Cambodian Art Contest 2013!

I was looking for the National Museum of Arts in Phnom Penh, and I found by chance some beautiful paintings of Arts students in Cambodia. It was the second Cambodian Art contest 2013, organised by a japanese art’s lover. See below, some paintings that touched me:

Rong Reasey, Student of Phare Ponleu Selpak


Soeung Sorlita, Student of Anuwat high school


Pol Makara, Student of Rufa


Daim Souert, Student of Phare Ponleu Selpak


Sao Vannara, Student of Rufa


Im Pesey, Student of Rufa


Y Bunheang, Studend of Rufa


Nhem Sopheap, Student of Yamada School of Art


Theak Bunthon, Student of Rufa


Som Sokvibol, Student of Phare Ponleu Selpak, Sculpture


Chop Sopheap, Teacher painting


Em Theary, Student of Rufa


Sok Sereymony, Student of Num

DSCF8180Sina Boramy, Student of Rufa


Makara : Circus Performer at Phare Ponleu Selpak !

Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) is a social center and art school in Battambang. I was lucky to see ” The Adventure ” , one of the show of the circus. I wanted to know more about the life of the Circus Performers in PPS and what the circus brings them in their life. Makara, a talented artist, has graciously allowed me to ask him some questions:


1)      Hello! What’s your name? How old are you?

My name is Makara. I`m 23 years old.

2)      How long are you playing in the circus of Battambang? What is your main speciality in the circus?

I`ve been playing in the circus of Battambang for 4years. And I`ve been training for 5 years. (Note: Because of his talent, that`s why he take short time in training for the performance, but not all the students like him.)

3)     How many hours are you working per day? Are you going to school too? Can you narrate me a typical day in the circus.

I train every weekday from 8-11am, and 2-5pm, and the performance is depend on the circus schedule that require each group to work.

  • I don`t go to school anymore as I finish high school for 3 years now.
  • A typical day at the circus is that we have 2 hours to train every morning and afternoon. The first half hour, we do warm up, and the rest we train with our techniques. For me, I get a support from PPS, so I can have lunch in the association. My house is in Chamka Samrong village which is a bit far from PPS and I walk to school. Normally, if we will perform tomorrow, today we need to rehearsal ourselves with the story that we will perform and the music also in order to be together with the music. And on the performed day, we need to train with our techniques before the show starts.


4)      How have you found the Phareps circus? Is there a selection to work in the circus?

How to found the PPS circus: There was a group of teachers here (Social Workers) go to the community and announce about the extra class in PPS for free. Then my mum sent me to study here. I walk to school on the dirt road behind PPS because it`s nearer from my house. At first I come here to study at Child Development Center during my free time from school. I train with the dancing class about 4 years and I know almost all the dancing too. I and my friend were waiting to see the new school of dancing class as we don`t have a real class for dancing.

Later on, all of my friend stop studying here, and I also stop too. Then, I see other children are training in the circus school, and I also interested on it too, especially there was one group performed abroad, so I ask the teachers there to join the class, and the teacher also allows me to join it too. At that time, I was in grade 5, so I decided to change from my previous primary school, Pothivong Primary School, to study at PPS public school because it`s easy for me to ask permission from school if there is a performance at the same time with the class hours.

  • The selection to work at the circus: Normally, during the training, we always join group, the group that can perform is the one that work well with a good story. Before I was in Five Styles group but in 2012, it was separated into two groups- Chill and Adventure. For me, before I can perform, I train only three months. Then the teacher thinks that I have talent with art and he asks me to train with the clown. After three months, I join the performance.

5)      Can you become a circus performer professional and a teacher after your formation?

I cannot say that I can become a professional performer, but I want to be like that. I don`t want to be a teacher here but I and some of my group members want to open a place like PPS in order to teach other children in other area, especially in the rural area, and the border of Khmer- Thai, and Khmer-Vietnam because lots of people haven`t know about the circus yet.


