My London Experience in Pictures

It was, for the first time in my longest distance travel in life, I flew to London of the United Kingdom. From Phnom Penh airport, formerly Pochentong airport, I took a flight to Bangkok, and transited at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and then reached Heathrow airport of London. For the first time to fly, I traveled to one of the greatest cities. Months later I still feel it was a dream, an unforgetable unique travel experience I ever had. I stayed four nights in the city, just two weeks before the new year eve.

Some selective photo I shot in London in December 2005 with my SRL Nikon F75.

My Days in London
One late afternoon at the Buckingham Palace.

My Days in London
Reuters world headquarter building–on my way to the day-long conference.

My Days in London
At the conference, Enthan Zuckerman, co-founder of Global Voices Online, talking with American participant, Jordan from Poland.

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Animal Advertising

Gigantic Google is doing so well in many countries to grab advertising dollars from traditional media such as print classifieds and television, but it does not matter much in small Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. In our digital era, most people have heard of Google Adsense, a way for website publishers to display relevant Google ads on their website and make money.

Money makes the world go round…
There have been ongoing discussions in Cambodian newspaper, the Cambodia Daily, on running elephant advertising. This month issue of the Phnom Penh Post, the English-language newspaper, has the detail. “When Wat Phnom’s resident elephant, Sam Bo, takes her leisurely lope home on Sisowath Quay each evening, she is now adorned with a curious new accessory – a bright red sign that trumpets the logo of a riverfront restaurant,” Keith Hutson and Mandy Smith of the paper wrote.

La Croissette Restaurant and Bar owner pay the elephant owner about $1 per day, and offers the 46-year-old elephant with a steady stream of fruit snacks, in exchange for the placement of a square fabric advertisement. That is the deal. Whether or not it amuses Phnom Penhers and foreign visitors, it is yet a debatable issue. “But the new campaign – call it elephant advertising – is raising both eyebrows and ire from riverfront regulars. What some are applauding as a savvy marketing gimmick, others are calling a tasteless – though harmless – form of animal embarrassment,” the reporters continued curiously.

New Casual-Shirt

I decided to replace my old Weblog theme with this new one. As always, I like clean and simple three-column layout design. There is a few more things to be familar with the new template to customize it to suit my needs. Of course, I have to make sure that it is accessible to all readers.

Next month will be the second year of this digital journal (I prefer to call it journal than blog, and I think Anne Frank’s diary might be called an online diary, too, if it were available on the Internet during that time). I have been thinking about what I am going to do with my journal for a while. I may be away for a couple of weeks, out to explore a new territory and to learn a few other things. Walking for a long time, it is time to sit down and think. For the meantime, beyond working full-tiime as a web consultant, on my spare time, I also work on several other small projects, one of them is writing short novel.

King Jayavarman VII: A Voice from the Past Brings Hope for the Future

Book author Geoff Ryman and me Photo taken by: Michaela Hackner

Phnom Penh, Cambodia–A dozen of Westerners and several Cambodians gathered for a book launch on the roof top of Foreign Correspondent of Cambodia/FCC on April 9, 2006. Geoff Ryman, a Canadian novelist, lecturer, and performer, presented his Cambodian history novel ‘the King’s Last Song’ to the public.

geoff-ryman-king-last-song

My Review: The King’s Last Song
Inspired by a visit to the spiritual and inspiring ancient and one of the world’s most wonder temple in Siem Reap, where Geoff observed an archeological dig near Angkor Wat, he began his discovering into history and modern life of the Kingdom of Cambodia. His ninth novel, titled in English, ‘The King’s Last Song,’ in Khmer ‘Kraing Meas’ (Golden Palm-Leaf Book), features King Jayavarman VII the Great who ruled Cambodia in the twelfth century.

A voice from the past brings hope for the future…
The novel, entirely a work of fiction, begins with William, a war survivor, and earns his living as a motor driver in Siem Reap, the top tourism destination and gateway to Angkor Wat.

Trained from his birth, he is friendly to everyone, even the one so rude to Tan Map, who killed his parents in the Khmer Rouge regime. Life, perhaps for William only: learns to live and accept, which is called love. Experienced in years-long conflict as a war fighter, Tan Map has too much to cope with the shadow of the past. His parents, brother and sister were faded away as the country survived the armed-conflict. He left nothing, but being rude to everyone. It is how he lashes out his anger to others, perhaps the only way to make him reaching peace. Near Angkor Wat, where United Nations Dig team working, the golden palm-leaf book was found, bright in the April heat. The inscription was believed to be a voice from the past that bring hope to the present nation. Both Tan Map, an Apsara police, and William, a Cambodian motor boy, work together to help Luc Andreid, a French archeologist, and to recover the stolen book.

A great king brings peace to warring nation. Centuries later his writings bring hope to those facing the heart-rending legacy of Cambodia’s recent history.

Half of the book delves into personal life of many ancient Kings; King Jayavarman VII was particularly one of them. From when he is a boy, to his acquaintance with one of his female slave, to his marriage to the most beautiful woman Jayarajadevi, to his being slave of the Cham, and to his being the most respected Buddhism king who conquered the most glorious period of Cambodia.

Thanks to John Weeks who got the discounted book for me, and so I had the book the signed by the author, an exciting moment.

