Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dar-laing around Kampot

A copy of the Kampot Dar-laing newsletter landed on my desk today, issue # 3, so I'm a bit behind the times, but nevertheless, it's a pleasant read as it highlights what to do and where to go in and around Kampot - the lovely, sleepy riverside town in Southwest Cambodia - as well as providing info on grass roots volunteer opportunities. These include teaching English, giving your time to orphans, deaf, blind and disabled children, supporting programs that assist rural and disadvantaged people and so on. The newsletter is put together by some of the locals in Kampot and is worth getting hold of a copy. I've always enjoyed my visits to Kampot, I have friends there and hope to return again sometime soon. And if you haven't seen them, the sunsets across the river are well worth the visit - not as amazing as the sunset views at Kratie - but nevertheless, a pleasant way to while away the time at one of the riverside bars like Rikitikitavi or Rusty Keyhole. More at the Kampot Interact website here. By the way, Dar-laing means strolling and cruising - either along the riverfront or around town in the case of Kampot.
The new road to the top of Bokor Mountain - one of the main tourist sites in the area around Kampot - was inaugurated last weekend by the PM Hun Sen. The Sokha group are renovating the old casino and hotel on the top of Bokor and got the contract because they agreed to build a proper access road to the top. It's expected to take thirty months and $20 million to complete the road! The road itself winds around the mountain for 32 kms. The resort was originally built by the French in the 1920s but abandoned in the 1970s due to heavy fighting. At the moment its not really clear whether tourist access to the top will still be allowed whilst this work takes place. The renovation of the buildings at the mountain top will take place in stages and many more hotels, casinos, villas and other facilities are on the development plan for Bokor. It's all going to look very different to when I paid my first trip to Bokor in December 2000, that's a certainty.

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Jimi Lundy, the Australian-based, Khmer-born singer-songwriter popped into the office to say his goodbyes this afternoon. He's been in Cambodia for a month and leaves for his Melbourne home tomorrow. Jimmy (right) was a big hit on his last visit to Hanuman and his self-released When We Were Young single went down a storm. His hopes of playing a few gigs during his stay were shelved after he got into serious talks with a major record label and decided that the gigs and air-play on radio and television had better wait for his next visit. When there's something concrete to report, you'll hear it here. In the meantime, listen to Jimi at his myspace site.

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