6)      I saw the “Adventure” show. What is the story narrated?

The Adventure show is about the life of a boy who lives in domestic violent family. Every day, his mother always plays game, and his father drunk all the time and also use violence in the family. So, he decided to leave home to Phnom Penh. But he knows nothing about Phnom Penh- he just knows the name only. Related to Phnom Penh, this story is about the small markets there. He tries to find the job to work there from place to place.

Move back to his parents, after they lost their child, they stop playing game and drinking and try to find their child back, but they cannot find their child. Finally, the boy comes back home by himself and he lives with his family happily. The moral of this story is to show about Cambodian lives, and educate people to avoid domestic violence, gambling, alcohol in order to develop their family, and also the society.

7)      I really liked the costumes too! Who chooses the costumes and how?

Related to the costumes, they are chosen by the teacher, the group members, and our clothes designers (Sister Heang and Leap as they work at the theater, so they can suggest good costumes for our performance). So, it`s depend on the teacher, the group members, the designers and the story that we will perform in order to match the dressing and situation together.

8)      The music was so funny too! What is the name of the group? Where can we find and listen the music? CD?

The musicians are in Adventure group. (Normally, each group has their own music band. All the musicians are the students from PPS music school). I don`t think you can find it or buy it as we haven`t record it into CD. You can only hear it at the same time you see our performance. (The instruments that are used for the performance are Tro, Drum, Skor (drum), Roneat, and Khoem. and there are 3 musicians.)


9)      Can you tell me your projects in a near future? What’s your biggest dream?

In the future, I want to open a place just like Phare where the children can learn all kinds of art like circus, visual art, dance, and so on.

  • My biggest dream is I want to be a professional performer, and travel to different place around the world. I want other people know me and Cambodia as well.

10)   What the Phareps circus brings you in your life?

I think PharePS brings a good life for me, because it helps me to know the outside world, art, and also other countries. Moreover, it teaches me to build good communication with other people through art. Also PharePS help me in building my capacity too. Recently, I just know that I`m from the artist family as my grandfather was a musician and also play in the theatre, and my grandmother was an artist in the comedy and theatre. I think my life is good, even I`m not reach or I have everything, at least I`m better that other people. The other feel proud of me and they are happy when they see me, and I`m also happy too at that time, but in fact not really. By the way, I never think that I`m the best, I always think that I still need to learn more from other.



  • Support from PPS: Actually PPS sponsor to 90 children. Before they are living in the association, but because of the new policy from the government, we have to foster care instead of keeping them in the association.
  • Social Worker: They are the one who works directly with the community and choose the children into each project too. They need to communicate with the village chief for each family`s information to find out that which family really needs help from us. Then they need to do the family assessment and follow up. All the child who are in the project have join the public school curriculum as our main goal is to make the children going to school. So, the social workers have to do follow up with the children study- whether they come to school every day or not, and how do they learn?
  • Child Development Centre: it is the informal education as we teach the small children as kindergarten class. As some children have to take care of their small younger brother or sister at home, it`s hard for them to come to school, so they can keep their younger brother or sister here, and join the class. This department also gives such extra class to the slow learners at the public school. The teacher here, teach them more what they have learnt from school. Now, our new kindergarten classes just built and we will move all the small children to study there. Moreover, this department also provides the dancing class to the children also. We have three kinds of dancing here- Khmer traditional dancing, Pop and Classical Dancing.
  • PPS Public School: This school takes place in our association but it`s owned by the government. It`s good for the children too because they can go to the art class any time that they are free from school.


Chenda Chhay !

Chenda Chhay is the new shop manager in Samatoa. This sparkling woman inspires me. I asked her some questions about her life :


1) Hi Chenda! Can you introduce yourself?

I was born in Kompong Thom province, in a village between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. I am now 30 years old. I used to go to school in my village, but I started to study English language at 15 years old, when I left the capital city. My sister supported me (house, food, study).

