Khmer New Year 2015: what’s it all about?

khmer new year in khmer

If you’ve ever been to Cambodia at this time of year, you might wonder why Khmer New Year lasts so long. We Westerners go nuts on one night a year, while Cambodians celebrate New Year’s for days. I knew it officially lasted a few days, but in reality carried on for about a week, but that was about all. When the STA posted the following document from the Cambodia Hotel Association on their Facebook page, … Continue reading

New Water Park in Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville Cambodia water park

The four kids in our household have been hanging out for the opening of the new water park in Sihanoukville ever since the day I foolishly pointed it out to them a couple of months ago. Well, the big day came just two days ago when free entry was offered for its opening day. Since I had to work, we couldn’t go until the afternoon. That’s probably just as well, because if we had gone … Continue reading

US Embassy Phnom Penh warns about the mean streets of Cambodia

“When I ride my motorbike, I always wear my six-guns on my hips and carry a knife between my teeth. My steely eyes strike fear into the hearts of would-be attackers.” I wrote this in response to an absurd story in the Phnom Penh Post. Crime Level ‘Critical’ in Cambodia: US was the title. After listing incidents that warranted this “Critical” rating, these sage words of advice were offered: U.S. officials were also told that … Continue reading

A holiday in Siem Reap

river garden hotel siem reap

Jan Cornall’s Writer’s Journey workshops have been included in a list of the world’s best writers’ retreats. When she invited me to attend her Siem Reap workshop, I jumped at the chance. I went to one of her Bali retreats about 10 years ago and also attended her Sydney workshops and looked forward to the opportunity to re-connect. Fate was on my side and I managed to get a special deal on Angkor Sky Airline … Continue reading

The Cambodia Success Story

Nothing like jumping straight into a subject that’s sure to be controversial, so I’ll start by admitting that my pro-Cambodia stance is partly in response to all the negative press this country gets. There’s always another side of the story and a couple of articles I read recently tell that story. Yes, there is a Cambodia success story. You just have to see it in its historical context. “When a developing country loses a quarter … Continue reading

Email to an old Sihanoukville friend

Looking back towards the stoplight on Victory Hill

When I came to Sihanoukville to stay in 2007, I felt out of my depth and did what most newcomers do — asked those who had been here longer than I for their advice. One of those people was a guy who had only been here a few months longer, but he helped me more than most, not because he had all the answers, but because he admitted he didn’t. What he had to offer … Continue reading

Valentine’s Day in Sihanoukville 2015

The Valentine baby

I wasn’t going to write about Valentine’s Day in Sihanoukville this year because I wrote about it last year, but a couple of things changed my mind. First the good news. Valentine’s Day is always an expensive day here. It goes way beyond buying flowers for your “valentine.” As Sophie says, “This one day for love.” Therefore, everybody you feel affection for gets at least a token gift. That means family and friends. Added up … Continue reading

Coffee houses in Sihanoukville

del mar

I can’t write about bars because I don’t go to them, but I’m almost an expert when it comes to coffee houses in Sihanoukville. I qualify that with an “almost” because new ones spring up all the time, but I tend to stick with the ones I know. When Douceur du Cambodge opened, it took up half the space it takes up now. Even though it has doubled in size, it’s harder than ever to … Continue reading

Victory Hill Gets a Facelift!

hill - paved

A good friend of mine lives on a hill above Victory Hill. I always enjoy visiting him, but never enjoyed dodging the potholes on Ekareach Street after the stoplights on the Hill. A couple of months ago, it was even worse because they were laying pipes on the side of the road. When I went up to see him a few days ago, everything had changed. The road is wide and smooth now. Glancing to … Continue reading

Reflections on Hun Sen’s 30 Years in Power

hun sen

Back in 1985, I was preparing to move to Australia. The Vietnam War was behind us and I was oblivious to what was happening in Cambodia. I’m not proud of it, but I was still living in the American information bubble and Hun Sen’s rise to power wasn’t in the mainstream news. Here I am in Cambodia 30 years later and I seem to be one of Hun Sen’s few supporters. I may kick myself … Continue reading