Saturday, 10 October 2009

Siem Reap Scene

Photo by: Peter Olszewski

Water woes: Siem Reap’s iconic Pub Street becomes a river.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 09 October 2009 15:02 POST STAFF

The historic weekend floods were quite a shock for many Siem Reap residents, but this was particularly true of Leakhena Muth, wife of FCC Angkor’s Director of Rooms Division Benoit Jancloes. The first shock came when she stepped out of bed into a fresh puddle. A nanosecond later came shock number two; one of the electric variety, from power points and electric cords that were underwater.

Benoit said, “My wife got out of bed last week thinking it was a normal day. But she got an electric shock when she stepped into 20 centimetres of water. She was holding the baby at the time, so it got a jolt as well. It was a nice wake-up call.”

Luckily, the shocks were mild.

But perhaps the most poignant scenes took place riverside on Sunday near Wat Bo Bridge, when family members of a missing boy presumed drowned in the river gathered to oversee the search for his body.

The boy, 17-year-old high-school student Amkong Chamrouen was among a group of young males jumping off the bridge into the flooded waters, when he disappeared while trying to rescue another boy.

Amkong Chamrouen’s uncle told Scene the utmost thing on the parents’ mind was to find the body, and they had engaged the services of a fortune teller who said it would be found on Sunday.

The parents then spent US$30 on hiring three Vietnamese men to search the water and offered a $1,000 reward for recovery of the body.
By late Sunday afternoon, more men were searching the river as the sun set, but sadly to no avail.

Siem Reap played host to some high-profile politicians over the weekend as part of the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which went ahead despite the flooding and was opened by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The new Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, who has only held office for a month following Japan’s federal elections in September, told Scene that Siem Reap was a significant venue.

“The choice of Siem Reap is very symbolic to me on two accounts. The city embodies the long history and cultural heritage of Cambodia, and it also exemplifies the development of the Mekong region,” he said.

Foreign ministers from Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Lao PDR and the vice foreign minister of Vietnam joined Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong at the Angkor Palace Resort to discuss ongoing cooperation between the Mekong region and Japan.

Some of the organisational duties were also carried out at Sokha Angkor Resort.

Adam Robertson.

The FCC Nations Cup takes place this weekend at Angkor Golf Resort, and according to operations manager Adam Robertson, “the battle lines are drawn.”

He said, “Despite the floods, Angkor Golf Resort remains playable and more than able to cope with the rigorous demands of some of the colourful golf swings that will be on display this weekend.”

Eight nations will compete over two rounds for the inaugural FCC Nations Cup, and the man to watch is Georges Ramorasata, a runner up during the Angkor Open played earlier in the year.

A strong representation from French expatriates has emerged, including hotel manager Raphael Guilien, rejuvenated from his leave and recent new posting as group general manager of the FCC empire.

Robertson noted, “A strong challenge should come from the Celtic team comprised mainly of Irish and Scots. A swarthy bunch led by the ubiquitous Emmett McHenry will undoubtedly charge manfully, but it remains to be seen if this charge will be on the golf course or to the nearest drinks kiosk.

“A rousing battle cry will probably be heard loudest from team England as they welcome to their ranks the Hayward brothers, more affectionately known as the Wayward brothers due to their tree- splitting drives from the tee.

“Team Australia has a gritty antipodean presence, and is represented by some worthy stalwarts, including Rob Matteo and Bob Massie, having both featured in the Angkor Open at some stage or other.”

On the same weekend, Prime Minister Hun Sen will also be chasing the little white ball at Angkor Golf Resort – but he won’t be competing in the tournament.

Robertson said, “He’s got about 20 or 30 guests coming. I think it’s just a friendly game that he normally plays with his committee.”

Elizabeth Kiester, owner of ladies’ clothing boutique Wanderlust, has branched out into designing eco-friendly spa fashion wear.

The New York expat said she and her team designed and manufactured the range for Residence d’Angkor’s uber-chic new Kongkea Spa in record time.

“I’m so proud of this. We turned it around in a month – it was like a little bit of New York frenzy here in Siem Reap – but we pulled it off and the collection is quite beautiful.”

As well as the spa fashion-wear, Kiester also designed all the uniforms and robes for Residence d’Angkor’s eco-spa, which were made from organic cotton from Takeo Province. Kiester said, “It’s so important that it’s Cambodian, and that it’s supporting Cambodian people.”

Kiester’s frenzy continues as she prepares to open her second Wanderlust store, this time in Phnom Penh, at the end of the month.

“Phnom Penh will be fun, exciting and different because it’s really catering for a different customer – it’s less tourist-centric and more local-centric.”

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