Cambodia Hub




10 Reasons Cambodia Should Top Your Gay Travel Wish List

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BY KYLE VALENTA

Thailand is fantastic, and they say Vietnam is everything, too, but I'm telling you straight up: Cambodia has everything an LGBT traveler would love. In fact, I'm counting the days until I can go back. My boyfriend and I spent five days in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh this January, though the country deserves a lot more time. Check out the 10 things I learned as a gay man passing through, and move Cambodia to the top of your "Must See" list right now.

1. Phnom Penh is just gay enough. IMG_3784

It’s not New York or Bangkok, but nightlife in Phnom Penh is an easy, laid-back affair. At Blue Chilli, just west of the National Museum on Street 178, you might catch an event like Miss Blue Chilli Queen International. The monks living at Wat Sarawan across the street got an earful (and possibly an eyeful) as these queens representing countries from around the world hair-flipped, split, and high-kicked their way through formalwear, swimwear and talent portions of the competition. Set up on a stage right in the middle of the road, these ladies weren't afraid to show the whole city what they're working with—even if the lip-sync game got a little loose from time to time. On regular nights, Blue Chilli is a smaller affair, though it hosts regular drag shows, as do Rainbow Bar (136 Street) and 2 Colours (Street 13).

2. You’ll live like a king or queen on a dime.

Local coffee for $.50; plates of fried noodles eaten while swapping news with your cook about ISIS and pro wrestler John Cena for $2—from food to shelter, Southeast Asia is legendarily budget friendly. We got the most for our money at the Tea House Urban Asian Resort. It’s filled with plenty of glazed concrete, minimalist furniture, and local flair and is within walking distances to boutiques, upmarket cafes, bustling Asian markets, Khmer food joints, and open-air tea shops. Grab some freshly cut dragon fruit from a stand on the corner and head a few blocks north to support the women learning how to make seriously intricate cakes at Bloom Cafe and Training Center.

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3. Phnom Penh’s shopping game is tight (and affordable!).

Now's your chance to be that guy (or girl) with the pretentious answer when someone asks you: "Where did you get that?!" Phnom Penh and Siem Reap both have a serious helping of sweet, indie shops filled with things for your walls, your coffee tables, and your torso. In Siem Reap, especially, stores like Blue Apsara (a used book shop/art space) stay open fairly late, letting you get some shopping in after a busy day at Angkor Wat. In Phnom Penh, you'll find all sorts of one-of-a-kind items west of the Royal Palace on Streets 19 and 13. Estampe has vintage Cambodian photos in every shape and size as well as contemporary prints of local graffiti and streetscapes. While Trunkh can sell you anything from hand painted mud sculptures to fish-shaped pillows to hand-printed tea towels to T-shirts emblazoned with iconic Phnom Penh architecture.

 

IMG_37224. History is neat!

Your jaw will drop, you’ll be jostled by busloads of Chinese tourists, and the magnitude of it all will make your head spin—Angkor Archeological Park is massive and worth it. Hire a tuk tuk for day one and see Bantei Srei, Bantei Samre, Ta Som, Preah Khan and then scale towering Pre Rup to watch the sunset. On your second day, rent a mountain bike ($3-4) and enjoy the peaceful ride out to Angkor Wat itself, moving to the tree-choked ruins of Ta Prohm after lunch, and spending the early evening among the giant Buddha faces at Bayon. You’ll beat the hordes of crowds watching the sunset outside Angkor Wat, and you can explore Bayon’s captivating tangle of staircases and stunning visuals without competition. The temple is still an active Buddhist site and you’ll see monks attending prayer ceremonies in the sanctum at the top. Take a seat outside, breath in the smell of incense, and watch everything go coral and orange as the evening cooking fires send plumes of smoke up into the air in the jungle all around you.

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5. History is devastating.

