Charishnu performance at Chaktomuk


With an Indian performer, I look as charming and smiley as him.


He’s one of my favorite musicians for his clapping hands to command other musicians.

Tharum, Dy Saveth, Chetra Chap
Chetra and I encountered living legend artist Dy Saveth (middle).


A honorable group picture with Dinesh Patnaik, the Indian ambassador to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

It’s so much fun of yesterday. The dance was so vibrant, dynamic and color, while the music was energetic. Not sure how many a time such performance will come to Phnom Penh again.

Photos courtesy of Sophat Soeung

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Introducing Camtoonista blog

As part of my series of Cambodian bloggers on blogging, I run this email interview with the young woman blogger to get to know more about her newly-launched blog Camtoonista, which is a makeup of Cambodia and Cartoonist.


Bon Sovathary, Camtoonista blogger

I first met Bon Sovathary, a 23-year-old comic artist, on a trip by helicopter to Sihanouk-ville (Kampong Som) in August this year. A reading lover, Sovathary is also a prolific blogger. She maintains Cambodian Daughter, a blog of her personal observation of life in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

ThaRum: When did you start blogging?
Sovathary: I’ve just started my comic blog last September. It’s another blog I manage beside my personal blog Cambodian Daughter.

Why?
I figure that my comic series should have a separate place to stay, so that people who want to enjoy my comic art can find them in just one click. Besides, I also want to promote Ginger series to the audience by having its own website, that’s why I decided to create one.

What do you mostly post?
For Camtoonista blog, I only post about Ginger. It’s a whole collection there. But for my old blog Cambodian Daughter, it is mostly about what interests me at the moment. I can be pretty random, because I’m into a lot of things at the same time. For example, I would write about how I appreciate the Cambodian classic dance, poetry, new books or about a piece of painting I made. Other times, I would adorn my blog with tons of photographs of things I did or places I have been to. In short, my old blog is like a personal scrapbook which you can see just about anything in it.

Talking about your new comic blog, why camtoonista? What do you
intend to do with it?
Camtoonista is a name I made up, it’s mixed from Cambodia and Cartoonist. I tried to find a unique name for a comic, but this is what I could think of at that time, so I decided to go with this name. I intend to draw more Ginger strips and post them all there. There’s no other purpose but to let people enjoy my comics.

How did you learn making comic?
I have always been interested in comic drawing. I used to read Khmer comic books when I was young and really admired the drawing skill of the artists. Then when my university had a visiting art professor from the states, I decided to enroll in course called, “Introduction to Comics and Self-publication for Women.” Actually, it was only for female students. I got to learn some basic skills about how to draw cartoon characters and a few rules of comic-making. Months later I still find myself drawing my first cartoon character Ginger. I guess that’s who I learned it.

My first-ever helicopter ride to visit hospital ship USNS Mercy in Sihanoukville


August 05, 2012
From right to left: me, a U.S. navy military and my friend Kounila Keo

Early this month I got an important call from the U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh inviting me to join half a dozen of bloggers for a trip to Kampong Som province (Sihanoukville).

I was told it’s going to be a day-long visit from Phnom Penh the capital city to the beach towns, which includes Koh Kong, a south-western province of Cambodia. I accepted the phone call invite immediately. I thought this doesn’t happen every year.

This arrangement by the embassy is quite ambitious and unique. Seven Cambodian bloggers invited to tour USNS Mercy, a hospital ship from San Diego, California. Before long, this kind of visit has been organized for mainstream journalists. So bloggers now take the turn!

It’s exciting for me. I told my mother about this trip just a few days before the trip. She asked me whether I find this scary or not. I said ‘no’. I felt no fear in me when the helicopter was taking off or landing. Before getting into Helo (the name of the helicopter), there was a brief and demonstration about safety and precaution to take should there be any accident. I felt assured by the the U.S. navy military that ‘today is going to be okay’. Everything was just amazing, I felt.

After about 45 minutes looking at Cambodian landscape from the above, we landed safely on the 272 m long ship that carries the Pacific Partnership mission crews. There are a lot of photographs here on Flickr and here.


