Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Some new pictures from Cambodia

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cambodian Artists Respond to Phnom Penh’s Rapid Urbanization

Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh, was once known as the “Paris of the East” for its resemblance to the famous European city. During French colonial rule, Phnom Penh boasted spacious villas with French courtyards that were homes and reception venues to both the wealthy French and Khmers.

The mansions and villas are now faded memories of the city's former grandeur before it was left in shambles from the Khmer Rouge regime. Many of these former symbols of sophistication and wealth are now abandoned and waiting to be demolished to make way for skyscrapers.
Skyscrapers are Cambodia's new symbols of prosperity and modernity. While the city skyline is still largely spartan, all that is about to change, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen endorsing the construction of more skyscrapers in the city by Korean and Chinese contractors.
But this push toward a modern city has a cost in lost history, vanishing natural areas and evictions. 
To increase the development, the government has recently filled in Boeung Kak Lake, which is located in the heart of the city, and evicted thousands of households living in the surrounding areas.
The ensuing controversy has prompted a movement among Cambodian artists and photographers to respond to the rapid urbanization of Phnom Penh.
Going against the tide, this group is concerned with the rapid urbanization of Phnom Penh and the mass demolition of its colonial-influenced buildings. In response, they have created and exhibited works to comment on the issue.
Erin Gleeson, a curator and researcher who has lived in Cambodia for a decade, said there is a strong pattern among Cambodian artists to document and archive the city's landscape, with the anticipation that it could become unrecognizable in years to come.
“Almost 80% of the local artists in advanced practices are committedly making commentaries on the rapid urbanization of Cambodia. These local artists are responding to the change in their lifestyles, culture and environment and some of them are also expressing their personal experiences as they are also residents near the lake that is now vanished,” she said.
Gleeson added that this movement of artists is not pre-planned, but the works seen so far have turned out to be a cohesive collection that presents a similar view.
“Phnom Penh is a flat city, and has never been a concrete city. But, as it develops, the artists here mourn for the loss of that landscape that they are so used to. It is an irony, as we feel that some things are dying, even though the city is growing,” she said.
Among the artists that have prominent works on the subject include Kim Hak, a photography artist that has exhibited several projects in and out of Cambodia, mainly on people living in and among colonial buildings in Phnom Penh.
“More often than not, a new building or skyscraper is constructed at the expense of existing buildings that have historical and social values, including schools and hospitals. I believe that the colonial buildings should co-exist with the new ones, instead of changing Phnom Penh's landscape entirely,” he said.
Another artist, Khvay Samnang, has worked extensively in producing art works to express his views on the vanishing lakes in Phnom Penh's city centre. He has recently exhibited a series of photographs of himself standing in the middle of the now-gone Boeung Kak lake and pouring earth over his body as the shot was being taken.
“My work is for the people. I use my body to react towards the loss of lakes situated in the heart of the city. I am not trying to change the government's mind about how they should develop this country but rather, I am expressing my experience of this loss and be critical about this issue,” he said.
Khvay said he is not against the government developing the land in Phnom Penh. But, he says it has to be done with proper urban planning. “Filling the lake with earth will result in environmental consequences such as increased floods in Cambodia in future years,” he explained.
Responses to these artists' work have been encouraging. Kim said his photographs of colonial architecture have helped raise awareness of preserving some heritage monuments. “When these photographs are exhibited in Phnom Penh, UNESCO wanted to use some of them as exhibits to discuss with the government on preserving these buildings,” he said.
Gleeson said the local artistic community did not produce art works to quickly change people's minds, but rather to engage with the community. “In their own individual ways, these artists want to be initiators of conversations, and not want to let things pass without saying something,” she said.

