“Beauty Lies in The Eyes of Beholders”

First-off, I would like to say I’m painful seeing so many confusions have been put on me. I didn’t scolding people, burnt somebody’s house nor steal someone’s wealth, but I did an unforgettable mistake in journalism field, in which I have been working for 2 years by now. I love my job. It teaches me a lot, or at least how to write better.

During my internship at PhnomPenhPost newspaper, Lifestyle and 7Days magazine, surely gave me one of the great times in my career, but naturally nothing is perfect, which means mistakes I had made were along the side. Lifestyle is what I always want to write about, and keep my profession in it. Seeing our own byline shines on newspaper is something I am sure every journalist proud of, but at the same time, you have to make sure your story is going on without any controversial or bad impact on any individuals. However, I’m careless enough to make an unintentional mistake happened, which totally almost bring me down to the core.    

I once wrote an article about a new trendy beverage in Cambodia ‘Milk Green Tea’ which I personally like drinking it, and feel positive of its side-effects. Yet, the mistake was turned out by the miscommunication between me and my new editor, who just came from British. I sent an article to her, and soon after that I received a mail to clarify about the sources. I unnoticeably sent her back, and didn’t bother ask her why. The next day, I was shock seeing the article I wrote has been completely changed both content and structure. The whole article was totally changed and the content turn out to be something very criticize toward Milk Green Tea. This could have a bad impact on the business and my source, Milk Green Tea’s owner. I went back to her and ask why this thing happened, and she replied, She saw an buried angle inside the article I wrote, so she wanted to make it look more interesting. While she didn’t really know much about Cambodia because she just came for a week or two. 

Actually, I was so sad at that time because nothing can be changed as the newspaper published already. I realized its not her fault alone because I found the mistake we both made is miscommunication. If we discussed more about the topic, I’m sure this thing will never ever happened. 

This post is to share my experiences between me as a writer with editor. The relationship between writer and editor is quite important than anything else because we both all responsible for the articles we published. I hope reader and other journalists learn from this lesson, and avoid the stupid mistake. Another purpose of the post is to show my SINCERE APOLOGIZE to my source, Milk Green Tea’s owner as the mistake could bring bad impact to his business. 

Here is my original writing: 

Milk Green Tea in Cambodian Favor

The tradition of drinking tea—inhaling the aromas deeply to savor the flavor of the tea before drinking it—has known as a never-ending beautiful norm for Chinese people at any meeting occasions.  And drinking café is the choice for westerners.

While in Cambodia modernity’s case, a new imported drink called ‘milk green tea’ is the choice for many young Cambodian, and makes some teenagers couldn’t let go a day with drinking it.

The sweet or not too sweet taste, depends on the milk added, green tea filled in the long plastic battle has become a trendy beverage for most young Cambodian.

Within a year of the business’s existence in town, from mid 2011, around a dozen of green tea shops (with different branch names) have been opened one after another in the city due to the sharp increased number of drinker.

Most of the shop is designed with natural-inspired decorations, foreign-styled furniture, and confortable seat, which grip the customers mind into a new sense of tasting in term of drinking and seating environment.

Milk Green Tea shop, one of the green tea branches in Phnom Penh, has open four shops—aim to open two more by the end of the year—located nearby high schools and universities drags more than 400 drinkers to one shop each day.

Mam Chanratanak, a 29 year-old shop owner explained that the taste is not original imported. “Though the materials are imported from abroad, but the real flavors in his shop has is what he created by himself. To make drinker long for the taste, I need to create new Cambodia taste for the shop instead of bring the taste from abroad.”

Becoming a milk green tea lover, 18 year-old, American Intercon School student, Lay Kimang drinks milk green tea everyday because she seem to long for the sweet flavor it contains. She would call for the delivery, if she has no friend to go with.

A grade 12 student at Toul Tom Pong high school, Ly Seyha, one of the regular drinker told, “I come here almost everyday and some day I come here twice to drink my favorite shaked-milk green tea. Sometimes, my friends call me to join them chit-chatting or doing homework together because we feel comfortable with the place (environment and seat) plus the price is also reasonable.”  