Cambodia is beautiful, but its violent past is never far—millions of landmines are scattered across the countryside, remnants of civil war and the Khmer Rouge. On our first night in Phnom Penh, as we walked along the Mekong River, a wild American ex-pat approached us, wanting to know what we were going to see and do while in town. When we told him we’d be visiting the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in one day, he said, “It’s a nightmare.” And it was, but you shouldn’t skip them. From the bone fragments still emerging from Choeung Ek’s dusty soil to the eyes staring out from the Tuol Sleng prisoner portraits—there are a million ways that these places will shatter you.

Now, CHECK OUT the Do's and Don'ts, AFTER THE JUMP....

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Cambodian PM Hun Sen Urges End to Anti-Gay Discrimination

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, who in October 2007 publicly cut ties with his lesbian daughter, has spoken out in support of gays and lesbiand and urged his countrymen to curtail anti-gay discrimination, the AP reports:

HunsenGay rights is not a major issue in Cambodia, and Hun Sen seemed to have been inspired by discussions of the subject on International Human Rights Day on Monday, including on local television. Cambodian society, as in neighboring Thailand, is generally tolerant of homosexuality.

He said he had heard requests from gay Cambodians that they be able to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as others.

"There are gays and lesbians in every country, so there should be no discrimination against them just because of their destiny," he said...

...he appealed to society to show respect for gay people, saying "Most of them are good people and are not doing alcohol, drugs or racing vehicles."

The Cambodian leader made international headlines in 2007 when he publicly cut ties with his lesbian daughter. Said Hun Sen to more than 3,000 assembled at a school graduation ceremony in Phnom Penn: "My adopted daughter now has a wife. I'm quite disappointed. We are concerned that she might one day cause us trouble ... and try to stake her claim for a share of our assets."

At that time, Hun Sen also reportedly urged Cambodians not to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Comments about his daughter were reportedly omitted when the speech was aired on state media.

In 2004, Cambodia's King Sihanouk spoke out about gays and lesbians, saying "I am not gay, but I respect the rights of gays and lesbians. It's not their fault if God makes them born like that."


Towleroad Guide to the Tube: #798

DANIEL RADCLIFFE: A new PSA for The Trevor Project and Socialvibe.com.

CAMBODIA: The powerful story of a brave 70-year-old transgender sex worker who has started the country's first gay and trans HIV support group.

PAINT BOMBS: Student protests over tuitiion fees in London are getting very violent.

CELINE DION: the amazing one gives another impromptu singing performance on Larry King.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


News: Cambodia, Chris Hughes, Immigration, Janet Jackson

 roadDubai hotel frees whale shark.

Buschbaum  roadHis name was Yvonne: German pole vaulter Balian Buschbaum.

 roadSenator Chuck Schumer signals commitment to inclusion of LGBT provisions in comprehensive immigration reform: "I support [UAFA] and I am working on introducing a comprehensive package that would address this issue along with a host of immigration issues . . . At this time, I believe that the only way to pass meaningful and effective immigration reform is through a comprehensive bill, not through piecemeal legislation."


 roadJanet Jackson announces release date of new single, called "Nothing".

 roadBo Bice (remember him?) becomes 'Bob' Bice

 roadTom Brady grows it out.

 roadNice knowing you, Bluefin tuna: "Global talks on the conservation of endangered species have rejected calls to ban international trade in bluefin tuna, raising new fears for the future of dwindling stocks. Countries at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Qatar voted down a proposal from Monaco to grant the fish stronger protection. The plan drew little support, with developing countries joining Japan in opposing a measure they feared would hit fishing economies."


