Thursday, April 30, 2009

Khmer Rouge Trial and How We Move Forward

{Khmer Rouge Memorial Display of Skulls, Entry to Memorial, and a Cambodian man taking my nephew Jaxson to see the marketplace ~ a symbolic photo of moving forward hand in hand with those who know and those learning}


There is so much extensive information on the Khmer Rouge and current trial that I thought it best to present this topic through a question and answer form where the questions are the most important to Cambodians and non-Cambodians wanting to understand more. Answers are directly quoted from their source. I will try my best to accurately place the answers in context. This posting will continue to grow as we learn more and there will be questions that currently do not have an answer. Please feel free to add questions and answers and also your thoughts.

***

Why and how did the Khmer Rouge come to Power?
Economic disparity and corruption helped give rise to the Khmer Rouge.

Khmer Rouge Trial: Why has it taken 30 years?
Cambodia originally asked the United Nations and international community to help set up a tribunal into the genocide more than a decade ago.

A joint tribunal was finally set up in 2006 following long drawn-out negotiations between the Phnom Penh government and the UN.

Bail hearings, appeals and pre-trial procedures have contributed to further delays.
~BBC News from Landmark Khmer Rouge trial starts

Almost three decades after they committed their crimes, putting the Khmer Rouge on trial is still exceedingly difficult and political. It is difficult because of Cambodia’s weak judicial system and lack of proper evidence. It is political because many current government officials were in some way or another involved as part of the Khmer Rouge regime and former Khmer Rouge leaders still possess critical influence regarding the balance of power between leading and opposition parties.

How do Cambodians want to deal with the Khmer Rouge trial?
Based on the survey of Cambodians conducted by the author in June 1997 of twenty-five Cambodians from varied socio-economic strata, 7 [s]even recurring themes arose within the interviews conducted. First, Cambodians want peace. After decades of war, many of those interviewed would not support a tribunal if it led to further instability and unrest. Second, the interviewees want to know the full truth about the Khmer Rouge era. The Khmer Rouge regime was so secretive that many Cambodians do not know who was ultimately responsible for the genocidal acts; these facts must be established so that Cambodians can put the past behind them. Third, the question of responsibility for violent crimes committed under orders and/or duress surfaced repeatedly. Fourth, the interviewees want to know who exactly backed the Khmer Rouge--that is, who or which countries supported the regime both directly and indirectly. Fifth, in regard to the question of amnesty, the interviewees held a vast array of opinions. On the one hand, Buddhism and the goal of national reconciliation point to leniency. On the other hand, the crimes committed were so heinous that many interviewees believe that the Khmer Rouge must be punished. Sixth, a state of law must be established in Cambodia. Finally, education is absolutely vital for Cambodia to move toward its purported goals.
~ Jaya Ramji, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs from Reclaiming Cambodian History: The Case for a Truth Commission

What format is the Khmer Rouge being tried?
Top five leaders of the Khmer Rouge are prosecuted in a UN backed tribunal for 1.7 million deaths of Cambodians from 1975 to 1979.

Is there a truth commission that many Cambodians had suggested in conjunction with the tribunal? {I still searching for the answer}

What is currently happening in the trial?
Kaing Guek Eav - more commonly known as "Duch" - who was in charge of the dreaded S21 detention center is the first to be prosecuted. The tribunal is held in Phnom Penh.

What is expected to be gained?
This new hybrid, national-international tribunal was expected to accomplish three things:
First, it should bring justice to those who died and help those who survived to release their suffering.
Second, it should strengthen the rule of law by judging and punishing the criminals in fair and open trials. It should be a model marking the end of impunity and the beginning of law enforcement in Cambodia, and serve as a deterrent to all who contemplate such inhuman behavior in Cambodia or in the world.
Third, it should educate the people of Cambodia and raise awareness about this darkest chapter in the country's history, especially among the young generation. Ultimately, this would lead to the reconstruction of the society as a whole.
~ Chak Sopheap, UPI Asia.com from Khmer rouge Trials will not bring justice

What will most likely be the outcome?
[O]nly local leaders and a few high-level leaders that were directly involved in the genocide will be sentenced, while many others will go unpunished. It
is doubtful if justice and the rule of law will prevail.
~ Chak Sopheap, UPI Asia.com from Khmer rouge Trials will not bring justice

Given Cambodia's current political climate, with its lack of respect for human rights and failure to govern by rule of law, the United States should be applauded for steadfastly refusing to participate in the upcoming Khmer Rouge trials. Prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia will be at best a demonstration of hypocrisy by current leaders of Cambodia and at worst an opportunity for the current regime, a vestige of both the Khmer Rouge itself and communist Vietnam, to rewrite history.

Closure for Khmer Rouge victims is often cited as one of the primary reasons for pushing forward what even most proponents readily admit is a flawed tribunal structure. But is prosecution of past tyrants worth the precedent it sets for Cambodians concerning the absolute power of their current tyrant? The United States has correctly answered in the negative and holds fast to her principle that the future of Cambodia's democracy should not be sold out for a mere show trial. Rather than teaching Cambodians respect for the rule of law and human rights, such a trial will instead reinforce the resignation of Cambodians to living under rule of dictatorship. A show trial of the Khmer Rouge orchestrated by Hun Sen will not only do disservice to victims of the Khmer Rouge, but also to the current and future victims of Hun Sen's authoritarian regime.
~Khmer Institute from Closure at What Cost?

How do we move forward?
In order to move forward, Cambodia must establish a clear picture of the past so that all Cambodians have a stake in upholding its future.
~ Jaya Ramji, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs from Reclaiming Cambodian History: The Case for a Truth Commission

***

Thanks to everyone for taking the 30 day journey with me to embrace the culture of Cambodia. I have learned so much and will continue to learn and get involved with making its future exceed expectation. I am hopeful.

xoxo

Learning from the "Living in Cambodia" Interviews

{Battambang City, Cambodia. Kids returning home from school.}

After reading the responses of Cambodians in the Living in Cambodia interviews, the questions I asked them revealed to me that they'd emerged from my Western mentality and were full of misconceptions. Forgive me. I am learning.