The price for a battle of milk green tea range from $1 to $1.5 dollars is considered to be fine with the customer’s affordability, said Milk Green Tea shop owner. 

“I found that it is hard for teenager to find the right place to enjoy beverage while the price is reasonable, because most of Café shop in Cambodia sell in higher price—$2 to $3 per cup—which is a big high for teenager to afford,” Chanratanak added. 

For affordability and well-decorating environment makes green tea shop as a popular place where teenager and gathered together and enjoy their new lifestyle, which never happened in city before. 

“Most of customers coming to my shop in group. Besides the tasty taste of the drink, they can enjoy the time spent together with their friends by sitting, talking, playing music, and singing. These are what I want to see young Cambodia do for their free time,” said Ratanak.

Despite the criticisms that green tea shops cause students for skipping school and wasting time, some believe it sways students mind from doing others bad things such as criminal and couple dating, which is a concern for parents.

It reminds of the last several years, when bubble tea shop was looming as a place for young couple to date and went beyond the traditional boundaries. 

A milk green tea lover, Nhem Viboramey, a Sisowath high school student, told that she has replaced her habit of going to sing karaoke with friends to going to green tea shop. “I find it will be more advantageous when we can sit down, drink a tasty beverage with friend and share any story together than just singing karaoke.”  

However, consuming so much milk green tea can cause concerns for those who has diabetic illness, a recommendation from the shop owner.

“For young people, you can drink up to two bottles a day without any side affect because it can compromise with the energy you used, yet for those who has any kind of diabetic can’t eat sweet, you reduce your drinking that kind of beverage,” said Chanratana. 

Here is the edited version by editor: 

Tea Craze Lures Teens to Skip School

It’s an addiction that has hundreds of young Cambodians flocking to get their fix every day – green tea shops.

Imported “milk green tea”, or green tea milkshakes, bring hundreds of youngsters to shops each day to socialise, prompting accusations that the shops are too much fun, and fuel absence from school. 

Within a year of the first branch opening in Phnom Penh in mid 2011, around a dozen specialised green tea shops have popped up in the city, catering to children and young people who are hooked on both the sugary drink and using the shops as a social hub.

Milk Green Tea shop, the main café chain that stocks the US$1 drink, has opened four shops in the city. It aims to open two more by the end of the year.

Located near high schools and universities, some branches draw more than 400 drinkers every day. Some have ditched karaoke for the shops where they can gossip, play music and bring dates. 

Chey Vileak, a freshman at Royal University of Phnom Penh said that the cafés have become an important place to socialise. 

She said: “The new generation wants to express themselves in groups and in public. In the past few years, they haven’t had anywhere to go apart from the riverside or dating in private places.”

“But I’m not recommending they go to milk green tea shops every day without studying,” she added.

The craze has drawn comparisons with the bubble tea shop fad in 2010 when groups of young people used cafés that sold bubble tea as places to take dates and go beyond traditional sexual boundaries.

It came to an end when officials closed the shops, citing immoral behaviour. Some were accused of doubling as pornography theatres and drug dens.

The latest green tea shops have been subject to complaints that children are skipping school classes to go to the cafés.

Lim Sokly, 26, who works at an NGO, said: “Green tea with milk does taste good – but not good enough to make it worth dragging teenagers there to skip school. Teenagers like following one another. If they see their friends going there, they will be tempted to go too.”

Chan Ratanak, who owns a branch of Milk Green Tea, says the change of lifestyle is a good one. “Most of our customers come to my shop in groups. Besides the taste of the drink, they can enjoy the time spent together with their friends by sitting, talking, playing music, and singing. These are things I want to see young Cambodians doing with their free time,” he said. 

The only threat the drink poses, he added, lay in its sugary potency. “For diabetics who can’t eat sweet things, you should reduce your drinking of that kind of beverage.” 

Ly Seyha, in grade 12 at Tuol Tom Pong high school, drinks the tea once, if not twice, daily.