Mcginley  roadThe NYT 'T' magazine pays a visit to the studio of Ryan McGinley.

 roadChicago Mayor Daley appoints new chair to gay advisory council: "Elizabeth Kelly will serve a three-year term as chairperson of the Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. Kelly is a professor of women's and gender studies at DePaul University. She was a founding member of DePaul's interdisciplinary program in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies."

 roadGay Facebook founder Chris Hughes starts Jumo.com, a social platform for global volunteerism: "Think of the site as philanthropy, volunteerism and social networking all rolled into one. It's a platform that will connect people and organizations around the world, and Hughes is arguably the most well-known tech entrepreneur to enter the still evolving global space." Site.

 roadThe SF Chronicle discovers Grindr.

 roadKiller of gay bar manager up soon for parole.

Vman  roadVman modeling search winners announced (site possibly nsfw).

 roadSiem Reap, Cambodia's gay haven: "Homosexual acts are not outlawed in Cambodia, as they are in a few Southeast Asian countries, but outward displays of affection and untraditional lifestyles are rare. Yet in Siem Reap, a small town that gets about a million tourists a year, gay visitors and locals are carving out a little haven. In the last few years, a small flurry of gay-friendly bars, restaurants and hotels has opened up in the city’s center and beyond, with wink-wink names like the Golden Banana and Cockatoo."

 roadFacebook deletes Seattle gay youth group.

 roadAtlanta Eagle lawsuit grows: "Thirty-one Atlanta police officers have been added to a federal lawsuit that complains patrons of a gay nightclub were ordered to lie on the Atlanta Eagle Bar floor, on spilled beer and broken glass, while enduring insults about their homosexuality. The suit, originally filed in November, was expanded Wednesday to include six more bar employees and contractors, bringing the total to 28 people who say they were victimized during the highly publicized raid on Sept. 10."


More Signs of a Planet in Crisis?

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The population of giant catfish, once plentiful in the Mekong Delta in Southeast Asia, have dwindled by 95 to 99 percent in the last century, according to scientists.

National Geographic reports that "since 2000 five to ten fish have been caught by accident each year throughout the Mekong area." The one pictured here was caught by accident on November 13 near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and released unharmed, according to fisheries biologist Zeb Hogan (pictured).

Said Hogan: "This is the only giant catfish that has been caught this year so far, making it the worst year on record for catch of giant fish species."

A recent climate report from the IPCC warned that the world could see extinction of one-third of all species as it warms up. That's a terrifying thought.

In semi-related news, that wayward Minke whale that was found swimming 1,000 miles up the Amazon didn't make it out alive.

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Cambodian Prime Minister Publicly Cuts Ties with Lesbian Daughter

Speaking at a school graduation ceremony in Phnom Penn today, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told those gathered that he was cutting off contact with his daughter because she is a lesbian.

HunsenSaid Hun Sen to the 3,000 assembled: "My adopted daughter now has a wife. I'm quite disappointed. We are concerned that she might one day cause us trouble ... and try to stake her claim for a share of our assets."

According to the AP: "The prime minister and his wife Bun Rany have three sons and two other daughters. He said they adopted their third daughter in the mid 80's when she was 18 days old. She has carried his family name 'Hun' just like his biological children. Hun Sen did not reveal her given name."

Hun Sen reportedly then "said he was not discriminating against gays and appealed to society to show respect for them" according to the media outlet.

The Bangkok Post offers an alternative translation: "My daughter has married a woman ... Now I just asked the court to cut her out of the family. I was disappointed. I can educate an entire nation, but I cannot educate this adopted daughter."

CambodiaThey add, "Hun Sen spoke about his personal struggle, saying media and other educational forums had taught him it was okay to be gay, but when it happened in his own family, he 'did not know how to do.'"

Comments about his daughter were reportedly omitted when the speech was aired on state media.

The non-profit Cambodian gay rights group Women's Agenda for Change reportedly "applauded" Hun Sen's comment on discrimination but said nothing about the daughter.

Homosexuality is legal in Cambodia, but the nation has no laws regarding same-sex marriage.

In 2004, Cambodia's King Sihanouk spoke out about gays and lesbians, saying "I am not gay, but I respect the rights of gays and lesbians. It's not their fault if God makes them born like that."


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