Soben Houn and blogging

Born in 1983, Soben Houn, who stands on the international stage as Miss Utah USA 2006, represents Cambodian-American communities and her home country Cambodia. As a celebrity, she will promote the significance of higher education. She looks forward to compete in Miss USA 2006, coming on April 21.To celebrate and support Soben Houn, her fans launched a blog, Soben Huon – Miss Utah USA 2006, expressing their pride and gratitude for her achievements. On the fan-supported blog, visitors can read Soben’s profile, what’s in the news, previous competition, view the photo gallery.

Congratulations to Soben!

Your Miss. Utah title bring Cambodia and the Khmers great honor, world spotlight and more hope. All Khmers are so proud of you. More importantly, I’m sure you will compete for the Miss. Universe title. Your name Soben (meant Dream) fits really well with everything you’re persuing and working hard for. I wish and highly hope your Soben (dreams) will come true. Keep up the good work.

Good Luck 🙂

Ritchie

According to US national who has worked in Cambodia for many years, Jinja is curious about what his Khmer friends what think about the traditional annual American beauty contest. “Most families in the Cambodian countryside would be horrified to see their daughter enter a public swimsuit competition. But ‘Freshie Girl’ this ain’t.”

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When Cambodia Learns to Speak Technological Language

A decade ago, like any other countries around the world Cambodia began to catch up with Information Technology. The country was left behind the digital era, but it was until 1994 the first electronic communication introduced, years after the Internet came to life. A story of the first Cambodian email user could be found in many news articles in various newspapers. It was back in the early 1990s that a Cambodian government official hoped to continute his higher education in foreign country. The most striking moment was he could not fill in one blank space in the application form: email address. Nobody accessed to the Internet. But, it would be disappointed and dishearten to give up due to that point. As usual, technology invites the world to go on. No e-mail account, no higher education? A group of experts was formed to to setup the first email communication system in this South-east Asian country. It was when the software and necessary tools stored on a floppy disk. Job done. Then the man made it to Europe for his study. The first Internet service provider in Cambodia, Camnet, operated by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, was established in May 1997. And very soon later, an Australian telecommunications company, Big Pond, also made its presence as competitor. The established office in Phnom Penh with its server in Cambodia connected the main one in Australia. Dial-up Internet connections were made available to some non-government organizations and business enterprises that could afford the monthly fee and per-hour usage charge. It is, at any rate, comparable to how the Internet came to home users in the U.S. about twenty years ago.

The story went on that he could not communicate with his wife. It was language barrier. She could only read and write Khmer. In 2002 Matt McKinney of the Cambodia Daily wrote that
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The King’s Last Song – Book Launch

Last Friday evening I had a talk with several Cambodia bloggers. As Elizabeth traveled from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, John organized the meet-up at a foreign restaurant along Sisowath Quay. It was until then that I met Michaela, who has fellowship with the Congressional Hunger Center and she is now working in Cambodia. It has been a while that I read her Weblog to understand how a first-time foreign visitor views Cambodia and the people. She is also a contributing-author for Global Youth Fund. The photo can be found on her Flickr photo album: here and here. And surprisingly, I had the chance to talk with Geoff Ryman, book author of The King’s Last Song. His Cambodian history novel is set to be launched this weekend at the Foreign Correspondents Club. I hope to be there, too. Thank John for sending me Geoff’s introductory note:

Sunday 9th April, 6.30 pm
Foreign Correspondents Club
There is so much to be said about the beauties, history and tragedy of Cambodia that all of us talking together for a week could not say enough.
My novel THE KING’S LAST SONG focuses on two things foreigners think they know about Cambodia – the Angkor era and the catastrophes since 1970. It imagines a life of Jayavarman VII. It also tells the story of two modern Cambodians, a patrimony policeman haunted by his memories of the wars and a young motoboy whose guardians will not talk about Cambodia’s recent history.
I’d like to talk for a short while about how I came to write the book and the issues around a Westerner writing it.
Most of all, I’d like to share parts of the novel with you by reading from it to give a flavour of the story, characters and its different tones of voice. So this will be an entertainment as well as talk.
The launch is being held on April 9th at 6:30 PM at the FCC rooftop. I would love you to attend.
I’d like to thank Monument Books, the FCC and the Nou Hach Literary Journal for this opportunity.
Yours.
Geoff RYMAN

Delved into the Communication World

A newspaper article about Cambodian Weblogs was printed for the first time in July last year in the Cambodia Daily. ‘Nation’s ‘Bloggers’ Hope To Facilitate Dialogue,’ which appeared in the front-page of the English and Khmer language newspaper, is a magnet that attract many people to begin exploring this new living Weblogs on the Internet. 2005 marked the growing popularity of this citizen’s digital media. One of country’s lowest Internet penetration in South-east asia, although not one Weblog was created per an hour, at least one created every day. To its nature, most of them, after several weeks or so, become orphanage weblogs. Probably it can be compared to the Internet gold rush in the last century. Several days later another news article of the same author was published in the Wired Magazine. Titled ‘Blogs Taking Off in Cambodia,’ the news informed the world the growing popularity of this online conversation. When, as usual, expatriats take the lead in technology deployment and advacement, Cambodian young people, represents most of the country’s population, makes the news headlines.
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