She said: “I come here every day. Some days I come here twice just to drink my favourite milk-shake green tea. My friends call me to join them chatting or doing homework together because the environmental is comfortable for us, and the price is reasonable.”

Ratanak said he settled on a cheaper price than other cafés, where drinks can cost $2 a cup – too much for teenagers, he said.

Next, he said, he wants to create the drink himself to sell rather than import it.

“To make drinkers long for the taste, I need to create new Cambodia taste for the shop instead of bringing the taste from abroad.”

13th November, 2012 Lim Meng Y 


My Impression on Siem Reap

By Lim Meng Y


“Everyone calls it ‘The Trove of Temple City, and I call it ‘An eye-candy city'” 


The cry of cicada broke the silence of a long walk-path from the entrance gate to an encircled temple arena roamed my thought slightly to the moment I lost myself in a so-called ‘The trove of temple city’, which is spectacularly in Siem Reap, the second biggest city of Cambodia. 

The temple that pride, the landscape that widen your eyes, and the lifestyle that contend the beauty things in life are the views that synchronized most part of me to Siem Reap, no matter how many times I have been here. I personally call Siem Reap as an eye-candy city where I have always wanted to spent my trip at, and here I’m once again in November 2012. 

Coming to Siem Reap was not a roaming trip, but a real purpose of everyone and I wish to visit. The city lurks in the northwestern part of Cambodia, where it has always been known for its stunning culture, magnificent architectures with a glory history. 

Most people including me—at my first visit in 2003—made a mistaken impression that Angkor Wat was a single temple that one must visit. And I realized I was so wrong after learning about Khmer history at school. I paid couple more visits in years after that without getting any dreary.

Tuk Tuk is popular transportation for all tourists. I, myself, named it as a symbolic transportation of Siem Reap. You would not surprise seeing so many foreigners and local visitors getting on Tuk Tuk, which need to pay from $12 to $28 to make your way to the small or big circuit of temple area. The small circuit is the most popular one where Angkor Wat, Ta Prom, Bayon temple and some others are sited.

I was amazed to the maximum whenever I reached each temple. The complicated but stunning religious inspired structures are still unclear stated on how they all were constructed. Words simply cannot describe the exquisite carving that cover on the wall of the temple. The galleries stretch hundreds of feet in length. Deep within every carve and sketch lay an explanation of history in different way and different temple.

After visiting temple, Tuk Tuk brought me to Siem Reap town I could see a lot of French colonial architectures shines at both sides to road with thousands year-old tree lining along. This made me even feels more positively ancient to the city while contemporary building also get my eyes wide open to its modernity style. 

No one could deny enjoying nightlife in Siem Reap, which is definitely awesome and joyful if compare to other provinces I have been visited. Night market and Pub Street are the best-known nightlife place for visitors especially foreigners. The roads are filled with souvenir stores, restaurant, pubs which many chillers were here and there talking, drinking and dancing along. I could not help, but made a stop at a bar, enjoyed the drink, and looked people made their night at there. But one thing I realized is I could not stop smiling seeing all of those. ‘Here, I found my place,’ I said.

Mentioning about Khmer’s food, I bet Siem Reap serves the best. Every dish contains the originality of its taste. Prohok, A Mok Trey, Po’ork are my favorite dishes I have never ever get over it, not to mention about Siem Reap soup or ‘M’chou Siem Reap’ which is irresistibly delicious, and so many more that I could not list all of them here. I guess every visitor feel the same.  

The trip got me so many far-reaching experiences and inspired feeling. You would not believe how the city grips me into the nature and pride of my nation. A visit could worth a trip, but a discovery and exploration should add to your trip to Siem Reap, the place that I would recommend to turn your next trip to Siem Reap, ‘The Trove of Temple City’.


4th November, 2012, Siem Reap. 


Novice Life

By: Lim Meng Y
Monks life AsiaLIFE Cambodia

Every year, children across Cambodia don saffron robes and become novice monks. Writer Lim Meng Y investigates the reasons behind their decisions. Photography by Conor Wall.