Misconception #1 The state of the country is so bad or it's so much better in a Western country that when one has the chance to work or live somewhere other than Cambodia they wouldn't hesitate to move even if they were from a well-to-do family. I honestly thought it would just be similar to many young American graduates who itch to live in Europe or Asia to experience a different culture. The responses of these Cambodians give me some assurance that there is hope for the future of Cambodia. In addition to Khmer people having a pride for their country and possessing an enduring quality, the educated and well-to-do youth are needed to stay and become active citizens for change.
~
Misconception #2 Women are not treated equally in the school or workplace. This misconception revealed assures me that Cambodia can be a great nation again. I am not a feminist but it's so important that people working to make a difference should not be stopped because of any prejudice. Daly, Maddy, and Lyda all had working mothers contributing to the household income. In my further research of the topic, the role of women in Khmer society and the family has actually been much more significant than many may know. Even in ancient times, women worked as astronomers, doctors, judges and even the king's bodyguards. Compared to her husband, the women actually were more active and ambitious in society and business. Her voice was heard and revered. In the scenario of the husband and wife differing in a decision, the woman had the final decision.
~
Misconception #3 It's possible to succeed in Cambodia with little money and connections. This question came from Stuart Isett's photo essay on the deportation topic posted earlier this month. A large percentage of deportees are living in poverty and will likely stay in poverty because they come with no money and no real connections. Now the question is can we change that?
***
"Knowing others is Intelligent;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.

Mastering others is power;

Mastering yourself is true strength."

~ from Professor Sar Sarun article The Khmer Mentality

The Architecture of Cambodia

Welcome today’s guest contributor James, a fellow architect here at Formus who has researched a topic I surprisingly knew very little about. His research has renewed my pride for my beautiful country Cambodia.

***

{Phnom Penh Royal Palace, motif seen on many buildings and Phnom Penh Monument}

When you think about the French Quarter, most people think of New Orleans in the States, but did you know there is a French Quarter in Phnom Penh, Cambodia? Not surprising since the French had control over the country for many years. The French not only played a role in the architecture of the country, but claimed responsibility for the discovery of Angkor Wat, the largest religious based architecture in the world. Angkor Wat has also been named as the eighth Wonder of the World. You can read more about Angkor Wat further down on this site. The mystery of how Angkor Wat was lost is not so much a mystery to the locals. It was never lost. Locals in the region knew it was there, they just didn’t want the world to know, who could blame them. The architectural heritage of the entire country was at risk from wars, looters, invaders, and nature.

Cambodia has seen the rise and fall of building construction for centuries. Historical architectural styles present today in Cambodia often have roots that were developed by not only the French, but interestingly, India and China. French we can understand. They occupied the country for a long time, but how did India and China get involved?

On the whole, Cambodia was considered a poor under developed country, yet we have scattered areas of great development which brings us back to India and China. When you look at the earth, you will notice that Cambodia is in the center of a region of heavy trade by sea. For centuries Cambodia was the rest stop for all sea travelers, and in particular, India and China. Without modern technology to power these ships, the sailors had to rely on both wind and currents to get them to their destinations. Sometimes their stop could last for months and often six months or more. The influence of India and China began to show itself not only along the coast, but further inland to cities such as Phnom Penh as it spread throughout the country.

Sea travelers from neighboring islands also played a minor role in the influence of architecture. Scattered throughout the capital city of Phnom Penh you will find unusual architectural gems that have endured the great building boom of 1953 just after the independence, and later the wraith of the Khmer Rouge that tried to destroy all Cambodian history and its people. The Phnom Penh post office plaza abounds with examples from the heyday of Indochina from the Grand Hotel and villas to colonial police stations. Turn a few corners head toward the river and suddenly you’ll find a 120 year old Chinese temple tucked away just beyond lines of laundry drying in the hot sun.


{Architectural principles diagram of Cambodia}


Direct your path down along the old French Quarter, a smart colonial urban design scheme with green belts and there you have the century old National Library {see photo above} with it’s ornate carved wood panels, still in daily use today.



Then you will see the incredible Raffles Le Royal Hotel {see photo above} and various other structures from different centuries. Turn around and you will see the ‘new’ architecture from the boom of 1953 when over 1,300 structures were built in only two decades. The new Khmer Architectural style that is truly Cambodian. What we have in one city is a tapestry of all the architectural history of Cambodia, from Buddhist Temples, Chinese Temples, villas, French buildings, styles from India, the new Khmer architecture, a mix of western architecture creating a diverse blend. An architectural crossroads if you will.

Today, Cambodia is experiencing a new boom, a boom that surpasses any other in the history of the country. See John’s discussion further in this site. A new Cambodia is rising not only from the ashes of war and foreign control, but from within. Groups such as the Khmer Rouge that actually emptied the city of Phnom Penh in the late 1970’s have left scars upon the land, architecture, history and sadly the lives of a great people. Recovery will take time and just as the diverse architecture of Cambodia enriches the lives of millions, so does the people of Cambodia enrich the world and make this a better place to live.

***

Thanks James! Your talent and kindness far exceed anyone I've met and I appreciate all you've done to help the 30 Days of Hope.




{Big house next to little house, Battambang, Cambodia, 2005}

Living In Cambodia: Part 3

{Auction Item: Cambodian Script. Photo taken with toy camera to add effect of light leaks vignette. }
Click on photo to bid.


Welcome today's guest contributor Lyda, Daly's friend who also grew up in Cambodia with both parents in the business world. Below she answers the same questions posed to Daly about her thoughts on living in Cambodia and she doesn't hold back.

***
Describe your typical week.
School - gym - homework - friends.

What are you studying and why?
Singapore American school because it has one of the best AP art programs and it's awesome.

Will you stay in Cambodia to work or continue your education?
I will definitely stay in Cambodia once I’m done with school.

What other places are you looking to live?
I don't want to live anywhere else permanently.

What is it like being a woman in the work or school environment? Do you think you are treated equally to men?
In my school, women are treated equal. In Cambodia however, men are still viewed as being superior to women, which is ridiculous because most Cambodian men are a bunch of ugly pig-headed idiots.

What is your knowledge of the Khmer Rouge history and the Khmer Rouge trial happening right now?
I don't know much about the Khmer Rouge, just stories told by my grandmother.

Would you be a different person if you grew up in a Western country such as the U.S. instead of Cambodia?
Yes, I think my morale would be entirely different if I was brought up in a western country.

Do you find that it is hard to succeed in Cambodia when you are raised in a place or family of little money?
It is almost impossible to succeed if your family has no money or connections in Cambodia. Scholarships are available but not sufficient and scholastics tests are unfair because our education system is corrupt.

Do you have anything else about Cambodia that you want people to know that you don't think they already do?
CAMBODIANS ARE SEXY BEASTS!!!! haha. oh and we're not Thai's or Vietnamese for God's sake.

