I got an extra wee holiday this month, courtesy of the local elections. The university was closed for four days (including the weekend) – presumably to allow staff and students to get to their homelands to vote and return by ox-cart. The government put …

We’ve been overwhelmed with emails asking for more Dengue Fever (people love this band) so here they are again and this time live in Seattle.


Fresh off the Bus

This is a cautionary tale for anyone wanting to come to on Cambodia holiday and I hope the story you read makes you all think long and hard. Visiting Cambodia has had far reaching and potentially irreversible effects on my …

Here”s Dengue Fever performing at the recent SXSW 2007 in Austin, Texas.

Hat tip to Jeff


Day Five: The End of Week One

One of the objectives that I set myself for the first week is to learn the names of all my new students. At the moment, I’m not teaching very many classes. I have about forty students in all, so five days is a reasonable amount of time to get most of their names down.

It may only take one or two tries to get the name of that beautiful girl in the corner or that wisecracking boy in the back row. Yet, learning the rest can be difficult. Some teachers see hundreds of fresh faces each term, and most of them are likely to have rather unmemorable Khmer names.

Learning all their names is important for several reasons. The most obvious one is simply to show that you recognise your students. How would you feel if you were called ‘You-over-there-in-the-corner’ for ten weeks? Learning someone’s name shows you care, and that’s part of developing a good rapport.

Another reason has to do with classroom management. Remember all those laws you laid down on Day One? They?re a lot easier to enforce when you can call students by name. It makes them pay attention. It makes them listen up.

Imagine you’re explaining something and there?s distracting chatter coming from one corner. You unexpectedly raise you voice slightly and call, ‘Borey!’ The entire class falls silent, and twenty pairs of eyes turn to the source of the chatter.

Borey remembers your laws, and now he is trembling at the threat of your wrath. He appears confused for a second, then gathers his wits and looks to his friends to supply the answer, but you pre-empt this rescue by looking directly at him and saying, – Please pay attention, Borey. I asked you ??

You repeat whatever question it was that you asked in the first place, and if Borey is clever enough to get it right, you turn the situation around by giving him due praise. Being singled out is generally sufficient chastisement.

So learning names is important, but how do you do it? Years ago, I made the mistake of endlessly asking them to tell me their names whenever I called on them to supply an answer. This usually led to this sort of exchange (S. = Student, T. = Teacher).

I’ve read a few posts on the forum recently from people asking about places to go other than the boring st 51 scene. I thought I’d write about some places I’ve been to, and what they were like.

If anyone else has any more …


I ended my last report with this aside: “If I were to confuse the news with reality, I’d have to deduce that the UK is just like Cambodia, except that it has terrorism and snow.”

Here’s where there is a key difference though. …

woman noise

Cambodians love noise, or so it would seem. Or maybe they just don’t notice it. Possibly, if it does bother them, they”re simply too tolerant as a people to make a fuss.

Or maybe it’s all of the above. Not so myself, I”m …


Recently one of the country’s top pop stars and TV presenters was gunned down mid-morning outside her English class (given the ugly anti-Vietnamese xenophobia here, a news headline in English was disgracefully inflammatory in its ambiguity – ‘Cambodian Pop Star Critically Wounded in Vietnam’) …


Travellers considering renting a motorbike while in the coastal resort of Sihanoukville/Kompong Som should be aware that the authorities are currently insisting that foreigners carry a Cambodian drivers license. This post comes from local resident and business owner, “Laud John” and was originally posted …