Sitting among 15 young boys in the centre of Tuol Tom Pong pagoda, 12-year-old San Vitou listens carefully to the senior monks surrounding him. The pink cotton scarf wrapped around his slight frame represents his role as a ‘dragon’, a young boy who is preparing to enter a new life as a novice monk or ‘nan’.

Like his counterparts, all aged between eight and 15, Vitou’s head has been shaved. By the end of the day’s Bombous Neak ceremony, attended by hundreds of worshippers, he will change into the saffron robes that symbolise his new role in society.

Each boy has received training before the ceremony, learning the Buddhist chants and obligations that will be central to daily life in the temple. “I came to live in the pagoda three months before I decided to choose to become a monk,” says Vitou, whose father has come from Kampong Thom province to witness the occasion.

Behind the Decision

In Cambodia, it is a common custom for young men to become a monk for at least two weeks in order to pay gratitude to their parents, but for many — like Vitou — poverty plays a part in their decision to enter a religious order. Entering the pagoda gives many a chance to learn.

“Almost all the young monks here are from poor families that cannot support them in living and studying,” explains senior monk Sok Kim Yeng.

“The pagoda is the only place lighting their lives up with education,” adds the temple’s chief monk, 44-year-old Kean Sokunthea, who has visited orphanages to look for potential novices.

“We have no rights to force the kids, yet they happily ask to be a monk because they want to learn. It simply means they are born with the gift of Buddha.”

For Vitou’s father, Sang Hay, the ceremony marks hope for his son’s future. His wife has Down’s Syndrome, reducing the family’s earning potential.

“I’m happy to see him become a monk, who is the most respectful person,” he says, watching proudly as his son takes centre-stage. “At least his future isn’t destroyed by poverty.”

It’s a similar story for Seng San, whose eight-year-old son is joining his two older brothers at the temple by becoming a novice.

“My wife and I could earn too little to support the whole family of eight people. I don’t want to see my son live uneducated,” he explains. 


Daily Duties

Along with moving away from home, the transformation from ordinary boy to novice monk brings responsibility. Nan share similar obligations to samene monks, who are over 18 years old.

Novices follow the five Buddha’s five ‘no’s’ that ban killing, stealing, lying, drinking and womanising. Further responsibilities at the pagoda depend on their physical condition, but Buddha says the young should respect and serve the old.

During the Buddhist rainy season retreat, Choul Vassa, monks have to stay in the pagoda and devote themselves to Dhamma or Buddhist studies. Both nan and samene wake at dawn and may not retire until late at night.

“Those kids have to wake up like us, no matter if they want to or not. At least, they are sitting there and completing their obligations as monks,” says head monk Sokunthea.

Along with daily tasks, nan spend an additional five hours each day on school subjects such as Khmer literature, mathematics, Baley language, Buddhist scripture, the life of Buddha and English.

Classes are taught by senior monk or clergymen and, by following rules and completing the obligations well, young monks can be rewarded. They are sometimes allowed to watch television for an evening.

“It is just to reward for their hard work and encourage them to learn,” says Sokunthea. “What I love the most about them is they are really obedient and sharing. They love and care each other because we teach them to understand they are one.”


A Greater Understanding

Due to their young age, novices are not expected to fully understand the meaning of Buddhist script.

“If we asked them to memorise the chant, they will try to memorise it but they don’t understand the reason … besides that it’s his duty,” says Sokunthea.

It is hoped that by the time they turn 18 or 19, a greater religious understanding will have developed, as in the case of senior monk Sok Kim Yeng who became a novice at the age of 14.

 “At that time, my parents asked me to become monk in order to study and pay gratitude back to parents. I accepted that without an understanding of what gratitude is,” he says. “I could understand what I was doing when I turned to 19. [Now] I tend to love it more.”

For the meantime, once the Bombous Neak ceremony is over, daily life and lessons at the pagoda will resume for the young monks at Tuol Tom Pong. As eight-year-old Visal says: “I come here to learn and be a good person.”

