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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Border trade zone draws thousands

AN GIANG — The official opening of the Tinh Bien Commercial Zone in An Giang Province today coincides with a festival to promote high quality Vietnamese goods in the Tinh Bien area that borders Cambodia.

The 10ha commercial zone with duty-free businesses attract 1,500 visitors every day.

Forty-three companies have registered to conduct business in the zone, representing a total of more than VND350 billion (US$19.5 million) in registered capital. Twenty-four of them have begun operations.

Domestic and international tourists are allowed to buy imported products at the supermarket in the Tinh Bien Commercial Zone, and are exempt from import taxes, value-added tax and special consumption taxes for the first VND500,000 of purchases.

The two-day festival of Vietnamese goods attracted 60 Vietnamese businesses to display high quality goods, including textiles and garments, footwear, handicrafts, chemicals, foodstuff and construction materials.

The festival is part of Viet Nam’s efforts to enhance exports and duty-free sales to Cambodia, according to organisers.

Participating enterprises could take the opportunity to promote trade and explore distribution channels, said the An Giang People’s Committee chairman, Lam Minh Chieu.

Cambodian distributors can also sign import deals at the event.

Nguyen Minh Tri, head of the zone’s management board, said the fair played a significant role in the export of Vietnamese goods to Cambodia.

During the fair, Hau Giang Pharmaceutical Joint-Stock Company and An Giang Province’s General Hospital will provide free health check-ups for 400 poor residents living in Cambodia’s border area.

The organisers will also take preventive measures against swine flu during the event.

An Giang, sharing a 94-km-long frontier with Cambodia, is home to five international and national border gates, including Tinh Bien, Vinh Xuong, Khanh Binh, Bac Dai and Vinh Hoi Dong.

The province said total export turnover of commodities transported via the five border gates in the first eight months of 2009 was US$438 million. — VNS
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Lasers the weapons of choice in battle to preserve world heritage sites

By Paul Gallagher

Scientists are to record three-dimensional models of world heritage sites so that they can be recreated if they fall victim to climate change, natural disaster, war or terrorism.

The team of six Scottish scientists - from Historic Scotland and the Glasgow School of Art - will team up next month with an American company, CyArk, to shoot laser beams at Mt Rushmore in South Dakota.

They will create a 3D model accurate to within 3mm, digitally preserving the carved faces of former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln should they need to be repaired.

Funding for the project was rushed through because of concerns over the deterioration of the granite rockface.

CyArk has identified several other "at-risk" sites, including the Acropolis in Athens, threatened by acid rain, and Machu Picchu in Peru, which suffers from excessive tourism. Pollution, over-expansion and deforestation may have permanently damaged Tikal National Park in Guatemala, one of the largest archaeological remains of the pre-Columbian Maya civilisation.

CyArk's aim is to create 3D models of 500 sites around the world in a five-year project.

Work began this year on scanning the underworld of Rome, 170km of winding catacombs dating back two millennia, and the Zapotec capital of Monte Alban, in Mexico.

Other sites proposed for digital mapping include Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Khmer temple complex built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Thebes in Egypt and Pompeii, the Roman town buried by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius.

The Scottish team has already created 3D models of Stirling Castle and Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian, Scotland.

Scanning is almost complete on New Lanark's world heritage site, a restored 18th-century cotton mill in southern Scotland. Once work is complete at Mount Rushmore in October, the team will move to Skara Brae, "the heart of Neolithic Orkney", on an island north of Scotland, which is under threat from coastal erosion.
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If you're travelling around the region by boat, there's one publication that you must have

Writer: By Alan Parkhouse

Newspaper section: BrunchIn the past 20 years Thailand has become the boating capital of Asia, with both locals and foreigners taking to the sea in large numbers. Some prefer to sail yachts and enter the many annual regattas held in Thailand, while others prefer a boat with a motor and go cruising along the coastlines or weave their way through the country's many small islands.

One thing both groups have in common - apart from being surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world - is the need for a comprehensive guide book. They need to know where it's too shallow to go, where to drop anchor for the night, where to get fuel, food and water, and most importantly, where there are reefs or rocks that will send their boats down to Davy Jones' locker if they're not careful.

For many years the guide book many used and swore by was the Andaman Sea Pilot. Now the third edition of this book has been released and it has been updated and expanded to cover a much larger area, and given a new name. It went on sale last month after an official launch party - aboard a boat, of course - during the annual Phuket Raceweek Regatta.

It is now called Southeast Asia Pilot, and since its launch in Phuket last month orders have been flooding in from skippers and boat owners around the world.

