Man About Town: 29 Mar 2013

Man About Town: 29 Mar 2013

Due to repairs in Thailand, most or perhaps all of Siem Reap will again be without electricity on Wednesday April 3, from 6am to 6pm. You have been warned.

A team from Australian cultural heritage specialist firm Godden Mackay Logan is conducting “integrated temple management training” for staff of the Angkor World Heritage Site.

The team, which includes Aussie cultural experts Richard Mackay, Sharon Sullivan, Nicholas Hall and Georgina Lloyd, is using the “10 steps for heritage” interactive method to assist temple staff in improving operations, to “conserve heritage values, improve visitor experiences and protect the environment.”

An inaugural pilot project for the Beng Mealea temple was completed earlier in March and a new program for Angkor Thom is in progress. Topics covered by the training include “values-based management, managing visitor behaviour, visitor safety, waste removal, environmental management, monitoring and reporting.”

The training program is part of the Angkor Heritage Management Framework’s Tourism Management Plan  which, according to an Australian Embassy press release, was launched on March 25  at a ceremony presided over by Sok An, deputy prime minister and chairman of the Apsara National Authority.

The press release says that the Australian and Cambodian governments, supported by Unesco, “initiated the Heritage Management Framework project in 2008 in response to a dramatic increase in tourism, new environmental challenges and the rapid development of the communities neighbouring Cambodia’s Angkor World Heritage Site. The Tourism Management Plan is one of the major outcomes of the project.”

At the launch, Australian ambassador Penny Richards urged the Cambodian government to implement the plan without delay.

No figures were furnished to shed a light on how much all this will cost, and who will ultimately be footing the total bill, but the bet is that the cost will be hefty.  Firms such as Godden Mackay Logan presumably don’t come cheaply.

But interestingly, ambassador Richards did point out that successful implementation  of the plan will promote “pro-poor tourism.”

We shall see.

Last week Insider reported that Siem Reap’s premier spa Bodia had turned six and celebrated by expanding its premises in town. But there are now bigger expansion plans on the drawing board.  Bodia’s Phnom Penh branch is earmarked for a major upgrade. The possibility of opening spas in other Asian centres, and even further afield, is also being examined. Rumour around town is that a New York outlet is envisaged.

*Dates have now been confirmed for the ninth annual Angkor Photo Festival.  It will be held a little earlier this year, from Saturday November 23 to Sunday November 30.

*Popular Siem Reap photographer Eric de Vries says his big project for the year will be a new series of portraits, and he has already made arrangements with some celebrities for upcoming photo shoots. He hopes to put the results of this project into an exhibition “around December.”

*Anyone with a repository of Cambodian rock’n’roll cultural memorabilia. Or perhaps any rock’n’roll memorabilia will be welcome to negotiate for its display in the larger-than-large Hard Rock Café that’s earmarked initially for Siem Reap and later for  Phnom Penh. Perhaps local identity Dave Perkes can come to the fore. He’s just started up a new Facebook page called Siem Reap Rocks.The local Hard Rock Café will be housed in the building near the Old Market that was previously inhabited by Forte Insurance.

*Guesthouse operators in Siem Reap certainly come up with some creative names for their establishments. One of the favourites is No Problem Villa, and let’s hope the name hasn’t jinxed the joint.  But the prize for best esoteric name has to go to the Side Walk Never Die hotel in Taphul Street.


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