Survivor Comes To Cambodia




Having lived in Cambodia for over 15 years, I know plenty of real ‘survivors‘.

I’m not 100% comfortable with Cambodia repackaged as a slick media showtoasted by the powers that be.

Ah well. If you want to see more about the real Cambodia, try the films by actual Cambodians:  Rithy PanhKalyanee Mam, so many more.

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten is making waves; I’m happy we have The Last Reel up for an Oscar.

I should withhold my snarky comments until the show is done and dusted. My nieces love it.

BarCamp 2008 Photos

Due to a recent talk to drum up interest in Barcamp Phnom Penh 2015, I’ve dredged up some old photos:

BarCamp Sticker

Looking back to Cambodia’s very first BarCamp (Sept 2008), following on the heels of our 2007 Blogger summit.


BarCamp Phnom Penh

As with the prior meeting, we were amazed regarding the enthusiasm, as many people came from near and far.   Microsoft Presentation - BarCamp Phnom Penh  


Opening talk in Khmerlish by sponsor Microsoft. They also handed out shirts with their logo which one of our participants quietly noted were a knockoff of a global brand (Izod, I think?)  




One Laptop Per Child - BarCamp Phnom PenhBarCamp Phnom Penh


‘One Laptop Per Child’

Thomas Wanhoff: Twitter - BarCamp Phnom Penh

Thomas Wanhoff on Twitter  


Bart Geesink - Low Power Computing - BarCamp Phnom Penh

Bart Geesink: Low Power Computing


Kindle - BarCamp Phnom Penh

  Huy Eng & Makara from sponsor House32 check out a newfangled Kindle.       kill-your-email
Yours truly on how to ‘Kill Your Email’.


How to Speak Japanese - BarCamp Phnom Penh 


“How to Speak Japanese”  

Angilee Shah on writing - BarCamp Phnom Penh
Angilee Shah on Writing



BarCamp Phnom Penh

‘The Usual Suspects’. I can spot Tharum, Chantra; who else?

At the very end, a quiet attendee raised his hand and praised the gathering. He was from one of Cambodia’s Ministries, I believe it was the Ministry of Interior. It was not clear if he was attending in a private or public capacity. But that’s Cambodia for you. ;)

Barcamp Poster

Full album:

General Amusement



@john_weeks @erikwdavis This would work here judging by the guys I see staring at their phones at MOD every day

— Paul James Harper (@pauljamesharper) September 16, 2015



A tidbit courtesy Silong Chhun.

In the 1980s and 1990s, there were weren’t so many books and films about contemporary Southeast Asia in the West.

To be considered a scholar of Cambodian history, the first step was to simply read everything on the topic. And there wasn’t that much explicitly about the country or the area. It was simply “read everything, watch everything”.

Today I’m pleased to observe that’s not entirely possible. There are many more books, publications, films, comics and music. And many more in the voices of Cambodians themselves.

This is a cheesy Disney TV movie. Those who can speak Khmer won’t hear much of it. But as people have pointed out, it was an attempt to show real-world situations, and one of the very first opportunities for Khmers to recognize themselves in the media.

Additional background:,,20093030,00.html

A lazy Sunday afternoon. I’d just finished a yogurt shake at the Blue Pumpkin and was strolling off my topor on the riverside. In jeans and a t-shirt, I look like any other foreigner, possibly a tourist.

“Hello!” hailed the fake monk.

He didn’t realize I’d met his type before. New face, same outfit and scheme.

In Cambodia, real monks don’t solicit money in English from tourists.

Nor do they wear socks.
I whipped out my smartphone to take a picture.
“NO!” he shouted, and ducked into a nearby shop.

I was waiting as he came out – shouting ‘No!’ again.

And tried to ask another foreigner for money.

He quickly backed off seeing me still there, taking pictures.
Something to hide?

He was quite upset at the camera, but seemed to realize it would have been un-monk-like to grab it.

He hurried off down the street for easier targets. I waved at him as he looked back.

I would like to suggest a hash tag for tracking these scammers: #fakemonkPP
Sound good?

Addendum May 02:
The following weekend, I was having lunch and spotted another ‘monk’. He was politely escorted out of the café.
Note how the security guy takes off his hat and regains from touching him. Looking like a monk gets you the deference accorded to a monk.

But this ‘monk’ was not polite in turn. He was quite (physically) insistent that I delete the video I’d taken with my phone.

He even managed to get in the door again, and tried to indicate that the video I’d taken should be deleted. However, he could not express this sentiment in Khmer, despite repeated attempts to engage him.

He did slap down a Chinese language document (and emphatically pointed at it), seemingly as a way to indicate that he was legitimate.
Perhaps he is a member of a Buddhist organization, and dresses like a monk to accentuate it.
(I didn’t get a photo of this: he was quite angry and could have grabbed my phone.)

The heart of the issue (for me) is that something just doesn’t seem right. These guys are too ‘professional’. There are lots of people in need, and I’d prefer to see my donation go to someone who truly needs it.

So… what kind of monastic order accepts monks who are aggressive in their behavior and is sending them to Phnom Penh?
Why are these monks getting into restaurants while ordinary (and obviously) Khmer street beggars are firmly kept out?
Keep your camera phone handy.

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