Cambodia Is Now Open for Business: Richard Stanger

Resource investors are always looking for the next untapped region and Richard Stanger thinks he has found it. President and founder of the Cambodian Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Stanger has been working to get the word out about Cambodia, a growing, stable country with the right geology for some big discoveries. In this interview with The Gold Report, Stanger gives an insider's view of the secrets to investing in Cambodia and explains why he's expecting a land rush.
The Gold Report: Cambodia's gross domestic product (GDP) is roughly $13.2 billion (B) annually, or around $1,000 a person, according to the Association for Southeast Asian Nations. It's clearly an impoverished nation, but until the last few years, the country has done little to develop its mineral wealth. Why?
Richard Stanger: Mainly because there was almost no information available about the geology of the country. Most of it was destroyed during the civil war. The country is a bit of a secret. People don't know much about Cambodia, or, in some cases, even where it is located. The infrastructure was pretty poor until recently. Roads were very difficult to travel. Telecommunications were really undeveloped. There was almost no infrastructure available for exploration.
TGR: How did you find your way to Cambodia?
RS: I was looking for a country that had the right geological setting and a good government with a legal system that is workable. Cambodia fit that bill.
TGR: What is the country's current GDP growth rate?
RS: It's averaging about 6.5% at the moment. I believe that it will be significantly higher this year. It may be double-digits.
TGR: What metals and minerals is Cambodia prospective for?
RS: It's one of those countries where there are not many outcrops. It's not so easy to walk around in the rocks and find things, but they're there. There's a lot of sediment covering the country. However, the country is very prospective for gold, copper and base metals, iron ore and other industrial metals such as zirconium, graphite and titanium. It covers a wide range.
TGR: What would tempt junior mining companies to invest and explore for metals there?
RS: The key to the country is that it's open for business and has a stable, committed government that wants to develop the economy. There is an economic and legal framework for companies and foreign investors to come and work. The country has great financial controls. It's easy to move money in and out of Cambodia.
The people are really excellent—honest, welcoming and hard working. I can't say enough about them. It's a very safe country. The operating costs are low. There is rapidly developing infrastructure, as well as infrastructure specifically related to the mining exploration industry. There are a number of drilling companies and geological services here.
TGR: Are there any assay labs?
RS: Two recently opened.
TGR: Going back 5 to 10 years, Cambodia is similar to what country?
RS: Some people keep saying Colombia, however Mongolia is a really good comparison. I went to Mongolia fairly early. Nothing actually happened there for five years and then it just started booming.
TGR: After decades of civil war, Cambodia is slowly finding its feet and has established democratic elections under a constitutional monarchy. However, according to Transparency International, Cambodia is the fourth most corrupt nation in the world. What are your thoughts on that?
RS: As an investor, I don't understand that rating at all. I'm kind of perplexed about it, really. That rating is purely perceptual and it's non-empirical. I actually think they just flat out got it wrong. And I'm not the only person that would say that.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Angkor Wat

Angkor (Khmer: អង្គរ) is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara (नगर), meaning "city". The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a "universal monarch" and "god-king", until 1351, when Angkor first fell under Ayutthayan suzainry, to 1431, when Ayutthaya put down a rebellion and sacked the Khmer capital, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.

The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonlé Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern-day Siem Reap (13°24′N, 103°51′E), in Siem Reap Province, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together, they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Visitor numbers approach two million annually.

In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an elaborate system of infrastructure connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres (390 sq mi) to the well-known temples at its core. The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres (39 and 58 sq mi) in total size. Although its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

King Jayavarman VII of Cambodia

Jayavarman VII (Khmer: ជ័យវរ្ម័នទី៧, 1125–1200) was a king (reigned c.1181-1200) of the Khmer Empire in present day Siem Reap, Cambodia. He was the son of King Dharanindravarman II (r. 1150-1160) and Queen Sri Jayarajacudamani. He married Jayarajadevi and then, after her death, married her sister Indradevi. The two women are commonly thought to have been a great inspiration to him, particularly in his unusual devotion to Buddhism, as only one prior Khmer king was a Buddhist.