2) What kind of music do you like? What are your hobbies?

I am Khmer! Of course, I love romantic music! But as i work with foreigners, i can learn many new kind of music.. I love going to market, mostly in Phnom Penh to go shopping and what is new… I also often spend time in the countryside with my husband or with friends.

3) What are your skills?

Selling  and Training!

4) Which languages did you learn?

Khmer! I started to study English when I was around 15 years old. I also knew some Thai language from school, but I really improved when I watched Thai movies and I have already been there.


5) What are your dreams? Professional projects?

As I came from a village, with not a huge educational background, I had to learn everything by myself. Thanks to my family support, I could gone to Phnom Penh to improve myself. I started to work as a waitress, and I have always been sure that I could learn more and more. Now, I have a good position in a good company… I wish to carry on to learn and to improve my life. I am looking forward to show this example to my son. So, he will be able to have even a better life, and he will have good chance to go to study and to have a good job…

6) What are you doing in Samatoa?

I am Retail Manager, I take care of the shop. My objectives are to improve it. I also take care hotel consignment and visit a lot of hotels as we have tailor-made service with them.

7) What do you think about Samatoa?

Samatoa gave me the chance to have the higher position i ever had. I already managed to learn a lot from the owner and the full friendly team. I feel comfortable with the products as they are high quality and good fashioned!

8) If you were a dress in Samatoa, which one would you choose?

I would be more than one, maybe one each day… But my favorite is…


This design really fits me!

9) Which famous designer do you like?

Of course, I love Valentino!

10) What are you doing to be fashion?

I often used to go shopping, I try to go to main cities to visit malls and shops to be aware of the new fashion! I also watch “YouTube” and movies to inspire me!



Rain of laces on Banteay Srei !

Banteay Srei, also called ” The citadel of women “, is a small temple located at 35km from Siem Reap. What a strange atmosphere, when you arrive very early in the morning. The flow of the raindrops between the sculptures of pink sandstone, the silence inside the mandapa, the clotted expression of the Devatas and the Dvarapalas, and the watchmen with a monkey head, give the impression that you are not alone in the Temple.


The temple was built in the 10th century in brick, laterite and sandstone (from the Kulen mountain). The sandstone of Banteay Sreai ranges from pink to red and brown. These three materials weren’t use in the same time.The laterite and the sandstone were used a lot during the Pre-Angkorian period and the Angkorian period. Instead of the brick was used a lot during the Post Angkorian period.


Banteay Srei was a place of worship dedicated to Shiva, and played a role in political, economic and social role as well.


The rumour is that the head of this Devata was stolen, because a man is fallen in love of her beauty…


Durga slaying the Buffalo demon.


Watchmen with a monkey head.


Banteay Srei is surrounded by a moat filled of wonderful Lili flowers and Lotus flowers.


Floodings in Banteay Srei.


Devata from the northern shrine.


Devata from the southern shrine.



Varuna (western lintel, southern shrine).


Abduction of Sita (western lintel, central shrine).




Dvarapala from the central shrine.


The mysterious lake of Kam Pinh Pouy.


The lake of Kamping Pouy is about 30 kilometers of Battambang, between the mountain Phom Kul and Phnom Kam Pinh Pouy, in the Nget village. Even though, the story of the lake is tragic, an other joyful tale is written today. At the beginning, the Khmer rouge built this basin to irrigate the countryside around Battambang. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of prisoners died in the lake. They were threw out in the water, when they died because of malnutrition and diseases. A peaceful and a mysterious mood reigns today on the lotus lake. The sacred flowers have got rid the darkness of, and bought out the light and the immortality of the lake’s depths.

Lake of Kamping Pouy

Besides of its spiritual symbol, the lotus flower has some interesting physical properties, owing to the richness in fibers. These seeds are stored during one millenium. More the flower is cut, more it is grew back. You should know that all the parts of the lotus are edible in the flower. In the traditional chinese medicine, the rhizome is used to avoid the diabetes and the obesity. Also, the seeds are consumed for their antioxidant properties. For the tea lovers, the lotus’s pistils are plucked to flavour the black tea.