Source: AsiaLife Magazine 

If we could have a decent living

By: Lim Meng Y

It was November last year, when Cambodia held its first ever Fashion-Week in Phnom Penh. Cambodia was targeted by world famous fashion designer to bring fashion week, latest collection, runways-show to the elites—the wealthiest of the wealthy. It has been claimed nonsense toward the purpose of bringing that so-called ‘A-waste-of-money project’ to the kingdom because though Cambodia covers billions of dollars worth for the world export market each year, it is still known as the country where so much of cheap clothes are made. Those elites really have no idea that behind those hierarchy materials lays the hardship of hundreds of thousand of over-worked and under-paid garment workers.

Thousands of rental rooms lining up in rows. / Photo by Lim MengY 400,000 Cambodians, mostly women from rural areas, have been employing as garment workers at foreign-invested factories. They could earn only $2 a day and are not able to meet basic needs of their living. Not so happy with the information, I decided to go to Chom Chao district, where so many factories are located, to see the real situation of those garment workers.

After recommended from a person at Workers Information Center (WIC), I finally met a garment worker Chhum Chanthy. She has been working in this field for 5 years. I was able to visit her rental room, but she refused to call it as a room because she said, “It is just a chaos place where I can only lay my back down.”

This unfortunate-fact of life started when Chanty left her hometown, Svay Reang, in 2007 for Phnom Penh city to earn a living as garment worker, the position which she never expects for this insufficient income that she have to share her rental room with other 5 workers. Down to a path next to Independent Market I from Veng Sreng road there are several small walkways which head to thousands of rental rooms lining up in rows. That’s an eye-wide-opening if any stranger goes there and sees how miserable the livelihood is, and will be definitely shocked that this kind of place does exist in the town.

Chhum Chanthy in her room giving an interview with the CambodiaCircles writer. / Photo by Lim MengY Chanthy’s about-2.5-square-meter room is jammed with two up-rised beds with a small kitchen and stuff. “I have to share with other 3 people and a couple to reduce the rental fee, so totally there are 6 people in the room,” said Chanthy. She continued that there is no privacy in this kind of shared room, and you will never get rest from disease if one of your roommates get sick. When asked how she thrives with it, she said she had no choice besides swallowing the difficulties.

The wall that made of thinny-wooden, and the roofs covered by zinc without ceiling at all, the room could turn up to more than 40Co at day-time. “The reason why I work six days a week and add up my working hours on Sunday is not only because I want to earn more money but also I can’t stay at the room at day-time; never could I have a nap at room because it could burn me out at anytime,” she complained.

Chhum Chanthy would be happier if the smelly stuck sewage tube in front of the room could be drained. / Photo by Lim MengY However, both sunny and rainy reasons never bring good time to Chanty. She would be happier if the smelly stuck sewage tube in front of the room could be drained. “There is always flood whenever it rains because the tube is stuck, and no one here cares about it even the landlord. We worked so hard during the day, but we can’t have a good sleep at night because of floods.”

Another most difficult thing to deal with is that people living in those few hundredrental rooms in that neighborhood can only use 10 shared toilets, which never have water. She can only go to the toilet at market, which she has to pay money for it, if she wants to use toilet with proper water. “There is no water and electricity at night time. It is hard to go to toilet at night time unless I have a few friends accompanying each other.” Chanthy told. The neighborhood is described as insecurity as many of rape and stealing cases happen so often.

Another most difficult thing to deal with is that people living in those few hundred rental rooms in that neighborhood can only use 10 shared toilets, which never have water. / Photo by Lim MengY Chanthy and other workers have complained many times to the landlord about sewage, electricity and water, but what they got from the landlord is, “Everything is fit with money you rent me; if you ask for more, pay me more.”

Not so different from Chanthy, almost every garment workers are tortured by those hardships, according to Preab Marat, facilitator of WIC ‘DangKao District’. Insufficient income confines workers from meeting a basic need of living, living with hygiene and enough food and sleep. “We don’t expect to save money, but we just want to have a decent living,” said Chanthy and her roommates.