***

Thanks Lyda!

If you have other questions you would like to ask, post them in the comments or email me at sophorn@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Memphis Music Spotlight: An Interview with Billie Worley

{print and cut out your very own Candy Company moustache above}

I didn’t mention before in our weekend wrap-up that the highlight of the Trolley Tour was hanging out with Billie Worley and the folks at the Memphis Music Foundation. Billie is one of the performers for the 30 Days of Hope Benefit Concert, tomorrow night, Thursday, April 30 at Nocturnal. He will be performing an acoustic set specially put together for our benefit concert. Don’t miss it!

Other than music, Billie works as an associate producer for a commercial production company called 1049 Productions making both local and regional commercials for a variety of clients. Some have included: MATCU, Tunica CVB, MPD, The Daily News, and the Kroc Center. Click here to see the 1049 Productions work. Just click Directors and enjoy.

Billie also worked as a TV and movie actor in Los Angeles until he married a Memphian who returned to Memphis to work with the Memphis Music Foundation, which supports local musicians with business resources and a network of passionate music supporters. Some of his work in film and TV include “Early Edition” as a long running character Patrick Quinn, ER guest appearance, and Ed Wood's I Woke Up Early the Day I Died. He is also involved behind the camera with the most recent work as assistant director for a Memphis film
The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306.

Below he answers some similar questions to ones posed to Memphis Jones.

***
"I get the feeling that Memphis doesn’t care what the world thinks. We are going to do what we do and that’s it. "

Describe your path into music and performing and path to forming the band Billie Worley and the Candy Company.
I started playing music at 9 in the school band. I originally played drums and worked my way from the snare drum to playing Timpani and the full drum set in high school. I moved to Los Angeles at 20 to pursue an acting career and in the down time I decided to teach myself guitar. To tell the truth I was tired of being in the back on drums and thought I would do better out front, sort of an ego maniac right? But I really caught the bug to perform when I had the opportunity to tour with a friend of mine. He was the lead singer of a band named Candlebox, which had a couple of hit songs in the 90’s. I played the encores with the band on rhythm guitar and was absolutely sold on playing more. The immediate response from fans is something that always was very fulfilling to me as a performer. Even while I was acting in TV shows and Films in LA, doing plays was always much more satisfying. For me performing is a give and take with the audience and without them it’s a total vacuum.

How would you describe the band and its music?
The band is really 2 things. First I wanted to have a band that had great songs and played those songs exceptionally well. Second I wanted to make sure we were also entertaining. Being an actor I had to throw in some theatrics and being someone who loves silent films, especially the comedies I had to punch up our performance somehow. Thus I introduced the Moustache and black eye to sort of create a character like the Tramp. Although I wanted my creation to be a bit ambiguous, is he the Hero or is he the Villain. It sounds a bit heady but I think image is as important as the music, but mostly I want to Rock!!

How has living in Memphis contributed to you as a musician?
Amazingly…in fact before I moved here 5 years ago, I would never have called myself a musician. I just wasn’t good enough. Seeing and experiencing the best live music in the country and meeting those musicians has made me raise the bar on myself. It really is in the water down here.

I have always been curious about Memphis being such a significant city in the history of music and what significance it is currently contributing to the global music world. Where do you think Memphis stands in that regard? Do you see Memphis lacking anything to achieve that?
I think that globally it is important. The music from the 50-70’s influenced the entire world. Everywhere I go if I mention I am from Memphis people freak out. They want to know what it’s like, who you know, who have you seen play. It’s great, and I have real pride living here and spread the word on Memphis everywhere I go. As for modern music here in town, I think we are as talented as ever. There are so many great bands, singers, musicians, and they cross every genre of music, but as someone who is not from here looking in, I have to say I get the feeling that Memphis doesn’t care what the world thinks. We are going to do what we do and that’s it. I think with a little help from the city and a few non –profits, like the Memphis Music Foundation, we can be that beacon of great music in the world again.

If you had the choice, would you do music full time?
Yes…I love music and I love playing for people. Trying to create a moment together as performer and audience is job #1.

What other things do you enjoy doing that may or may not involve music?
I have a 4 year old daughter, and playing with her on the playground or making up songs with her or getting an ice cream and talking about the world from her point of view, pretty much cannot be topped. I also play golf and at one time as a teen wanted to go pro, but now love to get out and enjoy a few hours of relaxation/frustration!!

Can you share what experiences in acting helped you evolve into a musician if it did? Why did you make the transition? Do you plan on any TV or film projects in the future?
Acting helped tremendously. What acting taught me was to make strong choices and believe in them. Commit fully to yourself as an artist and do not let anyone try to tell you different. Confidence, now that is not to say not to try and learn as much as you can and be open to other ideas and thoughts. It is very important as both an actor and a musician to stay open to anything. You will be surprised where you find inspiration and the more avenues you have to pull from the better artist you will be. I made the transition for a couple of reasons; first, I was a musician in the beginning. Music helped me as a punk kid get thru weird times. I always seem to turn to my favorite albums when things didn’t make sense to me and music just goes deep and right to the point for me. Another reason was performing is a huge part of who I am and in the TV and film world of acting you can’t just do that whenever you want. Your ability to perform in that world is dependent on someone else hiring you. I needed an outlet a little more immediate and controllable for me. If I start to get that itch, as a musician, I can call a few clubs and see who has a slot open and within a couple weeks do a show and get my performing fix. It may sound egotistical but I really have some sort of need to do something in front of people otherwise it effects my psyche. I really get down when I have no outlet to work in.


There are a couple filmmakers in town that I have worked with since moving here and I really enjoyed the experience. Anytime they call I am available to do whatever they need, but as far as headed back to LA for the big time…I think I am going to wait until my daughter graduates college and then head back out, they always need the crazy old man in Hollywood!!

Ps- you can see some of my acting here at this website. Mark Jones created and directed this and I enjoyed every second!

http://edgeofsoapopera.com/

***
Thanks Billie!

Billie and the band are trying to finish making their first album and have 5 more songs to record. Please support them through donations in order to help get that done ~ "studio time ain’t cheap!!”