The US helicopter at International Airport, Pochentong Air Base


On USNS Mercy the ship after 45 minutes ride from Phnom Penh. As planned, the helicopter landed on the ship. The Cloggers (from right to left) Phin Santel, Chap Chetra, Bon Sovathary, Keo Kounila, Dara Saoyuth, Norodom Soma,


Half a dozen of Cambodian bloggers get introduced to how Cambodian citizens have access to healthcare


A woman from Svay Rieng province received an operation of her eye

After lunch, we had a chance to meet the ship captain. I asked him when the ship was built.

Some more photographs here:

We returned to the airbase in Phnom Penh

Web links:
An Effective Military-to-Military Partnership
USNS Mercy Tour Part I
USNS Tour Part II
A VIP Tour of the USNS Mercy
A Tour To USNS Mercy Ship At Sihanoukville

Where’s DAS the blogger?

One of Cambodia’s anonymous blogs, DetailsAreSketchy.WordPress.Com, has left the blogosphere. In September last year I interviewed DAS the blogger behind this prominent, most read blog among expatriates living in Cambodia.

“The good thing about a blog is that it can be anonymous and you still can be contacted,” says Gary Kawaguchi, a digital media trainer at Royal University of Phnom Penh, Department of Media and Communications.

Here’s an email interview with Details are Sketchy (DAS) the blogger, who started blogging anonymously in June 2006. The prominent blogger prolifically weighs in on issues ranging from arts to politics to the World Bank’s controversial issues.

Tharum Bun: How long have you been in Cambodia?

DAS: More than 10 years. I arrived in early 1998.

Q: Why did you start blogging?

DAS: When I started writing, there wasn’t much thought-provoking blogging about Cambodia. I wanted to try and provoke some informed debate. And also, I wanted to learn more about this ‘blog’ thingy that all the cool kids were talking about.

Q: Why do you choose to blog about Cambodia?

DAS: Cambodia is where I live. And, again, I wanted to try and raise the quality of the online conversation.

Q: In your blog, you seem to prefer talking about the opinions of local bloggers more than expats or tourists. Why is this?

DAS: My guide has always been to write about things that exists online – basically, i just riff off other people’s idea. The Cambodia Daily was the lone exception. For a while I would read the Cambodia Daily for material, and comment about the news in that paper. But then my schedule changed, and I wouldn’t get the paper until after lunch, so I had to look elsewhere. All along, I wanted to try and create a place for debate and informed comment on Cambodia. So in commenting on posts by other bloggers, I was hoping to lure them into the conversation. I wanted to pump the Cambodian bloggers, and hopefully help contribute to the growth of Cambodian blogs in general. I commented on and linked to bloggers like ThaRum, Lux Mean, Kalyan (Keo), Dee Dee (the other Kalyann), Mongkol, Vireak, Kounila Keo (KK) and others in the hopes that people reading me would read them too, and that maybe those readers of other blogs might come and read me. I am not too sure how well that worked out, though. Few Cambodians ever commented regularly on my site. In the end, I think I probably made them more nervous then curious.

Q: What do you think about blogging scene here in this country?

DAS: The blogging scene here is still small, but like the country itself, it’s extremely vibrant. I think it was a Global Voices post that said Cambodia had a comparable number of English-language bloggers as did its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, even though those countries have populations much, much larger. That’s amazing. And I think it speaks to the determination of the younger generation.

Q: How is it like being an anonymous blogger?

DAS: Well, it means I don’t have to worry about someone hitting me on the head with a coconut. But also, I think — or at least I hope – the ideas that were put forth on the blog were evaluated on their merits, good or bad. It was not possible to attack the author.

Q: Some of your blog readers say that your blog lacks accuracy, and it’s largely guesswork and gossip. How do you respond to this?

DAS: Please respond in comments. They are open to everyone, and they do not require any identifying information. I am certainly not perfect. I do get things wrong. When I know about it, I always make corrections. At the same time, it’s a blog. Not a newspaper. Most of the material there is opinion. Feel free disagree. That is the whole idea.

Q: The Cambodia Daily publisher intends to file a lawsuit against you. What do you think?

DAS: Really? ROFLMAO [Rolling on Floor Laughing My Ass Off].

Q: Which country are you from?

DAS: The United States.