Marat added that besides trying to add up their working hours, it is hard to have their wage raised though most workers has tried to organize strikes or movements for it because they are always rejected by showing the new agreement of government and factories owners.

According to the new agreement of the government and factories owners, the minimum wage of a worker is $61—not included extra hours—this agreement will last until 2014, when the new agreement of minimum wage can be revised. So those workers have to wait until 2014 to have a decent living?

Source: Cambodiacircles.com

Puppy love good for salon business

Puppy love good for salon business

By: Lim Meng Y

An employee at Modern Dog pet shop blow-dries a puppy. Demand for cleaning, nail trimming and even pet dating services has rocketed in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Bathed, dried, draped in a pink outfit with a flower pinned to her head, a month-old poodle is ready for collection from the salon.

She belongs to pet lover San Nita, one of a growning number of Cambodians and expats who are spending hundreds of dollars on beautifying their pets. Nita takes her to the salon once a week to be groomed and dressed in clothes and accessories.

Adopting pets – especially dogs and cats – is common in the Kingdom, but Phnom Pehn has seen a surge in demand for more elaborate services and treatments ranging from nail trimming and grooming to “dating services”and funeral organisation.

Happy Dog Pet Shop in Phnom Penh, one of the city’s most-esablished dog salons, opened in 2009. Today it gets more than 80 clients a week who choose from an a extensive catalogue of treatments and services.

According to its website, staff can “find a partner for your pet” or even organise its funeral. A door-to-door service is also available.

The treatments are increasingly popular with foreigners, wealthy Cambodians and the growing middle class, according to Sok Chhay, who owns the shop.

She said: “The number of customers increases every month. The development of the county has changed people’s perceptions about their standards of living.

“Cambodians now tend to understand the importance of pets – not only for guarding houses but also as close companions for people.”

Grooming prices range from $10 to $30 depending on the condition of the coat. Most customers are from the middle or very wealthy classes and are indifferent to the cost, she said. but she also gets clients who come from poorer backgrounds.

Yang Sokny, who works at Modern Dog pet shop said that her clients bring their pets to the salon several times a week. The Phnom Penh salon opened last year and now attracts than 50 customers each week.

“Some of those 50 customers are my regular clients, who bring their pets for grooming up to three times a week,” she said.

Most of the pets brought in have been imported from abroad at great expense, and owners want to give them specialist care, she said.

Nita imported her poodle, which is worth hundreds of dollars. “Since it’s not a local puppy, I’m not familiar with its needs or way of living, so I have to get advice and service from pet shop,” she said.

Seak Keang, who often brings his 10 year-old dog to the salon to be groomed and have its nails trimmed, said the cost is worth bearing if it prevents the dog from getting fleas or ticks.

“Better care helps dogs live longer and happier lives,” he said.

Frenchman thumb-lifts his way around the world

Frenchman thumb-lifts his way around the world

By Lim Meng Y


Frenchman Jeremy Marie tries his hand at hitchiking in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Meng Kim Long/Phnom Penh Post

Last week 7Days told you the story of a Swedish man who is riding a tandem bike around the world with strangers he meets along the way.

So it only made sense that we should report on another such travelling eccentric – this time a Frenchman who has been using his thumb to hitchhike around the world.

Jeremy Marie left France in 2007 and has so far covered 156,700 kilometres through 57 countries, carried by owners of 1,529 vehicles – sailing ships, trucks, cars and more.

Rather exhausted, he took a break in Phnom Penh last week and told us his strange tale.

“Every kilometre of my traveling depends on the good will of total strangers,” Jeremy told 7Days.

The 28-year-old tourism-industry graduate knew he was taking on a huge task to circle the globe and spent a year working as waiter to save up for the trip.

He told us he has always had a dream to travel throughout the world to experience different cultures – that was the vision which drove him to start his journey.

“What really inspired me to do this is watching travel shows on TV when I was a child,’’ he says.

“I wanted to witness in reality what I had seen on TV about other countries.”

