Man About Town

Man About Town


Siem Reap now has its very own cinema with a difference at the Angkor Trade Centre. The difference is that this movie theatre is billed as the “first personal cinema.”

Whether this means first in the world, first in Cambodia or first in Siem Reap is not declared, but a “personal cinema” is an interesting concept, dreamt up by the owner, 35-year-old Korean Park Chang Dae.

Checking it out, Manabout discovered that the entrance has a retro movie theatre feel about it, with cute popcorn and Coca Cola dispensers.

Buy a ticket, $8 per couple (and more of this shortly) and enter a two-storey complex of eleven booths, cubicles or private rooms. Each room is decked out in big comfy-sofa style seating facing a largish screen that projects DVD films.

But hey, what’s the big deal about this? Surely punters could buy a DVD for less and watch the movie from the comfort of home.

And here’s the cunning rub. The cinema is pitched at young people, notably passionate couples, who lack one essential item when viewing DVDs at home: privacy.

In a sense, this cunning marketing ploy is a modern-day version of the drive-in cinemas that were popular when baby-boomers were in the bloom of youth.  Snogging and canoodling were as much on the agenda at drive-in cinemas as was watching the actual movie. Horror moves were big because it meant more excuse for allegedly protective cuddlings. And of course many a baby boomer will wink and say that conceptions occurred on the comfy back seat of the car.

Here’s a new concept in local tourism: people porn. This term first came to Manabout’s attention on Christmas Day in an article by journalist Padraic Murphy which appeared on one of Murdoch’s Australian outlets, According to Mr Murphy,  “The other main tourism draw card near Siem Reap is the floating village, a ramshackle community of Vietnamese refugees and fishermen who live in squalor on boats among the tributaries that run into Cambodia's great lake, the Boeung Tonle Sap.

“There's no sewerage and conditions are unhygienic; particularly during the wet season when residents have to spend months on end drenched.

“In what's described as people porn, tourists are ferried through the crowded village to essentially marvel at the poverty.

“Disease in the village is rife, many children die, and tour guides direct tourists to the businesses run by locals, not those who live in the village...The villagers are nominally fishermen, but low fish stocks and the year-round influx of tourists mean many get by trying to flog trinkets and soft drinks to the visitors.

“Despite humanitarian concerns about the village and the effect of tourists, the government is forging ahead with a new port nearby to cater for the expected increase in visitors.”


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