Siem Reap Scene: 12 Mar 2009

Siem Reap Scene: 12 Mar 2009



Siem Reap yoga teacher Heidi Dewold launched an acupuncture program on Saturday with the Global Child NGO.  

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Siem Reap yoga teacher Heidi Dewold.

She has been teaching yoga at Global Child since January and said she was inspired to incorporate the acupuncture elements after a seven-month visit to India last year.

While in India she witnessed a yogi using acupuncture to promote mental and physical health in young girls just saved from sexual slavery. 

Already very interested in using yoga as a form of therapy, she said she returned to Siem Reap intent on bringing acupuncture's benefits to Cambodian children who have experienced their own traumas and tragedies.

Dewold also runs an acupuncture clinic out of her home where she treats both Cambodian and Western clients for ailments such as migraines, anxiety and insomnia. But her long-term focus is on the emotional health of Siem Reap's children.  "When you cleanse the body, you cleanse emotions, and both yoga and acupuncture cleanse the body.  One is using Indian philosophy and the other Chinese medicine. They are very different, but there are great similarities between the two," she said.


Many Siem Reap businesses and homes have been without a regular water service for more than seven weeks, and last week Scene quoted the director of production at the Siem Reap Water Supply Authority, Kong Sokvan, boldly asserting that the water disruptions would cease in about four days to one week.

In fact, shortly after the Post hit the streets last Thursday, the water supply reverted to normal full pressure, catching many stunned businesses unawares, including the Post's Siem Reap bureau, which was flooded.

Since then, a water supply at full pressure has almost been constant, with a few minor disruptions, despite further rumours that the water supply would not be renewed for six months.

Now, with the water problem seemingly solved, new rumours are sweeping Siem Reap that the electricity supply will be cut for several days. Scene has confirmed that there will be major work on electricity lines with some disruptions, but the magnitude of these disruptions is as yet unknown.

Expect candle sales to surge.


While many of the big hotels in Siem Reap are reporting big occupancy drops, several new boutique-style hotels are reporting good numbers, with bookings through April.

The newest of these hotels, the Villa Kiara, also reports a quick buildup of occupancy scheduled for April. This 17-room boutique hotel in Salakomroeuk commune opened on March 5 with nine of its rooms guest-ready.

This hotel is a sort of sister hotel to the Day Inn Angkor Resort. Villa Kiara is owned by Frenchman Laurent Baldini, formerly an executive chef at the Day Inn Angkor Resort for three years. Baldini is also married to Danielle Baldini, who is the daughter of Day Inn co-owner Chheng Meng. The hotel has not appointed a general manager, but the sales and marketing manager, Teng Reaksmey, formerly assistant sales manager at Borei Angkor Hotel, will make many of the decisions.

A special feature of the hotel is the Iris Massage centre, located in a little wooden house that stood on the site for the past 25 years. This quaint house may not warrant heritage protection, but Baldini figured it was worth preserving to add a touch of Khmer authenticity to the hotel grounds.

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The unusual architecture of the Nest Angkor nightclub under construction.


Plans have been pushed back for the opening of Thai-based businessman Joseph Polito's Siem Reap version of his Bangkok haven for high fliers, Nest Angkor. Polito, a former general manger of Hotel de la Paix, has set all sorts of construction records on his Sivutha Boulevard site, which now features a very distinctive set of sail-like fixtures emerging Phoenix-like from the builder's rubble.

But despite the rapid advance, he has been forced to delay the opening. On January 8 Polito told Scene he hoped to open the $400,000 nightspot by mid-February. This seemed highly optimistic. On the weekend he informed Scene that he expected to open by the end of this week. This too seemed highly optimistic.

But on Tuesday Polito, who is now in Siem Reap to oversee the project, said, "There seems to be a problem with our wood floor and therefore the opening is now postponed".

Polito's Nest nightspot in Bangkok is perched on the rooftop of Le Fenix hotel and has been described in the Bangkok glossies as a "Hollywood-style pre-party (or after-party) outdoor hangout for Bangkok loungers".

Siem Reap's Nest, with its au courant open-air architecture, "Is same in concept and almost identical to the one we did in Bangkok, but Nest Angkor is larger and in many ways will be an improvement to Bangkok".


Friday was a dramatic day for honourary British warden and Ivy Guest house proprietor Karl Balch.  While busy overseeing the launch of his wife Sam Sovannary's new vegetarian restaurant in the Pub Street precinct, Balch had to contend with yet another psychotic lodger at his guest house. The man, a Canadian civil servant, had been ditched by his girlfriend and neglected to take his medication, resulting in a rapidly declining mental state.

Police and the Canadian embassy were eventually called in to assist. Balch was then left free to preside over the ceremonials at the opening of his wife's stylish eatery,  V&A, next to Central Cafe.

Balch said V&A "firstly stands for Veggies and Alcohol , but my wife's children are called Vichea and Annan, so that's what she tells her kids the name stands for".

In keeping with the family affair aspect, Sam Sovannary's brother-in-law, a vegetarian of 30 years who lives in London, returned to Cambodia to help create the menu.

Balch said, "We are trying very hard to use all organic locally produced ingredients; this makes them very fresh".


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