The journey began October 2007 and he plans to end his epic feat in 2013. He first left France for a tour around Europe down to Africa, North and South America, the South Pacific, New Zealand and has now arrived in Asia.

“In every country, I hitchhike to get lifts from place to place, but it’s always a long journey when I have to cross a whole continent,” he says.

He has long believed hitchhiking makes it easier to get to know local people better, and allows for better communication.

“Something special happens when strangers open the door to me, and I feel like the door opens to a new friendship for me.”

However, hitchhiking is not the done thing in some countries. “It’s hard to get a lift in developed countries because they tend to think the hitchhiker could be a criminal who could rob or murder them.”

Jeremy also found Cambodia is one of hardest countries to get a lift, as hitchhiking is not part of the culture here.

He made it to Cambodia from Thailand via the Poipet border. “I spent three hours each time to get a lift from Poipet to Battambang, Siem Reap and finally to Phnom Penh,” he says.

Besides taxis, there are few tourists driving cars in Cambodia and Jeremy has found it is fellow travellers who give him a free ride in other countries.

But what really blew Jeremy’s mind in Cambodia is the friendliness of the people and their dazzling smiles. He has often been the recipient of hospitality.

“Every time I walk past them, I see the smile on their face – the smiles that I never see in France or other parts or Europe.”

These are the kind of cultural insights he could never get from the TV shows which inspired him.

“Television portrayed people in less developing countries as poverty stricken, fighting for food, fighting in general but having been through those countries, I found something different,’’ he says.

“They are living their lives with what they have, which is definitely different from people living in a developed country – especially in France where people are more consumed by money than the meaning of life.”

Has he ever been homesick? He says no, as he has made the world his home.

Asked about his biggest challenges, Jeremy said it was languages as he only speaks English and French. He tries to learn as much as he can in each country, but “I enjoy body language – it’s fun,” he laughed.

Jeremy will leave Cambodia on August 13 for Vietnam and then up to Laos and China.

Source: 7Days Magazine, Phnom Penh Post

First Oscar bid in 18 years

By: Lim Meng Y


Mariam Arthur, head of COSC (C), poses with the film package that will be sent to the Academy. Photograph supplied

It’s been nearly two decades since the last submission Cambodia made to the Oscars.

Now the country has finally made another, and entered the film Lost Loves to the Best Foreign Language category – an historic event for Cambodia’s resurgent film industry.

After the Cambodian Oscar Selection Committee (COSC) voted unanimously to submit the historical drama Lost Loves, the story of a woman’s survival of the genocide was shipped to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on August 18.

The only other film submitted by Cambodia for consideration by the Academy was Rithy Panh’s The Rice People in 1994.

Chhay Bora, the director of Lost Loves, and his wife, who was the main actor in the film, used 15 years of personal savings to produce the film. The tale of a woman who lost many family members to the Pol Pot regime was inspired by Leave Sila, Bora’s mother-in-law.

When it was released on January 6 this year, the film was an instant hit. Due to demand, it screened consecutively for 42 days. It then continued to play on a weekend basis until April 2012.

Many Khmer Rouge survivors and those from the next generation know it as a deeply affecting film.

Mariam Arthur, the head of COSC, said that Lost Loves has the potential to to be a serious contender to win an an award thanks to strong acting and direction.

“The movie shows strong passion of a woman’s hardship during the Khmer Rouge regime. All of the production elements came together to make the audience feel the pain and joy of the main character,” says Mariam.

The film met the technical and theatrical standards required by the Academy and the directing and acting in the film met international standards, she said.

While Cambodian filmmakers produced up to 23 films last year, few met international standards, mainly due to the continued use of dubbed sound instead of actors’ original voices.

COSC feels the film could be selected at least as one of the intital five nominees, if it does not actually receive the Oscar.

Each year, the Academy is sent one film approved by participating countries’ selection committees. Out of all the submissions, the Academy selects five films as Best Foreign Language Film finalists. Academy members then vote for the winning film.

“I think that Lost Loves has a real chance of being selected because the film surely shows a new kind of film,” Arthur said.