A lotus workshop has been created by Samatoa in 2009, when Awen Delaval found a possibility to extract the fibers from the lotus’s stems. Thus, he could built up an exceptional hand-crafted know-how in producing an ecological, a renewable and a natural lotus fiber. See below, two workers clean the stems, before to use them.


Upstream, the lotus’s clipper chooses the young sprouts. He can cut around 30 kilograms per day. He earns a good salary for a countryside’s worker, about the double of the average’s salary in Cambodia.

the lotus's clipper

The lotus’s stem must be dry before its exploitation. First, the worker cuts the stem.


He sets the fibers on the table down. It requires 12 layers to make a lotus fiber. That’s why, he needs to cut around three stems. He rolls up the fibers ‘s layers under his fingers. The difficulty is to make a regular small piece of lotus fiber, without break the thread.

DSCF5668The lotus fiber of Kam Pinh Pouy is one of the best fiber in the world. Its colors are unique. It is rare to find a fiber which can produce at once a white and a grey beautiful thread.


Some statistics:

9,50 kilograms of lotus’s stems can produce 250 meters of thread. One worker can make 230 meters of thread per day.

15 persons work in the lotus workshop.

In a near future, Samatoa would increase the number of staffs, to improve the life of the villagers.

Samatoa hires handicapped persons and offers a formation to people in difficulties.

Samatoa is the only textile’s firme which produces clothes in lotus’s fibers in the world.



To Chreb !

To Chreb is 32 years old. She was born on 2 september 1981 in the Ta Prohm village. She has one old brother, one old sister and three young sisters.  She works as a seller in Samatoa since she is 24 years old.

To Chreb ist 32. Sie ist am 2 September 1981 im Ta Phrom Dorf geboren. Sie hat einen großen Bruder, eine große Schwester und drei kleine Schwestern. Seitdem sie 24 ist, arbeitet sie als Verkaüferin bei Samatoa.


Her mother has 63 years old, and she is none. Usually, in Cambodia, old women often become none in a Pagoda. They go to the Pagoda to pray, to learn about Boudha’s philosophy with the monks and to have good luck.

Ihre Mutter ist 63, und sie ist Nonne. Das kommt im Kambodscha öfter vor, daß alte Frauen in einer Pagode Nonne werden. Sie beten in der Pagode um die Philosophie von Buddha mit dem Mönchen zu lernen, und Glück zu bekommen.


She has never gone to the University. She went to school until 5 years old and had to stop, because she didn’t have money to carry on her schooling. She began to work when she was a child, and she sold some drums, violins, tee-shirts and bracelets. She has never left her village until she was 21 years old, because she didn’t have money to buy a bicycle to work.

Sie war nie auf die Universität. Sie war nur bis fünf in der Schule, weil sie kein Geld mehr hatte. Als sie noch Kind war, fing sie an zu arbeiten. Sie hat Trommler, Geigen, T-Shirt und Armbänder verkauft. Vordem sie 21 Jahre alt war, hat sie nie ihr Dorf verlassen, da sie kein Geld für einen Fahrrad hatte.


Once, a friend of hers, brings her to Siem Reap to work as a waitress for a restaurant. Then, she sold some Chinese souvenirs in the floating villages of the Tonle Sap lake. But she was scared about the wind and the floodings.

Einmal hat einer Freund von ihr sie zu Siem Reap gebracht, damit sie in einem Restaurant als Kellnerin arbeitet. Dann hat sie in den Tonle Sap See übersee Dörfen Souvenirs verkauft. Aber sie hat Angst vor dem Wind und den Überflutungen.