Billie Worley and the Candy Company ~ Band members
Billie Worley ~ Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals
Bob Buckley ~ Bass Guitar
Jeremy Stanfill ~ Keyboards, Background Vocals
Chris Mitchell ~Lead Guitar
Jon Emerson ~ Drums

Listen to the latest tracks and keep up with the band by clicking below.
http://www.myspace.com/billierworleyandthecandyco

Please also show your support for Memphis music by visiting the Memphis Music Foundation website and getting involved.
http://memphismusicfoundation.org/


Living in Cambodia: Part 2

{Auction Item: Cambodian Paper Currency, 1 of 3 shown}
Click on photo to bid on nicely framed currencies.

Welcome today's guest contributor Maddy, Daly's friend who also grew up in Cambodia and is a high school student there. Her dad is in the government and her mom also works in a company. Below she answers the same questions posed to Daly about her thoughts on living in Cambodia. {She requested her photo not be posted.}

***
Describe your typical week.
My typical week is just school and hanging out with friends.

What are you studying and why?
I don't have a major yet.

Will you stay in Cambodia to work or continue your education?
I will continue into college after high school here. I was thinking of continuing high school in USA.

What other places are you looking to live?
I might also want to live in USA when I grow up.

What is it like being a woman in the work or school environment? Do you think you are treated equally to men?
I think I am treated equally towards other students doesn't matter the gender or race.

What is your knowledge of the Khmer Rouge history and the Khmer Rouge trial happening right now?
I know quite a bit about the history as my parents use to talk about it and also I have learned about it in school before. I know there is a trial going on but I don't know how it is coming out.

Would you be a different person if you grew up in a Western country such as the U.S. instead of Cambodia?
I think I might be different as in expressing myself and also emotional issues.

Do you find that it is hard to succeed in Cambodia when you are raised in a place or family of little money?
I think it is hard because very few of those that were raised in a family with little money actually succeed and have a good future.

Do you have anything else about Cambodia that you want people to know that you don't think they already do?
ummm...I think they should know that we a very good people and that most of us have a patient heart to make things better for our lives and others too.

***
Thanks Maddy!

If you have other questions you would like to ask, post them in the comments or email me at
sophorn@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Future of Cambodia

Welcome today’s guest contributor John, my little brother who currently lives in Singapore south of Cambodia. He assists in the asset management of real estate investments within the Asia Pacific region. Although the assets within his portfolio are all in Thailand, he shares his research of the current real estate development in Cambodia, the future of Cambodia.
***

Property Market Overview
Since 2000 Cambodia's economy has grown at an average rate of 9.5 percent, driven largely by an expansion in the garment sector and tourism. Due to pressure on US led exports in the wake of the sub-prime crisis and ensuing slowdown, coupled with the negative impact of higher energy and commodity prices, the IMF, World Bank and EIU are forecasting economic contractions of 0.5% to 3.0% in 2009. All three organizations agree a slowdown in garment sales, construction and tourism will drag down 2009 growth. The EIU expects a recovery by 2010 with economic growth of 2.2%.


Cambodia's private sector has urged the government to allow foreign ownership of real estate in a bid to further promote economic growth. Cambodian investment law was amended back in 2005 to allow foreign ownership of permanent fixtures, but as yet has not been enforced. The non-implementation of the act has in fact rendered the amendments out dated and in need of review. In the current legal understanding, the old law will only allow a property investment in the name of a Cambodian national. Nuth Nurang, Secretary of State at Cambodia's Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has admitted that the government is still considering an amendment to Cambodia's law that would allow foreigners to buy property in the rapidly emerging market freehold. To date, foreign investors have only been permitted to buy on a leasehold tenure of up to 99 years - an option which has proved popular with buyers seeking to invest in Southeast Asia.

Vast new building projects have increased over the past few years, including a great number of satellite cities worth billions of dollars that when completed will fundamentally alter the appearance of the capital. After years of disorder within Cambodia, the country is now turning things around as a growing economy posting a steady 11 per cent growth over the last three years, fuelled by a strong tourism industry and clothing manufacture. That said, Cambodia still relies on international aid for half of its annual budget.

Major property investment regions
Phnom Penh, Siem Reap

Upcoming Markets
Sihanoukville, Kep

Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh became Cambodia's capital when the seat of government was moved from Angkor Thom in the wake of a Siamese invasion. French colonialists expanded the canal system to control the wetlands, constructed roads and built a port. By the 1920s, Phnom Penh was known as the Pearl of Asia and over the next four decades continued to experience growth with the building of a railway to Sihanoukville and an international airport. When the city fell to Maoist Khmer Rouge rebels in 1975 Phnom Penh's entire population was deported to labour camps where disease, hunger and murder claimed somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million Cambodian lives. The Khmer Rouge were driven out of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese in 1979 and people began to return to the city. Reconstruction began, spurred by continuing stability of government, attracting new foreign investment and aid by countries including France, Australia, and Japan. Loans were made from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to reinstate a clean water supply, roads and other infrastructure. By 2001 Phnom Penh was estimated to have finally reached its pre-conflict population level of one million and today it is the undisputed economic, industrial, commercial, cultural, tourist and historical centre of the fast-recovering country.

Phnom Penh is the centre of a stunning property boom currently underway in Cambodia. The entire tourist-orientated waterfront area of Sisowath Quay is currently being redeveloped and the country's first ever skyscraper is under construction. The boom has been put down to a range of factors but comparative political stability under Hun Sen, an improving regulatory and legal framework and a lack of alternative investment options in the country are the main triggers.

The gold rush however, has not come without its victims and real estate development has seen many ordinary Khmers evicted from their homes.

The government has also been contributing to growth not least by the announcement of a master plan for the city's development. Along with socio-economic development and improvement of physical infrastructure, the government has pledged to overhaul public services and housing while preserving the environment of the city and its environs. The Bureau of Urban Affairs of Phnom Penh Municipality is aiming to expand the city and build major new infrastructures by 2020 in order to accommodate Phnom Penh's growing economic activities and population. The Phnom Penh area will be broadened north, south, east and west, with Wat Phnom as the central point and city limits forming a radius of 30 km. The area opposite Chaktomukh River will be developed as an economic and residential centre while a number of urban zones will become Phnom Penh affiliated towns. Necessary infrastructure to be built includes roads, boulevards, canals and a railway system to link the city's growing and dispersed areas, according to The Cambodian Press Review. The Phnom Penh 2020 plan has already been approved by the Ministry of Land Management and now it needs to be ratified by the government.


Key Projects Under Development ~ Camko City
The first and largest urban development project in Cambodia is being developed 3km north from the heart of Phnom Penh at a cost of US$ 2 billion. Camko City will include thousands of residential units, a Trade center, Convention center, Exhibition center, Financing center, Office buildings, Shopping centers, Hotels, Serviced Residences, a university, a hospital and schools and infrastructure for the development, which is expected to take between 11 and 15 years to complete.

