowd. Quite noticeable.

I don’t mind them. You spend a few minutes taking photos with them, selfies. Then they let you in.

Phnom Penh Markets

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Each time when I go to the market there’s a big crowd. I go to the market for political reasons and also for my pleasure, to see how people live, what they buy, what’s the price of goods.

I change markets. The day before yesterday it was O’Russey Market. Next month, I’m going to another market.

You have to go early morning, 9am. The people, they are happy to see me as I am happy to see them, so it is a mixture of personal pleasure and political activity.

Why I like to go to France or any country outside Cambodia is for the anonymity. But here, life is like this – it is part of my job.

It is a privilege you know, but sometimes I have to disconnect. There is the need to be like anybody else.

Open Wine

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I go here with my family and close friends to eat French food. My wife likes escargot but I hate that. I eat just steak with salad and the French specialities – scallop, lamb – because I used to live in France and sometimes I miss French food.

This is why I go to French restaurants, because I eat Cambodian food at home every day. I am not a wine drinker.

It is very strange, because I have lived half of my life in France but I have Asian genes that make me not tolerate alcohol.

If I have even a little bit of alcohol in my blood I get a headache. But sometimes I can drink, to raise a glass, but just symbolically.

I am not a heavy drinker, even a drinker at all. So I have soda when I go to those restaurants.

Thai Huot Market

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It’s not very far from Comme a la Maison. It’s a grocery. They sell imported food, especially from France. I can find here everything that I used to buy in France.

Yes, I cook sometimes. I have about 10 dishes I can cook well, but the rest, I’m bad. I prefer to specialise and make sure that the quality remains steady.

Lamb brain is my number one dish. We buy it directly from specialised butchers.

You put in the microwave to cook the inside and when it is uniformly cooked, then you fry it and take some time to make the external crispy, but still keep the inside soft.

Then you put on butter and lemon. Very few people like lamb brain or even know that it can be eaten.

And then the stingray. In the US, they throw it away, but in France, we eat stingrays.


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