By chance, she found out Samatoa’s shop in Siem Reap, and she dropped off her curriculum vitae. Few days later, she worked for Samatoa, and she didn’t think that she would stay for a long time! Thanks to her first salaries, she could learnt English at Krovan School, a private school in Siem Reap. It cost her 500 riels for one hour. Before, she used to learn English in a Pagoda during 2 years.

Zum Glück hat sie den Laden Samatoa gefunden, wo sie ihren Lebenslauf gelassen hat. Einige Tage später, arbeitet sie bei Samatoa. Sie dacht nicht, daß sie so lang da bleiben würde. Danke ihre erste Gehälter könnte sie in der Privatschule ”Krovan” Englisch lernen. Es kostet ihr 500 ”riels” pro Stunde. Vorher hatte sie zwei Jahre lang Englisch in einer Pagode gelernt.


You should be aware that, in Cambodia, the workers help their family by giving them money. That’s why, Chreb don’t spend her money to help her nieces and cousins to go to school for a long time.

Im Kambodscha helfen die Arbeitnehmer ihren Familien mit Geld. Deshalb gibt Chreb ihr Geld nicht einfach aus. Daher kann sie ihren Nichten und Cousins helfen, damit sie zu der Schule gehen können.


Now, she gets around by motorbike. In Cambodia, you can borrow money to a bank, and repay each month a part of the money. You don’t give anything, just the address of your house.


On this day, Chreb dreams to get a lot of money to build a big house for her mum and her family.


Wishing her the best of luck!


Boat on the Tonle Sap!


Today, Samatoa has received a new volunteer. She will take care of the communication, and she will help Awen to grow his activity around the world, especially with the social network. Also, she will work on the ”Angkor handicraft Fair”, a one-stop shop for some of Cambodia’s most exciting contemporary and traditional handicrafts producers. To get to know the people, Awen suggested us to visit the Tonle Sap on boat. The weather was so fabulous!


Many people live in the floating villages. At the beginning, they came in Tonle Sap to catch the fish every day. To save time, they decided to set up on the river. At the bottom of the houses, there is about 15 meters of water. When it rains, the water’s depth increases about 5 meters. In this case, the floating houses get around and reorganize together.


A lot of crocodile were caught for a few years. People says that, we can’t find any crocodile anymore. But I will not venture to swim in the Tonle Sap river. Sometimes, some crocodile escape from their cage, but they come back on their own, because they are habituated to live inside their enclosure.


Women who live in the floating villages, use water’s hyacinths to make some handicrafts products, such as bags, baskets, boxes, fans, sandals, cushions, hats and carpets. It should be pointed that the water’s hyacinths has originated from South America, and bring out a lot of problem in the world. The boat can’t circulate, because the water’s hyacinths increase quickly.


In 2003, the NGO ”Osmose”, found out that many women use this plants to make some handicrafts products. That’s why, they decided to create an activity around this discovery in the village of Prek Toal and Pech Kantiel. “Saray” is the name of the fair trade cooperative. Thanks to this initiative, the Cambodian’ s know-how, which disappeared during the Khmer rouge genocide, began to revive. Women stopped fishing. Today, they are living thanks to their handicrafts products.


Saray’s cooperative and Samatoa are part of ” Artisan’s Association of Cambodia ” (AAC). This association is a membership-based organisation, consisting of NGOs, small-medium businesses and social enterprises all involved in the production of handmade crafts and accessories. In 2010, Samatoa worked with the Prek Toal’ s cooperative Saray, in combining silk and the water’s hyacinth. You can learn more about this cooperation, in clicking on this link:


There are three goods reasons to produce handicrafts with the water’s hyacinthe:

– the more water hyacinth is used, it is better for the environment.

– products help the women of Prek Toal to diversify their income, it also give them a sense of pride and self-confidence.

– that allows the revival of Cambodian traditional skills.


For 2,50 dollars, people can learn to weave the water’s hyacinths during one hour, with a professional weaver. Even though it’s difficult to establish a verbal communication, a certain complicity takes place in the course of the apprenticeship.