Man about town: 03 January 2014

Man about town: 03 January 2014

ALL LIT UP
Congratulations to Governor Kim Bun Song for the fantastic job he’s done in lighting up the city for the festive season. The roads along the river are festooned with overhead lights beaming out an abstract depiction of the temples and the effect is quite magical. Much of the hard labour and the nouse to turn the vision into a reality comes courtesy of Patrick Dupire, general manager of Visual Impact.

Pub Street has also had a makeover with upside down yellow umbrellas, similar to those pioneered by Shinta Mani Resort, one of the highlights of the special look. Large coloured boxes representing Christmas gifts are also scattered along the length of Pub Street and while Man About doesn’t want to appear curmudgeonly, perhaps this wasn’t the greatest ideas as it makes an already packed precinct even more packed. Room to strut and stroll should be the order of the day.

But lights and décor aside, the governor is still facing a great challenge: what to do about the plague of buses that block the narrow roadways in the precinct? Apparently there are plans to have them park in a new area to be created near the crocodile park – but will that stop wilful and wanton bus drivers who insist on driving to and parking outside of stores where commissions are handed out, oblivious to the lines of blocked traffic that result from such negligent action? Certainly the town needs a new area for buses to park, but the bus drivers themselves are in urgent need of stringent re-education.

JOURNOS AS TOURISM ATTRACTIONS
Spare us from the written mawkish meanderings of former war correspondents who have returned to Cambodia many moons later to discover that things have – surprise, surprise – changed post-war.

Spare us from the likes of Murray Fromson, a former CBS news correspondent who was here in the “haunted days” of 1975 and who last month wrote in Huffington Post that he and his wife returned to the Kingdom and ventured into the Foreign Correspondents Club to discover it . . . “had no more foreign correspondents. Those who existed moved on to cover other wars”.

Gosh darn, fancy that. Fromson wrote: “Now, the original pub had enlarged and become a highly successful hang-out for local expatriates and curious tourists. If they wanted to meet a real correspondent, they had to settle for a T-shirt on sale at the cashier's desk, with the restaurant's name splashed across it.”

Perhaps Fromson could set up shop as a tourist attraction in the FCC with a tag around his neck saying, “Meet a real life foreign correspondent – buy a T-shirt.”

But that can’t happen because Fromson admitted he had also moved on from the war and words business, and informed readers he has . . . “retired from journalism into the doldrums of academia”. adding: “But who cared anyway?”

Right on that point. Then the former journalist told his Huffington Post readers: “We had rejected the idea of continuing on to Siem Reap and the road to Angkor Wat after being warned that the whole town was now swamped with luxury hotels, guest houses and restaurants catering to tourists who paid varying figures for overnight sleepovers when more than a half century ago Mizu Waters, my Associated Press photographer, our translator, James Wilde, and I checked into the then tacky hotel, the original Grand, the only one in the whole city, that charged us a nightly fee of $15.”

Murray, we here in Siem Reap didn’t miss you all that much. We’ll let you know if war breaks out again, but in that case best leave the wife at home.

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