Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Catching up with Cambodia

I just saw a truck festooned with banners, placards and a booming loudspeaker that reminded me that electioneering has just begun ahead of this month's general election here in Cambodia. If anyone manages to beat CPP into second place, I'll eat my hat, if I had one. For those wishing to visit the mountaintop temple of Preah Vihear from the Thai side, don't bother. The border is closed and access is only possible from the Cambodian side until further notice. The border closed on 23 June as the Thais continue to throw their teddy out of the cot over Cambodia's request for World Heritage status. The Khmer Rouge Tribunal rolls on with former KR Foreign Minister Ieng Sary making a brief debut appearance in the dock yesterday. It didn't last long, he asked to be excused due to dizziness. Funding for the tribunal remains an on-going conundrum.
On the arts front, Sovannahong, a newly revived work of classical Cambodian dance, will be premiered at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall this coming Friday at 6pm. Its choreographed by HRH Princess Buppha Devi no less. Vann Nath, the painter made famous by his stark torture portraits at Tuol Sleng, is opening his own Gallery and exhibition room today on Street 169 in Phnom Penh. It's intended to be an artist's work place and where individuals and groups can meet with the artist himself to learn about his unique experiences as a survivor of S-21. This coming Saturday (5 July), Meta House will re-run Kampuchea - Death & Rebirth, the famous East German documentary shot just after the liberation of the country from the Pol Pot regime.
On a personal friends-front, Heang and his wife are expecting their first baby, a girl, sometime in July. To make things easier all round, they've moved from Siem Reap to Sisophon to be close to family. However, Heang and his car are still available for hire in both towns. Another of my best friends, Sokhom, has also become the proud owner of his own car. He's not giving up his trusty motos just yet, but a car will be more comfortable for those long trips into northern Cambodia. Find out more about Sokhom and Heang here.


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