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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cambodian adventures for traveller

Chris Tofield continues his journey through South East Asia

The journey from Langawi Island to Cambodia via Thailand went pretty smoothly. The ferry journey took around 4 hours to Trap (Thailand ).

It was on arrival that the visa situation had changed because visitors to Thailand arriving overland or by ferry would only be granted a 15 day visa. It didn’t bother me as I was just passing through but worth bearing in mind.

Then took a bus to Phuket where I stayed a couple of days. It is set up there very much for tourism and seemed to me the lovely Thai attitude had changed and they were just after your money.

Then we took a bus to Bangkok, which, though a 13 hour journey wasnt too bad as 7 hours of the trip was in a V.I.P. minibus. Very grand and comfortable and leather seats etc, with only two of us travelling.

I did one night in Bangkok, found a decent guesthouse in the backpackers area.

Arranged the trip to Combodia, another bus trip to the border, overnight at guesthouse then 1 a hour ride to the border, paid the visa cost (only accept Thai Bhat-1,200) which is 30 U.S. Dollars. It should be 26 Dollars!

Bus to Sihanouville (4 hours) found a cheap guesthouse downtown called Good Day mate. Air conditioned, telephone and hot water so all the home comforts. There are a lot of guesthouses and hotels in Sihanouville, some on the beaches and some in the town.

Sihanou Ville is relatively new as a tourist destination but has all you need. General mode of transport is tuk tuk or on back of motorbike. Beaches are pretty good and lots of boat trips to various islands scattered around.

I paid 10 dollars for a Booze Cruise which was arranged by Utopia Guesthouse, which seems to cater for the entire backpacking visitors to visit here. Very laid back and friendly.

The booze trip was pretty laid back and friendly as well. I vaguely remember playing footie on the beach of some island and jumping off a cliff into the sea.

So off to Phnom Penn when hopefully will arrange a jungle trek and trip up the Mekong River. New Year was wild.

So far, I am very impressed with Cambodia.
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Pig breeder clinches £1m Cambodia deal

By Mark Casci

AT a time when the welfare standards of Britain's pig farms are being discussed at the highest level, a batch of top quality breeding pigs are being dispatched to the Far East.

Yorkshire-based international pig breeding company ACMC has clinched what is thought to be the first ever deal to ship them to Cambodia.

Worth nearly £1m, the deal will see ACMC's special Meidam and Voltane damlines and Vantage sirelines, plus boars representing all three breeds being sent to the South East Asian country.

The deal has been struck by the Cambodian government as it strives to cope with its expanding population, which is expected to grow from its present 13 million to 16 million by 2015.

The country at present imports 2,000 pigs a day – mostly from neighbouring Thailand.

The news comes at a time when Britain's pig farming industry is striving to reduce the amount of cheap pork entering the country, and to emphasise the high quality of the methods of which pork is reared domestically.

TV chef Jamie Oliver will present a documentary on Thursday this week on the issue, Jamie Saves Our Bacon, during which he spoke to several Yorkshire farmers and butchers.

The project involves the pigs being sent to a new specially designed five-hectare site in the Prey Nop district of Sihanoukville city in the west of the country. The site will house the nuclear herd and which is expected to eventually supply enough commercial AC1 sows to produce 1.1 million slaughter pigs a year. It is also anticipated to provide employment for thousands of people in rural Cambodia.

A spokesman said: "Interestingly, Cambodia will be importing genes, albeit much modified, originally sourced from the Far East.

"More than two decades ago the prolific Chinese Meishan was brought into Europe. Over a 20-year period ACMC used these genetics to create a new breed, the Meidam, to boost productivity. The Meidam is selected with 16 functioning teats and produces 15 per cent more milk than conventional European lines, enabling it to rear more pigs. In Europe, the AC1 has been shown to produce up to 30 pigs per sow."

The spokesman added that ACMC believes it is the only company that has managed to incorporate this ability while maintaining high quality lean carcasses in the finishing generation – and this is what appealed to the Cambodians

A new company has been formed to handle the operation under the name of M's Pig ACMC (Cambodia) Ltd.

The project will also encompass a feed-milling operation with a projected output of 330,000 tonnes a year and a slaughter and processing plant to produce premium quality pork.

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Cambodian police use teargas to evict slum dwellers

PHNOM PENH, Cambodian police fired teargas and eight people were injured on Saturday during the forced eviction of 80 families from a Phnom Penh slum, rights activists and police said. At least two of the eight slum dwellers were seriously hurt in clashes with clean-up crews hired to tear down the dwellings on government land recently sold to a private company. Police cordoned off roads around the area near the Russian embassy, as the 300 workers backed by bulldozers and cranes cleared away the decade-old community. Rights activist Am Sam Ath and witnesses said eight people were injured during the forced eviction, including two seriously hurt and sent to hospital.

Witnesses said an old woman and a boy were hit by a bulldozer, while others were hurt in clashes with the workers armed with clubs and stones. Police denied using excessive force to evict the group, who had waged a 3-year battle against their eviction.

"We did not use violence against them, but tear gas to disperse the people who resisted," Phnom Penh police chief G. Touch Naruth told Reuters.

The eviction came after the squatters rejected the company's offer of $20,000 per family in compensation for the prime 2-hectare (4.9 acres) plot of land facing the Mekong River.

Land disputes are a hot issue in Cambodia, where garment factories and hotels have sprung up to expand the major textile and tourist industries. Last week, police opened fire on farmers protesting against a land grab south of Phnom Penh, wounding two of them, rights activists said. (Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Alex Richardson)
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