Cambodia-Asia Economic Forum kicks off

PHNOM PENH: The 8th Asia Economic Forum kicked off here on Saturday, focusing on reviewing the ASEAN achievements in the past 45 years and looking at opportunities and challenges toward the realization of an ASEAN community by 2015.
The 2-day forum has been attending by some 300 economists, academics, researchers, and policy makers from Asian countries, Xinhua reported.
Haruhisa Handa, advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and chairman of Asia Economic Forum, said the forum, under the theme " ASEAN in the Evolving Regional Architecture: Opportunities, Challenges and Future Direction", aimed at examining how ASEAN has been able to develop and transform itself in the past 45 years of its existence.
It would also look at ways to enhance ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture and identify ASEAN’s future priorities and challenges toward the realization of an ASEAN community by 2015, he said.
Moreover, the forum would deliberate on how ASEAN can strategically best engage its dialogue partners in the coming years, and at the same time to play a positive role in its relations with the major powers in the region.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance, said the ASEAN has made tremendous progress in all areas of cooperation in the last forty-five years, but challenges are still ahead toward a community.
"Since its inception in 1967, the ASEAN has not only accelerated the pace of diplomatic prominence, the rise of its profile internationally, but has also had a great impact on major power relations in the region and the wider world," he said. "The bloc has achieved many goals, but with those successes, it does not mean there are no challenges."
He said ASEAN needed to strengthen its participatory capacity in global solution cooperation reflecting the contribution of ASEAN to global affairs, in which prestige and role of ASEAN will be further enhanced at international arena.
Those global affairs include economic crisis, climate change, natural disaster management, prevention and combat of contagious disease as well as fighting against crime and cross border terrorism, he said.
In addition, the minister said, ASEAN has to speed up the process of dividing development gap among ASEAN member countries, which is prerequisite requirement to ensure regional competitiveness and rationalization of regional integration and implementation of action plan of ASEAN integration initiatives.
"ASEAN is an important player in the region among other successful organizations in the world. I strongly believe that ASEAN community will be realized in next two years," he said.
The forum was founded in 2004 by a Japanese Haruhisa Handa, advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and president of International Foundation for Arts and Culture,and has been held every year in Cambodia, organized by the University of Cambodia and sponsored by the International Foundation for Arts and Culture.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Successful International Auction Raises Hopes for Cambodia's Artists

Cambodia has held its first international art auction, with the backing of the well-known art house, Christie’s. Though Khmer antiquities are highly sought-after on the global stage, the country’s modern art remains relatively unknown.

Madeleine de Langalerie has watched the country’s art scene slowly grow over the last decade and a half. When the French journalist first moved there about 15 years ago, she saw talent in the work of young artists, but originality was more difficult to find.

“I think at the very beginning they try to copy, because it is the only thing to do," Langalerie said. "But with the television, with the influence of the outside, of Thai, of Vietnamese, of Japan, mainly Japanese, I think they start to see other things.”

These days, new boutique galleries have sprung up throughout the city, showing homegrown work by local talent. A handful of Cambodian artists are already gaining notice abroad.

But what many young artists need is an extra push for international buyers to take notice.

That was the idea behind staging an international art auction here in Phnom Penh. On March 11, an auctioneer from Christie’s presided over the country’s first high-level art auction. Proceeds from the charity auction will be donated to a local arts group.

But de Langalerie says the real value will be the exposure for the country’s lesser known artists and the local galleries that support them.

“I think this push should be in help to try and put Phnom Penh as a good place for artists," she said. "If you think about artists, maybe you should come and see galleries in Phnom Penh.”

Artists like painter Peap Tarr stand to benefit. The Cambodian-New Zealander has two collaborative works for sale, including an intricately detailed acrylic-on-canvas piece measuring more than four square meters.

Tarr started out as a graffiti artist in in New Zealand, where he grew up. But he gradually began to fuse styles and elements from his Cambodian ancestry into his work.

