Category Archives: Commentary

Pheng’s escape: A Khmer Rouge ghost story

young KR soldiers

When we come to the place there are twenty of us, they have our names. The chief of the Pol Pot talks to us, he says the Organisation will provide us each a white suit today. I know this means a cloth for the dead. They start to call us in to the room, one at a time. They don’t want anyone to see, they not want anyone to know. They kill with the ax and the knife. Continue reading

Posted in Analysis, Commentary, history, Khmer Rouge, khmer superstition, provinces, village life | Tagged , , , , , ,

Adjusting to life in Cambodia

serey sophorn village

Clarke Illmatical describes his attempts to adjust to live in Cambodia and the way the locals think and behave, and on the way learns how to deal with face, why white girl / localguy relationships are doomed to fail and – closer to home – how he is perceived as a black man in Cambodia. Continue reading

Posted in Analysis, Commentary, Expat Life, Interviews, provinces, Siem Reap, teaching | Tagged , , , , , ,

Sunday with the Kru Teay

fortunetelle hands

Fortune telling, prophecies and finding ways to influence fate form the backbone of Cambodian culture. Such things are intricately woven into ancestor worship, the spirit world and more orthodox ideas of Theravada Buddhist teachings. The above prophecy is known to pretty much every Khmer old enough to have heard it (go on, ask), and gets updated by each generation to ‘prove’ its authenticity.
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Posted in Commentary, Expat Life, fortune tellers, kru teay, provinces, Uncategorized, village life | Tagged , , , ,

The Phnom Penh Pyramid of Judgment

Cambodia Rolls Royce

People love to look down on each other. Even those at the lowest of the low finds someone else to judge. Hell, when I was addicted to heroin I looked down on the alcoholic who lived downstairs. “The poor bastard is destroying himself,” I’d think after waking up to find myself face down on my keyboard having typed 232 pages of “mmmmmmm.” Continue reading

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Four things you absolutely must do when living in a Cambodian village

group harvesting rice

I felt a little guilty after my last piece. It’s easy to sit back and pick holes in things for cheap laughs and it’s not too difficult, living among the privations of village life, to find foibles left, right and centre. So, to counter that and rebalance my kharmic merit, here are four awesome things about living in a Khmer village that you should definitely try if you get the chance. Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Expat Life, Food, provinces, teaching, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Santa and Budweiser – the Khmer explanation

xmas-samudera01-550w

Jon Allen is in Siem Reap for the holiday season and tries to explain the concept of Santa Claus to his Khmer brother. His brother rightly thinks he is a complete nutjob. Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Events, Expat Life, Siem Reap, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Lies, Lies and Aeon Mall

aeon crowds

Pedro Milladino takes a trip to Aeon Mall against his better judgement, and finds himself confronted by lies, lies and more damned lies. Continue reading

Posted in Analysis, Commentary, Expat Life, Food, Phnom Penh, shopping, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Three things to avoid in the provinces

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Nathan Thompson returns to Cambodia and settles again into village life. Here he lists three key things to avoid if you want to stay sane in your Cambodian rural idyll. Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Expat Life, Food, provinces, Travel, Uncategorized, village life | Tagged , , , , ,

Remembering keeping_it_riel – an obituary

peter hogan

The former owner and admin of Khmer440 died suddenly yesterday, aged 49. gavinmac’s portrait of keeping_it_riel remembers a friend (and occasional foe) who had an unforgettable impact on Phnom Penh expat life. Continue reading

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The curse of jetlag

riverside jetlag

Bertolt Bieber arrives in Phnom Penh and is hit by that curse of intercontinental travellers, jetlag. Here is his account of experiencing jetlag in his first couple of days in town. Continue reading

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