The first of six phases is due for completion in two years and the entire project is expected to be complete by 2018. Construction of CamKo City is progressing on schedule and the first phase of Townhouses and Villas have been scheduled to be complete this spring.

As of February 20, 2009, construction of the 1st phase is 56% complete.

{above 3 photos of buildings in contruction in Camko City}


Links
http://worldcitycambodia.com/master_01.html
http://www.camkocity.net/

Gold Tower 42
Gold Tower 42, a $US300 million South Korean apartment block currently dominates the high end of the market which, at 42 storeys, will be three times higher than Phnom Penh's current tallest building. The completion date has been set for 2012 but buyers are already purchasing many of the development's 360 units. The project will form part of a larger two-tower development which on completion will be Cambodia's tallest building at 52-storeys. GS Engineering and Construction, the largest real estate developer in South Korea, will take 45 months to complete the billion-dollar project near the Tonle Bassac River. As well as the residential aspect, the 68,461sqm project will include a 52-story office block, an international school and a shopping mall with 1,064 units.


Siem Reap
Siem Reap was little more than a village when the first French explorers re-discovered Angkor in the 19th century, but this soon changed as it began to absorb the first wave of tourists. The Grand Hotel d'Angkor opened its doors in 1929 and the temples of Angkor remained one of Asia's leading draws until the late 1960s, luring visitors like Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Kennedy. In 1975, the population of Siem Reap, along with the rest of the cities and towns in Cambodia, was evacuated by the communist Khmer Rouge and driven into the countryside.As civil strife slowly ended the tourism industry built around Angkor rapidly developed. Today, Siem Reap is undoubtedly Cambodia's fastest growing city and it taking full advantage of its status as a gateway town to the world famous heritage site.

Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville is nestled on a small peninsula with beaches and tropical islands off its south and west coast, and the commercial port to the north west. Beaches that line the west contour of the city from north to south are Victory Beach, Lamherkay Beach, Koh Pos Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, Serendipity Beach, Occheuteal Beach and Otres Beach. The most popular beaches are Occheuteal, Sokha, Independence and Victory. Also known as Kampong Som, Sihanoukville was developed as a port city in southern Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. Like elsewhere it was devastated by the Khmer Rouge regime but as peace returned to the country, Sihanoukville quickly staked out its claim as the nation's most popular beach resort town.

Kep
Kep, located just a few kilometers from Ha Tien in Vietnam, was once Cambodia's most popular and prestigious beach town. From the early 1900's through to the outbreak of conflict in the 1960's Kep was a thriving resort for the rich French and Cambodian elite. During the Khmer Rouge years, much of Kep's French colonial era mansions and villas were destroyed. Although Kep's coastline lacks the volume of high quality beaches dotted around Sihanoukville, it does have its attractions. The island of Koh Thonsy, with its white sands and notable natural dive sites, is just a short boat ride away. The town's seafood is cheap, plentiful and delicious - particularly the crabs. In addition, Kep is home to an extensive national park.

Sources
http://www.property-report.com/property-search.php?txtsearch=cambodia
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7207030.stm

***
Thanks John! We are so proud of your accomplishments and so jealous of your adventurous life in beautiful Southeast Asia. He is packing for Phuket, Thailand as we speak. {John in photo above in Malacca, Malaysia. He is also a pretty good photographer as you can see in his photo below of the Malacca cityscape.}

Monday, April 27, 2009

Memphis Music Spotlight: An Interview with Memphis Jones

{Memphis Jones ~ Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, comedian, and public speaker}

I am very excited to introduce to you one of the performers for the 30 Days of Hope Benefit Concert, this Thursday, April 30 at Nocturnal, Memphis Jones. I first met him when Christopher, Atticus and I took the Memphis Mojo tour to learn about Memphis music history and had the most entertaining 90 minutes of our life. Atop a stool on a small stage behind the driver, Memphis Jones captivated our group of locals and tourists with his storytelling ability mixed with his great versions of significant Memphis songs to demonstrate the musical stylings and strategies of legends such as Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, and, of course, Elvis.

We recommend this tour to everyone we know, and those who have taken our advice have thanked us immensely. Memphis Jones was kind enough to donate a family pass to the Mojo tour to our auction. Click here to bid now.

I also had a chance to ask him a few questions about Memphis music and his musical path. See his thoughts below.
***
"For the past 6 years, music has been my only job. I'm Memphis Jones. Ain't that sweet?"
Living in Memphis didn't directly contribute to the creative aspect of my musicianship until I realized that every band that I would ever love had heroes that came from Memphis. After developing an ear for the Memphis influence in the musicians I admired I grew a taste for the pure stuff, so I started going to the source: the music that was created in Memphis during the first half of the 20th century. Now it's about all I have ears for and the music that I create today is just a big old hodge-podge of stuff I've picked up and pieced together along the way. If you look at it right you realize that writing or creating music is just playing things that sound right; stuff that reminds you of other music that you like. Sonic quilt-making. So as for me, I have become a product of the music made here before my time. Just a faint echo of my own heroes.

It is very hard to judge how Memphis is currently viewed by the "music world"- we get very little recognition from the industry and very few bands achieve success beyond filling up a night club in Memphis. Thousands of people come here every year because of the music that was made here in the last century, and many musicians from around the world esteem Memphis very highly for being the home of blues and rock & roll, but there seems to be very little life in the local music culture's ability to focus national interest in what happens here today. What could change that? I'm not sure- another Sam Phillips wouldn't hurt. Professional studios in Memphis should be willing to go further with developing the bands here in town- that's how you find people like Elvis Presley. Bring in the talent and audition them in the studio, roll the tapes and see what happens.

Music history has always been a passion of mine. From the Beatles to the Zombies, I have always loved the story behind the song as much as the song itself. My old friends and relations from my school days called me Rock Trivia Jones. There is so much out there to be fascinated by, and it all points back to Memphis. I became an expert by default.

I have to go on record and say that my life was radically changed by the power of my savior Jesus Christ. I plugged into his plan for me and have been living my dreams daily ever since. Sounds churchy, but I swear there is nothing like it. All I do is love God, love people, and love music. That is my whole life. Rain and shine, I stand on the promises in the Bible. I don't have to pretend, I don't have to hide, I only have to be myself and God handles the rest. That is freedom.
***
Thanks Memphis!
Memphis Jones has recently been involved in a film related to Elvis portraying Elvis' mentor, "Brother Frank. You can read more about him at his website http://www.memphisjones.com/.
You can also learn more about the Memphis Mojo Tour, part of the Backbeat Tours, at http://www.backbeattours.com/.