“There is a uniqueness that comes out of Cambodia. There is a long heritage," Tarr explained. "Over a 1,000 year heritage here of art and culture. Hopefully people will learn that. In some ways I think it gains more respect for the Khmer culture. And also I think it gives back more pride to the Khmer people. Culture and art, it does in some way give culture and dignity back to a people.”

On this afternoon, the busy hotel ballroom is almost full, but most are onlookers watching as a handful of buyers bid on the artwork. At the front of the room, auctioneer Lionel Gosset playfully encourages the buyers to inflate their bids.

The crowd applauds as the most sought after piece, a large morning glory plant sculpted in rattan wood, sells for $9,000.

By the end of the afternoon, buyers have snapped up about 40 works of art, at a cost of $40,000 in all. Gosset says, it is a promising sign for the Cambodian art scene.

“I think the room was crowded. It's a good signal for Cambodia. That means that Khmer are very interested by art," Gosset said. "And the results are good. It's a good result.”

For painter Lisa Mam, it was the first time she has sold her work at auction. She says she wants to show that her country’s artists are able to fuse their well-known traditional art with a new vitality.

“Cambodian art would be something really fresh," Mam declared. "Just like what I’m doing right now is fresh and new. We're trying to take the art of the ancient time and also the modern society to come together and create something new.”

For now, Mam wants to use the exposure from the auction as a springboard for her career. And she hopes her work will play a role in growing Cambodia’s modern art scene.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Introducing Cambodia

There’s a magic about Cambodia that casts a spell on many who visit this charming yet confounding kingdom. Ascend to the realm of the gods at the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat, a spectacular fusion of symbolism, symmetry and spirituality. Descend into the hell of Tuol Sleng and come face to face with the Khmer Rouge and its killing machine. Welcome to the conundrum that is Cambodia: a country with a history both inspiring and depressing, an intoxicating place where the future is waiting to be shaped.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cambodian Pre-history

There is some sparse evidence for a Pleistocene human occupation of present day Cambodia, which includes quartz and quartzite pebble tools found in terraces along the Mekong River, inStung Treng and Kratié provinces, and in Kampot Province, although their dating is unreliable.[9]
Some slight archaeological evidence shows communities of hunter-gatherers inhabited Cambodia during Holocene: the most ancient Cambodian archeological site is considered to be the cave ofL'aang Spean, in Battambang Province, which belongs to the so-called Hoabinhian period. Excavations in its lower layers produced a series of radiocarbon dates as of 6000 BC.[9][10]
Upper layers in the same site gave evidence of transition to Neolithic, containing the earliest dated earthenware ceramics in Cambodia[11]
Archeological records for the period between Holocene and Iron Age remain equally limited. Other prehistoric sites of somewhat uncertain date are Samrong Sen (not far from the ancient capital ofUdong), where the first investigations began in 1877,[12] and Phum Snay, in the northern province of Banteay Meanchey.[13] Prehistoric artifacts are often found during mining activities inRatanakiri.[9]
The most outstanding prehistoric evidence in Cambodia however are probably various "circularearthworks", discovered in the red soils near Memot and in the adjacent region of Vietnam as of the end of the 1950s. Their function and age are still debated, but some of them possibly date from 2nd millennium BC at least.[14][15]
A pivotal event in Cambodian prehistory was the slow penetration of the first rice farmers from the north, which began in the late 3rd millennium BC.[16]
Iron was worked by about 500 BC, with supporting evidence coming from the Khorat Plateau, in modern day Thailand. In Cambodia, some Iron Age settlements were found beneath Angkorian temples, like Baksei Chamkrong. Others were circular earthworks, like Lovea, a few kilometers north-west of Angkor. Burials, much richer, testify to improvement of food availability and trade (even on long distances: in the 4th century BC trade relations with India were already opened) and the existence of a social structure and labor organization.[16]

The gate of Bayon temple

This is Indic style temple, located at Siemreap province of Cambodia. It is interesting for tourists from many country on the world.

Farm land

Cambodia is an agriculture country. There are a lot of land for farming.