Man about town: 18 July 2014

Man about town: 18 July 2014

That all-American sport, baseball, is being pitched to Siem Reapers courtesy of the town’s vibrant Korean community – a baseball field has new been established by Angkor Bluesky opposite the French School of Siem Reap (E.F.S.R.)

The baseball field has been a long time coming – way back on December 26, 2005, Khmer baseball identity Joe Cook rather optimistically announced, “Baseball is coming to Siem Reap.”

Joe Cook is also known as Joeurt Puk, whose family fled to the US in 1975, where Joe became a cook at a Japanese steakhouse in Alabama, before returning to Cambodia in 2002.

In 2011 Joe starred in the documentary film Rice Field of Dreams’ which premiered at the Long Beach Art Theatre in April of that year, and followed the adventures of Joe as he coached Cambodia's first national baseball team to compete in the 2007 Southeast Asia Games in Thailand.

But getting back to Joe’s ardent 2005 prediction that baseball was coming to Siem Reap, he wrote, “Adding baseball field there, it’s a dream come true for tourism who visit Angkor Wat and have a chance to witness baseball at the same time. For Cambodian, it’s like being in Siem Reap when Angkor Wat was first built. Back then, the Angkor Wat King have his favorite sport to pleasure him, which is baseball. Well, whatever it was, it should be close to baseball.”

Whether or not, as Joe suggests, the Angkor kings delighted in baseball or something similar is a moot point that’s not worth getting bogged down in right now, because the important consideration is that baseball is here now, thanks to the Koreans.
Baseball was apparently introduced to Korea in 1905 by missionaries, and is now one of the country’s most popular sports. And now, with missionary zeal, Koreans are promoting the sport in town.

They’re a modern curse on the earhole, the cause of much aural pollution in downtown Siem Reap – walkie talkies, or i-coms as they’re known to the Khmer. They’re much beloved by our small army of security guards, who obviously get some macho kick by walking around having their i-com volume levels turned up to max, emanating a constant ear-irritating stream of squawks and squelches punctuated by hectic babble. The security guards at Lucky Mall are particularly annoying as they patrol the floors with i-coms on full volume, leaving a noxious screeching noise in their wake. Some Khmer restaurateurs also sit at their ownership tables with i-coms on full volume, ruining whatever atmosphere they try to create in their eating houses, and the foul emanations also make themselves heard in many hotel lobbies. More disturbing is that i-coms have now become de rigueur with some tuk tuk drivers, who also like their horrible little devices turned up to full volume.

Expats have yet seemingly resisted the i-com trend, although it was noted at last week’s Senhoa fashion parade that 1961 owner Loven Ramos is now armed with a walkie talkie but, being a man of noted social sensibilities, hopefully he will keep the bloody thing turned onto low volume only.

Dramatic news from the Cambodia Landmine Museum – the organisation announces that on September 1 it will increase its ticket prices by $2 to $5 per person. But kids under 12 and Khmers will still enjoy free entry.The museum says that of the extra two bucks, $1 “will go to support Aki Ra's landmine clearance programs in Cambodia.” The other dollar “will be used to help cover the increased costs of caring for the children in our charge and to support other programs in which the museum is involved: village schools, water programs, and hygiene programs.”

The museum also wants to expand the support it provides for its sister NGO, Cambodian Self Help Demining.


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