Siem Reap Scene: 2 Apr 2009

Siem Reap Scene: 2 Apr 2009


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Emmett McHenry, general manager of Sokha Angkor Resort.


Out goes the Filipino band and in comes service for locals with beer at street prices at Sokha Angkor Resort's  revamped bar.

Sokha's ebullient general manager, Emmett McHenry, has made sweeping changes to the hotel's Irish bar Blarney Stone, which has now become the Irish Sport Bar, in an attempt to appeal more to the local crowd.

Corny faux Irish touches have been removed;  the leprechaun-style vests staff had to endure are gone; the Filipino band is gone; the price of beer has been lowered to US$2; rugby shirts are on the wall and the nine TVs (and one projector) are primed to pump sports coverage.

"Tourists come and go," Emmett told Scene. "And the guests go to bed at 9:30 at night anyway. They have to wake up early and see the temples. This is for the locals. There's a separate entrance and a lot of car park space."

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Siem Reap's gay bar scene keeps expanding, and the new boy on the block is the Heart Rock Bar, near the gay-friendly Miss Wong Bar, next to Pub Street.

The Heart Rock Bar has opened in the building vacated by the White House, a Blue Pumpkin look-alike cafe that was spectacularly unsuccessful in its brief life.

The Heart Rock Bar, run by Poo Va, is starting a "Gay Show Night" this Saturday featuring gay comedy, a "funky show", a dj, and discounted beer and cocktails.


The Arts Lounge at Hotel de la Paix Wednesday night launched its new exhibition, "Narratives", which will run through May.

The launch, according to the press release, has been elevated to a "launch event" and marks a return to the more sombre themes that seemed to dominate the Siem Reap art scene in the latter half of last year.

According to the gallery's curator, Don Protasio, "Narratives" presents "two upcoming artists who mined the abundant source of their own personal stories to come up with a richly textured collection of mixed media paintings".

The two artists are the much-shown uniquely-named Mao Soviet (who surely must be regarded as having arrived rather than "upcoming") and Ben Thynan.

Like Soviet, Thynan is also a graduate of Battambang's influential Phare Ponlue Selpak school and arts centre. To add to his cred, Thynan won a UNEPA painting contest and had exhibits at SVC Center Siem Reap, Comme a la Maison and the French Cultural Center in Siem Reap.

Thynan's renditions are certainly mixed media, combining fossilised leaves, hair and paint, while Soviet's artwork combines hand-made paper treated with soil, stitching, fabrics and paint done, according to the pres release, "in an organic composition".

Soviet's work also follows his obsession with tragedy and unhappiness, and he says, "The dark shadows always follow us all the time".


Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa's genial general manager, Frenchman Raphael Guillien, is about to quit Siem Reap for a new Phnom Penh-based posting.

But the new gig will still see Guillien involved in Siem Reap ventures.

This week FCC and its affiliates - Pacharan Tapas & Bodega, The Quay Hotel, Cafe Fresco and Chow Restaurant - announced the appointment of Raphael as the group's new chief operating officer, commencing in September.

In this role he will of course be involved in the management of FCC Angkor.

In May 2007, Victoria Hotels announced his appointment as their new general manager in Siem Reap, and for the two years before that, he was general manager of Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa in Vietnam.

His career has included seven years within Le Meridien, in the South Pacific and Abu Dhabi. He has also worked at hotels in Malaysia, Cyprus and the Maldives.

During his stint at Victoria Angkor Resort he initiated several innovative ventures, including the free supply of motorcycle helmets to all staff because he was concerned about the rise in road accidents in rapidly-developing Siem Reap.


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