Renowned photog to inaugurate gallery

The Center for Friends Without a Border will hold its grand opening in Siem Reap on November 24, and Steve McCurry is to be the inaugural artist shown in The Friends Center Art Gallery.  

His exhibition “Looking East”  will be showcased at the Friends Center from November 24 to January 31.


Photo by: Photo Supplied

Steve McCurry's exhibit "Looking East" will open later this month.

McCurry’s work will also be featured at the 12th Annual Friends of Friends Photography Auction on December 9 in New York City.  For more information about the auction, email [email protected].

For more than 20 years, McCurry dominated magazine photojournalism. In the year he won Magazine Photographer of The Year, given by the National Press Photographers Association, he also garnered an unprecedented four first prize awards in the World Press Photo contest. In his career, he has survived a plane crash at sea, a beating and near drowning in India by zealous crowds at a religious festival, and was nearly killed by a rival Mujahadeen faction. He was reported killed twice.

McCurry has assembled a prodigious body of work, including four books and countless international exhibitions.

His most notable photo is a beguiling image of a green-eyed Afghan girl that appeared on the cover of National Geographic and has been reproduced countless times.

McCurry has an unusual connection to the centre, which is part of the Angkor Hospital for Children. Once, while photographing the temples, he was bitten by a monkey and urgently treated for rabies at the hospital.

This exhibition is his way of returning a favour.

New gM takes reins at Prince d’angkor

The new general manager at the Prince d’Angkor Hotel & Spa is Ken Williams who, like his predecessor Darryl Hissey, is an Australian.

Williams has had an extensive hotel career, having worked in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, India, the Maldives and Fiji, from where he commuted regularly to the US.

Recently, he quit the hotel industry and ran a tour guide business from his hometown, the lush tropical resort Port Douglas, taking dive groups out onto the Great Barrier Reef.

But he said he reached a stage where he had to make changes and decisions in his life, and accepted the offer from a headhunting company to take over the Prince d’Angkor. 

Williams officially will start the job Sunday, but he actually turned up and signed in last Saturday. Also, being a true blue Aussie, he went to great pains to correlate international times so that he was not working during the running of the legendary Melbourne Cup horse race Tuesday.

“No matter where in the world I’m working, I always make a point of not working during the running of the Melbourne Cup,” he told Scene.

Williams said he wasn’t daunted by the economic crisis and its possible effect on the hotel. “This hotel has always run with very good occupancy, and we’ve got a huge Japanese market,” he said.

“We haven’t experienced much of a fall in occupancy at all, although it has been peaking and troughing.”

cocktails raise funds for hospital

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Eugene Tragus mixes a caipirinha at the Miss Wong Bar.

Two Pub Street bars combined forces Saturday night to raise funds for charity. Siem Reap’s new late-night cocktail bar, Miss Wong, and neighbouring Silk Garden Restaurant donated profits from their businesses to the Angkor Hospital for Children.

On the first Saturday of the past three months, the Silk Garden has provided a barbecue, with a percentage of the takings going to the hospital,  and this month the Miss Wong Bar got in on the act.

The new Shanghai-themed cocktail lounge enlisted the help of retired cardiac surgeon and hospital board member Dr Eugene Tragus, who, unbeknownst to most Siem Reap locals, is an expert in the art of mixing caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil.

Dressed in a black-and-white barman’s uniform, the doctor entertained guests with his stories of making cocktails in a beachside South American bar during his summer holidays when he was a student.

During the two-hour fundraiser session, customers and the bar staff of Miss Wong received expert training in the art of making caipirinha, and they produced more than 50 cocktails alongside the guest barman.

The evening raised over $170 for the hospital.

Dr Gene’s Caipirinha Recipe: 1 lime chopped into small cubes, three teaspoons of crystallised palm sugar, 60ml of cachaca rum and half a cup of crushed ice with water. Place the lime and sugar in the bottom of a glass. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, crush and mash the limes.

Pour in the liquor and ice. Stir well.

Openings, not closings

Contrary to blog rumours, the slightly recessed Siem Reap tourist market hasn’t seen a swath of business shutdowns. Instead, branch offices of Phnom Penh-based businesses are opening on a weekly basis, another new shopping mall is set to open next to Angkor National Museum and new hotels are still opening their doors.

There is considerable growth in the upmarket boutique hotel niche, and on this front, father-and-son team Christian and Bertrand Prestaut are committed to a December 1 opening of their luxury boutique hotel, The Samar Villas and Spa. This is an eight-suite, one apartment-villa complex behind La Meridian Hotel.

Christian Prestaut, who operates a similar luxury hotel in Morocco, was the Paris manager of American Express for 35 years, and son Bertrand operates   L’escale des Arts & des Sans restaurant.

Bertrand told Scene that they are committed to the December 1 launch because on December 8 they will be hosting 10 European journalists who have been invited to write about the hotel and Siem Reap.

Another boutique hotel, the five-star Nibbana, is also due to open soon, probably in the last week of December.

This contemporary-designed, ultra-private and luxurious hotel, on Wat Bo Street, has nine deluxe rooms, a two-bedroom villa and a one-bedroom villa suite.

Both suites have a private swimming pool, Jacuzzi and garden.

The Nibbana is owned by Nicimex Ltd, a consortium of Cambodian-based French business people.

Also underway is the new riverside Butterfly Hotel, an extension of the recently opened Butterfly Residences upscale apartment complex. This venture is part-financed by a consortium of professional expats in Ho Chi Minh City.


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