Siem Reap Scene: 4 Jun 2009

Siem Reap Scene: 4 Jun 2009

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The Nest, Siem Reap's trendy new bar. 


Friday night heralded the grand opening of the uber-trendy Nest Angkor nightspot, the latest venture by Thai-based businessman Joseph Polito and his partner and director Socheat Cheng, who also oversees the large local Khmer restaurant, Angkor Mondial.

More than 120 guests, comprised of travel agents, hotel managers, and movers and shakers, attended the festivity at the innovative, open-air, garden-style cafe constructed from PVC-canvas sails.

But a notable absentee was Polito, stuck in Bangkok with passport problems - particularly galling for the inveterate traveller.

And shortly after the opening, Nest's general manager Ivan Comizzoli flew to Saigon, having quit the job he took up in January.

Polito, well-known in Siem Reap due to his stint as debut general manager at Hotel de la Paix, lives in Bali and owns a similar nightspot, the Nest, in Bangkok. This is perched on the rooftop of Le Fenix hotel and is regularly featured in up-market glossy magazines eliciting descriptions such as a "Hollywood style pre-party (or after-party) outdoor hangout for Bangkok lounger ... with slouch-friendly furnishings and

sultry evening breezes".

During an earlier visit to Siem Reap, Polito told Scene that US$400,000 had been sunk into the venture, adding, "We had an opportunity to open in Siem Reap with a local businessman who liked our concept. He had a great site available, and I felt there was a good existing market and opportunity."


The owners of a soon-to-be-opened boutique hotel are trying to attract cockatoos - and that's not a MICE-style acronym for a new business market. Peter Oxley and Virgilio Calaguian want to buy the birds for the garden of their seven-room hotel, The Cockatoo Resort and Restaurant, which will open later this month.

Calaguian told Scene they chose the cockatoo name to give the hotel a "tropical feel".

In contrast to the tropical feel of the resort is the hotel bar, Cafe Noir, decked out with vintage movie posters. The bar is targeted at expats, and a film club is in the works to reel in movie buffs. The owners have a collection of about 200 movies, mainly '30s and '40s detective flicks, but also classic Japanese films.


Plan International, an NGO promoting child rights, oversaw a day of activities at 17 schools in Siem Reap for International Children's Day on Monday. The exercises were based on the theme of "learn without fear", and encouraged parents, children and teachers to reduce violence in classrooms and homes. Pich Sophary, the program manager, told Scene that roughly 10,000 people participated.

"It was very successful," she said. "Children now know more about their rights." At every school, a forum was arranged for the parents, teachers and children to exchange opinions and ask questions about punishment. This was followed up with a quiz that tested the children on their understanding of their rights and domestic violence.


Junior football in Siem Reap will receive a boost over the next two weeks in mini tournaments sponsored by the Centre for Khmer Studies.

Some 150 children will take part in football tournaments for under-12 and under-16 players at the Provincial Teacher Training Centre this Sunday and June 14.

For the under-12 tournament,  teams from Anjali House, Green Gecko SC, the PTTC, Sangkheum FC and the Siem Reap International School will play.  The under-16 tournament also includes teams from all of the aforementioned NGOs, plus the Sunrise Children's Orphanage.

The emphasis of the tournament is to provide football entertainment and promote sporting values.  

The teams will play in a round-robin-style tournament, with the overall winner taking the trophy. Steve Longley, a teacher with ACE, is the tournament organiser and will also act as referee, together with Sin Bota and Prom Doung.


A highly anticipated collection of roughly 800 books and government documents worth over $37,000 arrived at the Centre for Khmer Studies last week. The collection belonged to Leonard Overton, a US diplomat who worked in Saigon and Phnom Penh during the 1950s and '60s, and according to the centre's director of operations, Michael Sullivan, it will "make a valuable contribution to understanding American and Cambodian relations during the Cold War".

Among the treasures is Le Cambodge, a three-volume book written by French explorer Etienne Francois Aymonier at the turn of the 20th century, which contains the first systematic survey of the Angkor ruins. Together, the three tomes are valued at $1,000.

Another book sure to attract interest is Charles H Wharton's An Ecological Study of the Kouprey, which documents the infamously enigmatic mammal, believed to live in Cambodia but classified as "possibly extinct". Wharton's book was published in 1957, 20 years after the buffalo-like beast was discovered and 26 years before its last recorded sighting.

There are also many official documents from the governments of the US, Cambodia, Vietnam and France, which are sure to provide juicy reading. "It's the dates on the documents that are important," said Sullivan. "They'll be very interesting to researchers interested in Cambodia's political development."


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