Siem Reap groundwater, shirtless fried rice, monkey trading

Tourist area struggles for precious water, ‘Single Man’ cooks rake in viral video views, Cambodian monkey exports raise alarms

Written By:
February 26, 2022
Siem Reap groundwater, shirtless fried rice, monkey trading

Hello Globe readers,

With omicron cases spreading daily, many people are playing it safe in Cambodia, cancelling trips and choosing to spend more time at home.

Some events have gone ahead with safety precautions, such as a 10-day art festival in Phnom Penh’s Riverside district bringing together five artists whose plans were curbed last year by the pandemic. My article described how each exhibit was designed to pique different senses, or as one artist explained: “Connecting with each other, reacting, touching, feeling, the physical part.”

North of the capital, there isn’t enough groundwater to support the Angkor temple complex alongside the needs of farmers and residents in nearby Siem Reap, nor sufficient surface water storage from rivers, lakes and reservoirs, Jack Brook reports. As researchers consider policies that could help sustainably manage the supply, some rice farmers have turned to spiritual appeals for rain or switched to less water-intensive crops like bananas.

In Vietnam, activists experience pervasive monitoring by plainclothes police officers, a phenomenon colloquially referred to as “eating guard soup,” Govi Snell reports. At a recent meeting in Bangkok, Human Rights Watch officials warned that day-to-day harassment is largely ignored compared to long prison sentences and beatings but nonetheless rose between 2004 and 2021.

Back in Phnom Penh, cooks at Single Man Fried Rice in the city’s Toul Tom Poung market have gained customers and notoriety for providing meals with a view by removing their shirts in videos posted on TikTok and Facebook. Jack explores how the unusual cooking tactics, and online criticism, have drawn interest from young Cambodians embracing female and queer desire.

Finally, Anton L. Delgado reports on the murky but booming macaque monkey trade in Cambodia. The Kingdom exported more than 32,300 macaques in 2020. Animal rights activists have demanded an end to the scientific use of macaques, which is fueling the trade, while conservationists worry captive-breeding farms are contributing to the decline of wild populations.

Stay safe and enjoy this week’s stories.

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