Category Archives: history

2019 Public Holidays in Cambodia

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As Water Festival has come to a close, and there remains only one lone holiday left in 2018 (at least it’s on a Monday!), it’s time to look forward to 2019 and the next 28 public holidays. Public Holidays in…

Posted in cambodia culture, Events, history, Phnom Penh, Travel | Tagged , ,

The Jewel in the Crown: A History of Koh Pich (Diamond Island)

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From a semi-submerged sandbar rising from where the Bassac, Tonle sap and Mekong rivers converge, to the shining light triumphing Phnom Penh’s rapid development as an international city, Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, had a short, and often troubled history. Continue reading

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Otres Beach Murder Remains Unsolved & Killer Still at Large

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When Denis Goncharov’s butchered body was discovered floating in a shallow ditch some 400m from Sihanoukville’s popular Otres Beach on July 19 2015, police quickly identified their prime suspect – the man’s best friend and business partner, Dmitry Sidorov. The details of this horrific killing shocked the coastal community that was already reeling from a recent surge in violent crime and unrest linked to feuding Russian gangs. Goncharov had been the victim of a frenzied knife attack that allegedly began while he was still riding his motorcycle. Police allege that the attacker was his passenger, and began knifing him as they travelled together. Continue reading

Posted in Expat Life, history, News, Phnom Penh, provinces | Tagged , , , ,

Decision 2017 – should we be worried, and what can we do?

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As tensions mount ahead of Sunday’s important local elections – and set the tone for the run up to 2018 – Tim LaRocco offers some wise advice to expats keen to get involved in the local political process. Don’t! Continue reading

Posted in Analysis, cambodia culture, Commentary, Expat Life, history, Phnom Penh, politics, provinces |

The pastor and the monster

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Christopher LaPel’s father was a Brahman priest serving Cambodia’s king in his role as the earthly incarnation of the god Vishnu. Imagine the shock and horror, therefore, when one evening at dinner he saw a cross hanging around his son’s…

Posted in Analysis, cambodia culture, Commentary, history, Interviews, Khmer Rouge | Tagged , , , ,

Charlie Chaplin’s Cambodia

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Charlie and Paulette were big news, the reporters descended, and Charlie entertained them “with much courtesy and charm” in the hotel bar (presumably the Elephant Bar). Phnom Penh, he said, was charming, the palaces and pagodas delightful, the Cambodian houses picturesque. He felt he had to question whether French Colonial villas (the ones the Europeans lived in) were perhaps a little suburban and uncomfortable, but the wide boulevards, built over newly-reclaimed canals, were the equal of those in Paris. Asked if he might consider making a movie in Cambodia, he didn’t rule it out, but also didn’t see it happening in the immediate future. He would, however, undertake to publicise Indochina as a tourist destination on his return home. Continue reading

Posted in Analysis, cambodia culture, Commentary, history, Siem Reap, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Singlets, Sok Bun, Sam Rainsy and the case of the missing PhD: 2015 – a year in review

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As 2015 draws to a close, it is a good moment to take a step back and look at some of the highlights – and lowlights – of the last twelve months on Khmer440, and beyond. It’s been a helluva…

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King Norodom’s Head – a book review

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I want to make one thing perfectly clear: under no circumstances will I mention Cholon Duck. Never. I know why you’re reading this, and I’m not going to give you the satisfaction. You’ll get not a word about Cholon Duck…

Posted in Book review, cambodia culture, history, Khmer Rouge, khmer superstition, Phnom Penh, Reviews | Tagged , , , , ,

Twilight of the haunted headwaters of Virachey National Park?

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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. Continue reading

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An interview with a spirit

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There are many kinds of spirit in Cambodia. One of the most important is the boramey, a powerful and benevolent supernatural being who works to help humans in this world through a human representative. The representative is possessed by the boramey and becomes the boramey for the duration of the possession. An academic who has studied spirit-possession says there are over ten thousand boramey in Cambodia, all of them named and identifiable. Continue reading

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