Living in Cambodia: Part 1

Welcome today's guest contributor Daly, my second or third cousin who grew up in Cambodia and is still living there. She is currently attending Limkokwing University Of Creative Technology in Phnom Penh. Her dad is a government official and her mom, a businesswoman. Below she shares a small glimpse into her life and thoughts about bigger issues concerning Cambodia.
***
Describe your typical week.
My typical week consist of schooling 70% or 80%. I spend most of my time in school then after that doing my assignments. On the weekend, my top priority is spending time with my parents then come friends. I do party sometimes occasionally when there’s a birthday or any celebrations. I still have a strict curfew even thou I’m in college…

What are you studying and why?
I am currently majoring in Architecture Technology because I love the concepts of different buildings or houses and I have a passion for beautiful and innovative designs.

Will you stay in Cambodia to work or continue your education?
I will stay in Cambodia to continue my study and to work, although if there are chances, I would like to continue it abroad so I can face new challenges and gain new experiences and opportunities.

What other places are you looking to live?
I would like to live in the United States because I love the psychology behind its people. As everyone says…it’s the land of free. In the US, you are welcome to speak for yourself. It’s more liberal than my country. Another choice would be Hong Kong because I just love everything about it! The environment, the people, the way of life.

What is it like being a woman in the work or school environment? Do you think you are treated equally to men?
I think I’m treated equally to men although at the beginning, people often judge me down on my talents because I’m a female but as soon as they see what I can do, they give me full respect.

What is your knowledge of the Khmer Rouge history and the Khmer Rouge trial happening right now?
I have a well understanding of the Khmer Rouge History but about the Khmer Rouge trail not much because I don’t really care about it and I think my country should emphasize their focus more both mentally and economically on developing the country and not focusing on the melancholy in the past because it’s something that we could never change…

Would you be a different person if you grew up in a Western country such as the U.S. instead of Cambodia?
Yes I think I would, definitely.

Do you find that it is hard to succeed in Cambodia when you are raised in a place or family of little money?
It’s harder than western countries to be successful when you’re short of cash. Although, there are scholarships available to those who really deserve it and work hard for it. There should be more scholarships available.

Do you have anything else about Cambodia that you want people to know that you don't think they already do?
Cambodia is not as liberal as it looks and I would like to see some fairness in career places. If you’re smart and talented you should be rewarded but not because of your strings of connection. That’s Cambodia…you never get points or promotion because you’re the shining star of success, you get it, when you have connections.

***
Thanks Daly!

If you have other questions, you would like to ask post them in the comments or email me at sophorn@hotmail.com. Daly has also forwarded my questions to other friends in Cambodia. Their responses will be in future postings.

Memphis Weekend Wrap-up

Friday, April 24 / South Main Trolley and Arts Tour / Last Friday of Every Month

Memphis' 3rd Annual Zombie Walk : Hundreds of zombies made their way down South Main early in the evening. Some were scary but some politely asked if we had brains to spare. Atticus and I gave the "zombie golfer" the most creative award. Strangely, his love for zombies is up there with candy and stuffed animals. Christopher is explaining to those watching with us that this is an international thing. I looked up the website to find the answer to the question first-timers repeatedly asked us, "What's up with the zombies?" but didn't find much on the origin. Click here to read more and see a video. Visit the zombie walk website here.
~
Pearl's Oyster House is one of our favorite seafood restaurants in Memphis. We had the grilled tilapia with a delicious tangy sauce.
~
299 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Tel +1.901.522.9070
Visit website here.

Breaking Ground Exhibit at "on the street" features works by Memphis College of Art MFA candidates Danita Barrentine and Ben Utigard on view until May 9. Atticus is studying the aluminum can art right before he touches one of the can bottoms. "on the street" gallery is located at 338 South Main, immediately west of the venerable Raiford's Lounge. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, 4 to 9 pm, and Saturday, noon to 5 pm. All events are free and open to the public.
***
Saturday, April 25 / Skiptracers / Memphis Int'l Film Festival

Skiptracers was such an unforgettable comedy with characters such as Rusty McAndrews played by Dothan, Alabama native Andy Stuckey stealing every scene he was in. The movie is the screen debut for Porter Harris who grew up in Memphis {as Harrison Ford} but uses a screen name as to not confuse himself with the other Harrison Ford. He played a tender at heart bounty hunter {in right photo on left}. He flew down from New York to attend the screening and even took the time to talk to me, Christopher and his brother Charles about filming in Dothan and even remembering their mom Rosalyn who helped with the set. We were glad to support him and Andy and enjoy a great film in the process. Visit Skiptracers website here.
***
Sunday, April 26 / Books and Brunch / Women in Architecture

The Women in Architecture hosted their bi-monthly social at Just For Lunch at Chickasaw Oaks to bring in donations for the University of Memphis Architecture Program Library. Contact AIA Memphis if you would to donate money or books at info@aiamemphis.org. I sat next to Sherry Bryan, director of the U of M architecture program, so I found out that they would love to have some guest jurors for final presentations happening this week and next. Email me at sophorn@hotmail.com if you {an architect, interior designer or maybe even an artist} are interested in critiquing. Visit the U of M Architecture website here. Visit Just For Lunch at 3092 Poplar, Suite 11, Tel +1.901.323.3287.

Hotel 71 ~ Chicago

With lots of searching through all the discount booking sites, we finally reserved a great hotel in a prime downtown location for a great price. It was a no-brainer with Hotel 71 just a little more a night than a lower quality chain and described as "Modern ~ Urban ~ Boutique", my favorite 3 words used to describe any space. We're just hoping we get a room with a view like the ones shown below.


Hotel 71 is located on the Chicago River at Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue, "the Magnificent Mile".

History
It was designed by Milton Schwartz & Associates in 1958 as the Executive House, originally to be a condominium building. In 1958, the hotel held the distinction as the tallest concrete building in the country at 230 feet. Surrounding architectural landmarks seen from Hotel 71 include Marina city, the Wrigley Building, the Chicago Tribune Tower and the Jewelers' Building.

Booking
We were able to get the best deal through Kayak.com which connected to agoda.com. We saved over 50% compared to another big name discount site.