Members of the Academy, who vote for the Oscar nominees and winners, would not take into account the box-office profit from the film, but would judge it on its academic merit, she said.

Her advice to future filmmakers is to consult COSC before producing a film, if they want to submit a film to the 2013 Academy Awards, for guidance on how to meet requirements.

“We would give filmmakers suggestions about the criteria they should fulfil. All directing, acting, cinematography, story, sound, music and theme should be consulted upon.”

7 Questions: Kouy Chandanich

7 Questions: Kouy Chandanich

By Lim Meng Y

It’s a big milestone for a 16-year-old girl, who gave up studying to earn a living as a waitress, to unexpectedly become one of the top models at Sapors Modelling Agency, a leader in the Cambodian fashion business.

120824_03Her name is Kouy Chandanich, a Phnom Penher who has made her name as a beauty in many commercials, magazines, TV campaigns and at the first Cambodia Fashion Week.

She has made the country proud, and she will feature at the International Fashion Weekin Australia this September, and will prowling the catwalk with hundreds of professional models.

How did you become a model?
I have a long tale to tell about my childhood, but let’s start with me giving up my studying at the age of 16 due to my family’s financial constraints. I always wanted to help my mother from shouldering the whole family’s tension. I worked as a waitress at a restaurant, but then I met Sapor Rendall at a housewarming party in late 2009. I was delighted to meet her, and we talked a lot about modelling. She asked me to join her agency, but I was reluctant and lacking in confidence. Fortunately we met again and she asked me again. I said yes – and my career started from that point.

What inspired you? 
TV is what inspired me the most when I was 13 or 14 years old. I was alone in front of the TV, following those international models, and everybody thought I was spooky because of that. I saw those models and they looked so beautiful; I was inspired to know that a brown-skinned girl like me could become one, and I had always wanted to be one. Sapor Rendall is another inspiration of mine. She has pushed me up to the reach for my ultimate dream and she believes in my talents.

What do you think about the Cambodian fashion industry? 
Economic and political stability has not been the only thing moving forward in our country. Last year, we had our first Fashion Week in Cambodia. It simply tells us that our modelling and fashion industry is not far behind the rest of the world. We are now recognised because many of our models have worked overseas. And surprisingly, I have been chosen to join International Fashion Week in Australia this September, which is the biggest fashion event for a Cambodian model to be able to attend. So I think we are moving forward, and I feel positive about that.

Why were you chosen to join International Fashion Week at Australia? 
I should thank Sapor Rendall for her help getting me the opportunity. The organiser of Australia International Fashion Week did not think having a model from Asia to walk at the event, but Sapor had shown off Cambodia model’s talents to the committee and they chose me.

However, it wasn’t easy. I had to meet their high requirements as well. My height, 1.72 metres, is the same as Australian models, but most importantly my brown skin and Khmer figure was different, a difference which can be crucial for a model to have.

How did you feel when you were chosen to join International Fashion Week? 
You won’t believe it, but I shouted and jumped like a kid in the market when I received my acceptance and invitation form. I felt so emotional because I will be the first model from Cambodia to walk on international runways, wearing clothes by world famous designers. Sapor and I burst into tears when we saw the Australian press coverage of our participation, saying that a Cambodian model will be a showcase on their runways. When we arrive there, we will be very excited if the Australia press watches me us on the day of the event.

Do you think your participation in International Fashion Week is good for Cambodian modelling? 
It is a golden chance for not only me, but also other Cambodians to feel proud of our models. By exhibiting my talents internationally, I hope I can get more attention from world-class designers to take a look at Cambodia so that we will be even more recognised, and I hope this chance opens the door for Cambodian models internationally. Who knows? Cambodia could be one of the top modeling countries.?

What is your future as a model? 
Since I started as a model, I have held the dream of becoming an international star. People might think it’s hard or impossible, but I can see opportunities already. My participation in International Fashion Week is a good start for me for the rest of my career.

Source: 7Days Magazine, Phnom Penh Post

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