To live and die in South East Asia

Death and taxes are the only things certain in life so they reckon. Well death anyway: some people never pay taxes. Where you choose to live invariably impacts on where you’re likely to die and, in some cases, how. Some expats choose to live in Southeast Asia and some die…

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Khmer don’t need no education

Last year almost 75% of grade 12 students across the country failed their final exams after an anti-corruption drive, which was deemed rather unsporting, as every other grade 12 student in previous years had lied, bribed and cheated in order to pass with flying colours. Somebody must take the blame, and as usual shit always rolls downhill, from the MoEYaS, to the provincial education offices, to the school directors, to the teachers and perhaps the students themselves.

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Phnom Penh’s urban artistic renaissance

Phnom Penh is enjoying an urban artistic renaissance, a revitalisation of Khmer contemporary music and art culture which is as fast and exciting as the development of the capital itself. The reasons for this revival are numerous and complicated, but it includes the influence of the increasing presence of international artists, a vibrant local art and music scene and numerous organisations who aim to encourage and rejuvenate Khmer artistic expression.

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Scambodia, uncovered

Visitors and expats alike have many a tale of being hoodwinked in the Kingdom of Wonder. Whilst the Siem Reap milk scam, the Filipino blackjack shysters and an army of Chinese fake monks fill the forums and travel blogs, it seems like every man and his pig is in the business of relieving white folk of their hard earned dollar bills.

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The hidden gems of Toul Sleng

Between the main expat hubs of BKK1 and Russian Market there is the Toul Sleng area – a neighbourhood with a diverse mix of Khmer, Vietnamese and barang inhabitants. There, you’ll find a handful of underrated and unknown restaurants and cafes. Mostly, they are family-run establishments serving homemade fare to ardent regulars.

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Twilight of the haunted headwaters of Virachey National Park?

As we followed along we came upon a strange tree carving. It was a sketch of a primitive-looking man knifed into the bark of tree. It gave me a strange feeling, and my old Brao friend Kam-la was disturbed by it. “He says it is a sign of the spirits of Haling-Halang,” Sou translated. Kam-la looked down and muttered a few more words while looking nervously at his feet. “And he says it might also be a sign of the Tek-Tek.” Kam-la was scared.

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The palm wine story – nature’s gift to boozers

Out past the dusty roadside town of Chbar Morn, the provincial capital with a market and not much else going for it save Phnom Penh to the west and Sihanoukville port to the south-east, between the hills, sprouting rice crops and mango orchards overloaded with green fruit lives Mr Sambath, an aficionado of all things palm tree and member of the guild of neak leung tnout. He makes his living as a tapper.

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