Hotel 71
71 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Tel +1.312.346.7100
Email
info@hotel71.com
www.hotel71.com

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Personal Story of Adoption

Welcome today’s guest contributor, Mary, a fellow Memphian whom Christopher and I met while attending Idlewild Presbyterian Church. With her husband Stephen, she shares their experience of adopting a child from Cambodia.
{Photo above of Cambodian children helped through the Sharing Foundation, an organization that Mary and Stephen support and believe in a great deal. Click on photo to visit the website.}

***

Thoughts on International Adoption from Cambodia

Adoption by itself and especially international adoption requires an initial leap of faith… our family took that leap 10 and a half years ago when we adopted our daughter from Cambodia. Traveling half a world away from our home, my husband, myself and 4 year old biological son, took that jump and humbly accepted the gift of a child from another culture, another people, another land. As our family has become one unit, we have been forever grateful to Cambodia for sharing one of her own with us and we strive to deserve that trust daily in the way we raise our daughter.

I now look at our children together and am amused that I ever was concerned that this might not work out. I am aware of and celebrate our daughter’s differences FROM me, but at the same time her exuberant smile, her zest for life, her infinite optimism, and her frequent hugs have become part OF me. The concept of family, to us, transcends blood relationships. In fact, the blood ties have completely fallen away when we focus on what we have learned. We have been blessed with a child by birth and one by adoption and we live daily the lesson that trust and love bind our family first. My husband said early on, that we are not particularly special people because we’ve adopted internationally. But instead we have been called to have a special experience. In answering that call to adopt, we have been stretched spiritually farther than we believed possible and the rewards of loving both of our children and being an international family have been a gift to each one of us.

{Photo of a school in a village close to Phnom Penh that they visited. It is a private school that is run for kids of the rural farmers. They farm cooperatively, and have access to land, seeds, tools etc and help with getting things to market as long as they agree to send their children to the school. It is run through The Sharing Foundation.}

This past Christmas, we returned, as a family, to Cambodia. We were part of a travel group of 11 families, all with children born in Cambodia, and each of us with a desire to learn more about this majestic country. When we landed in Siem Reap, our Cambodian born children were taken aside by the customs officials and their American passports were stamped with permanent and free of charge Cambodian visas, a generous gesture on their part of welcome to their native born children. They will always be welcome, they were told, to visit the land of their birth.

For our daughter, this trip was filled with excitement and not a little trepidation. Having no memory of her birth country, she was faced with the challenge of integrating her American raised current self, with her Cambodian roots. And, to be candid, there were times when the sights and sounds were overwhelming and foreign to her. But her tenacity in seeing new things triumphed and she has carried away a new found pride in the land of her birth. A visit to the orphanage where she lived, meeting the nanny who had cared for her and joyfully wrapped her in her arms at the reunion, playing games with children in the villages we visited, walking the ruins of Angkor Wat all seemed to mesh with her growing sense of herself as a Cambodian-born, American raised child.

It all seemed to culminate in her actions upon arriving home in Memphis at the conclusion of the trip. After an exhausting 36 hours of travel, we arrived home at midnight but our daughter seemed to have new energy. When we entered our home, she spied a folded up Cambodian flag that had been hanging in our living room for years, undisturbed by anyone. She shouted out, “Let’s hang this flag up right now!” And so, bleary-eyed, we watched our daughter, who so clearly had gained a tangible new pride in the land of her birth, race around the front yard waving the flag and laughing gleefully. After a few moments, she yelled, “A little help here Dad!” and her father picked her up and helped her place the flag in the flag pole on our porch. There it still proudly flies as I type this morning, waving gently in the southern spring breezes, a reminder to us all of the international bonds within our family.

***
Thanks Mary for your wonderful story. We honor what you do to make a difference.

Fave Find: Reuse Made Fashionable

Found at Delphinium, the “Eco Weekender” bags are made from rice and feed bags in Cambodia through a fair trade company called Gecko Traders. Each piece is handcrafted by disabled and disadvantaged workers in Cambodia, and your purchase helps provide these Cambodian women with a much better life.

The motto of Gecko Traders is "If your eyes like it. Your heart will love it?"

Click here to visit the Gecko Traders website.
***
In Memphis, you can purchase these beautiful designs at the South Main boutique store Delphinium. I purchased two: the green handbag in first photo and a pink clutch. Prices of these bags range from $24.50 to $42.50.

Delphinium
107 G.E. Patterson Ave
{Next to the Arcade Restaurant}
Memphis, TN 38103
Tel + 1.901.522.8600
http://www.delphiniumboutique.com/
~
They are also my source for jewelry and unique gifts. They also carry cosmetic and skin care lines.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Diagnosing Cambodian Heathcare

Welcome today's guest contributor Wilton, my father-in-law and practicing ear, nose, and throat doctor in Troy, Alabama. He had retired some years ago but soon missed caring for people and returned to practice. He is one doctor that greatly exemplifies what a doctor and person should be.

His research and thoughts on the topic of the health and available healthcare of Cambodia will help you appreciate the healthcare we have here in America and more developed countries.
{Click on photo of waiting room above to visit the photographer's photo essay on this topic.}
***
Can you imagine living in a country with a population of 7 million people ( akin to the population of Virginia or Massachusetts ) that only has 10 medical doctors?

Sounds impossible, but this is exactly the scenario faced by Cambodia in 1979 when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, headed by Pol Pot, was finally removed from power. The Khmer Rouge, a fanatical communist group, took control of the country in 1975 and attempted to reinvent the country as a communist agrarian society. They did this by brutally removing all the educated elements of the Cambodian culture. Teachers, intellectuals, engineers, doctors, nurses, bankers and other educated factions were systematically murdered, executed or deported. At the end of this reign of terror, over one and one half million Cambodians had died, completely decimating the country’s health system.

{Patient room in Preah Sihanouk Hospital}

For the past 30 years, Cambodia’s medical community has been playing a vigorous game of catch up with financial help from the U.N. and other countries, especially the Japanese, and infusions of volunteer doctors and nurses from developed nations. In addition, the Cambodians have greatly stepped up their own medical training programs. However, the decades of war and political oppression have been profound, leaving Cambodia as one of the poorest countries in the world where the average family income is around $400.00 (U.S.) and much less than this for a rural family living in the country side. Life expectancy is around 50 years for men and 55 years for women, compared with 74 and 80 years in the USA. It is estimated that 75% of the population is rural, living in small wooden huts with no electricity, running water or sewerage. The average family has 4-6 children and the children begin helping with agrarian chores at a very early age. 20% of men and 40% of women are illiterate. Because of the extreme poverty, many young girls are sold by their families to unscrupulous persons and used as sex slaves, in spite of legislation passed in 1996 outlawing this practice. It is estimated that 30-40% of all prostitutes are infected with HIV and that 50% of all Cambodian men have sex with prostitutes at some point in time. As a result, over 1% of the population has become infected with HIV, some of the highest figures in Southeast Asia.


{Choeut Sarouen, manager of the renovated Pulmonary Ward at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, the largest public hospital in Cambodia. Click on photo to read more.}

Most villages have no health workers, with most medical facilities being in the larger cities. In Cambodia, there is no organized transportation system. For a sick rural villager to get to a hospital in a city he must get transportation via bicycle, motorbike or walk. Practically no villagers own an automobile. The average time of motorbike transportation to a hospital is over two hours at a cost of over $1.00 which may be 5-10% of a rural worker’s monthly wage. As a consequence, most of these people will seek medical help from local people, monks or faith healers, who practice “traditional medicine” (local plants, herbs, etc.) reserving a trip to the hospital when they are far advanced with an illness. A visiting physician from New York State who worked in Calmette Hospital in Pnom Pouh observed that, of his hospital admissions, 20% had aids and 10% had tuberculosis. Interestingly, 3% had aplastic anemia because chloramphenicol, an antibiotic with aplastic anemia as a side effect, can be bought without a prescription. Though pay for doctors is small compared to U.S. standards, it is considerable compared to the average Cambodian salary. Many physicians will work in a hospital in the AM with an average monthly salary of $50.00, and then conduct a private clinic in the afternoon with a monthly salary of around $500.00 (U.S.). Hospital care is sometimes free, however, inconvenient. Private clinics are preferred but the cost is (2-3 dollars per visit) is impractical for most Cambodians. Most hospitals have basic equipment such as lab, plain x-ray machines and ultrasound but lack CT or MRI, services deemed essential to a good practice of medicine in the USA.

Though the practice of medicine in Cambodia would be judged third world by our standards, one should judge their progress, not from where they are, but from where they are now relative to from where they started. Most critics would acknowledge great progress from those humble beginnings in 1979 with a beginning cadre of only 10 physicians.

***
Thanks Pop!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beignets: Just in time for the Trolley Tour

The South Main Arts and Trolley Tour is tonight starting at 6pm and just around the corner down GE Patterson near the Civil Rights Museum lot is a great new eatery and coffee lounge called the Beignet Cafe. Opening just 2 weeks ago, the Beignet Cafe will be able to add to the great vibe of the mini festival for the first time.

{Fresh beignets with a generous dusting of powdered sugar and parmesan fries with fresh cut chives were both favorites for me and my son Atticus}
.
Check them out tonight and any night during the week. They have free wi-fi and comfy lounge seating.
.
Beignet Cafe
124 E Ge Patterson Ave
Memphis, TN 38103
Tel +1 901.527.0272

Beignet Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Journey to Main Street

Welcome today's guest contributor Shannon, my sister-in-law and a contributing writer to a magazine that focuses on small businesses.
***

The Journey to Main Street
How some Cambodian Americans have found success in America through business ownership

Timothy Chhim’s life is far different from the one he could have imagined 30 years ago. Leaving his home country on foot in 1975 to escape the Pol Pot regime, the then 19-year-old man never dreamed that he’d one day own his own small business in the United States. “I would have thought it was just a big dream without frontiers,” says Chhim, who walked about 300 miles over four months. “But I was very ambitious to feel and experience justice and freedom.”

That ambition carried Chhim from a brief life as a refugee in Thailand to the United States. And when he arrived here on Oct. 16, 1976, he put himself through college and then just 10 years later embarked on a true American dream--entrepreneurship.

Today, Chhim, the son of a peasant rice cultivator and student, is a successful independent insurance agent in upstate New York. His remarkable journey from a small village in Cambodia to an independent business owner in the United States exemplifies the reason so many Cambodians risked their lives to escape an oppressive regime. Taking a chance, working as hard as you can and making a better life for your family--it’s an experience unique to U.S. entrepreneurs--and one that’s often even more special to immigrants who arrive at success after a difficult journey.

Chhim is just one of the thousands of Cambodian Americans who’ve participated in our country’s unique free-enterprise system by owning their own businesses. Their work has been productive, too. While Asian firms make up 30 percent of all minority companies, they account for 52 percent of all receipts from minority businesses, according to the
U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Over 50 percent of all minority-owned businesses whose sales exceeded $1 million dollars were Asian American owned.


Success is sweet for thousands of Cambodians who own doughnut shop throughout the United States. In fact, 80 percent of all doughnut shops in California are owned by Cambodian immigrants. Ted Ngoy, a Cambodian who arrived in the U.S. in 1975, paved the way for the thousands of small-business owners after him who dabble in the fried dough.

While working as a janitor in Long Beach, Calif., Ngoy tasted his first doughnut ever. He was later hired by Winchell’s, a large chain of doughnut shops in California. And two years after that, Ngoy had saved up enough money to buy his own Winchell’s franchise.

“Ngoy is the one who found a way for Cambodian immigrants to become part of the American dream of owning their own business,” said
Dennis Wong of the Asian Business Association in this article in the Daily Yonder (a newspaper for rural communities). "Taking a loan from an Asian loaning society, Ngoy was able to buy two stores, operate them for awhile and then sell to someone in the community or a family member who wanted to buy them. That's how they got into it."

Cambodians doughnut makers aren’t confined to the West Coast. Wayne Wright, a professor of educational policy and scholar of Cambodian American culture at University of Texas, San Antonio, estimates that 90 percent of Houston’s doughnut shops are Cambodian-owned as well.

No matter how they find entrepreneurial success--whether by selling insurance or doughnuts or something else--Cambodian American business owners are participating in one of the true American freedoms.

All photos can be credited to "Bill Bishop, The Daily Yonder”

***


Thanks Shannon! {The beautiful family from left: Christopher’s little brother William with Wills, Shannon and Lib}


Memphis also has their very own Cambodian run doughnut shop Donald’s Doughnuts, the best doughnuts in Memphis according to many midtowners.

Donald’s Doughnuts
1776 Union Ave
Memphis, TN
Next to Idlewild Presbyterian Church
Tel + 1 901.725.5595

Open 7 days a week ~ 4:30 am to 6:30 pm

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