"We call it the Sailors' Bible and I wouldn't go to sea anywhere in Southeast Asia without it," says Captain Marty Rijkuris, who runs the hugely popular internet sight, which covers all aspects of sailing in Asia.

The latest edition of the book covers approximately two million square miles and nine countries, with detailed information about marine conditions in Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and India's Andaman Islands. There is also a lot of detail on the best east-west routes through southern Indonesia.

For those sailing to Thailand from Australia or New Zealand, or coming from Sri Lanka or India in the west, this book is a must have.

Between the maps and charts is a wealth of information, covering everything from where to anchor through the day and at night, if a water supply is available, seaside restaurants, transport and even diving and snorkling locations.

Even for a non-sailor this book makes fascinating reading, and it's easy to see that the two experienced men who wrote this book have really done their homework.

For example, one section on the sea gypsies, or the Moken people, in southern Burma, reads: "We occasionally come across the Moken in the Mergui Archipelago. They pull into a nearby beach in their flotilla of boats. Adults, children, cats, dogs, chickens and ducks leap off each boat and rush into the jungle to forage. Suddenly, at some hidden signal, people and animals come rushing back out of the forest and jump on the boats just before they leave for another anchorage.

"Sometimes the Mokens cautiously approach our yacht with a gift of rock oysters or the haunch of a wild bear after a successful hunt. They are always delighted when we give them a gift in return - a roll of cloth or a dive mask. If the Moken do not approach you they want to be left alone."

The book's two authors, Englishman Andy Dowden and Australian Bill O'Leary, who also took the beautiful pictures in the guide, are both colourful characters with a wealth of experience on the water.

O'Leary, a professional mariner, sailed to Thailand from Australia in 1987 aboard a sleek yacht called Stormvogel, which was featured in the Hollywood film Dead Calm. O'Leary helped with the filming off Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef before sailing the yacht to Phuket.

He then joined the up-market Amanresorts as founder and general manager of Amancruises, the original luxury powerboat charter business in Phuket which caters to the rich and famous.

For more than 20 years he built and commissioned scores of local and imported charter vessels and trained more than 150 Thai crew, before retiring early this year.

Dowden left the UK in 1981 aboard his own 46-foot sloop to cruise the world and arrived in Thailand for the first time in 1984 after several years of cruising Southeast Asia. In 1989 he set up a yacht services and boat building business in Phuket and wrote a number of cruising guides for the local waters.

Dowden has spent 25 years sailing the waters of Thailand and Malaysia and is still involved in the yachting industry, helping to organise two of the country's most popular regattas and running the annual International Boat Show in Phuket.

"Bill and I put a lot of hard work into every edition of this book because we both realise what a great advantage it is to have on a boat," Dowden told Brunch. "Apart from all our own research, we invited a select number of well qualified voyagers to update facilities and opportunities in this rapidly developing cruising destination.

"The best professionals have created detailed, helpful and accurate charts and a logical, easy to use, layout style."

Southeast Asia Pilot is available at most leading bookstores, or it can be ordered direct from the website,
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Two French men held on underage sex charges in Cambodia - Summary

Phnom Penh - Two French nationals were questioned at a Phnom Penh court on Saturday on charges of soliciting sex from a minor and producing child pornography. Both crimes carry the possibility of lengthy jail sentences. The head of the municipal police's anti-trafficking department, Keo Thea, said both men would be charged by the court on Sunday.

"They were questioned today on the first charge of having sex with a 16-year-old girl and on the second charge of making child pornography," Keo Thea said.

The men, named by the Cambodia Daily newspaper as 62-year-old Michel Jean Raymond Charlot and 60-year-old Claude Jean-Pierre Demeret, were arrested after Charlot solicited a 16-year-old at a well-known red-light district in Phnom Penh and brought her back to his guesthouse.

The girl then told the police about Demeret.

Police searched the room at the guesthouse where Demeret was staying and found a collection of sexually explicit videos and photographs of him, most of which the police said were taken in Thailand.

A search of Charlot's room uncovered a collection of similar photographs and videos.

Keo Thea earlier told national media that their arrests were a significant success for the police.

"[Demeret] confessed that he had actually taken a lot more pictures in Thailand than in Cambodia," Keo Thea told the Cambodia Daily, adding that police believed the images were made for commercial purposes rather than, as the men had claimed, their own entertainment.

Police said evidence against the men included children's underwear and toys, as well as dozens of videos of the suspects and numerous sexually explicit photographs of the men with what police believe are children in Thailand.

Cambodia has long been seen as an easy place for foreigners to procure sex with minors, which under Cambodian law that combats sexual exploitation is anyone under the age of 18. In recent years the authorities have cracked down on the problem.

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Tuned In: Professor explores ancient civilizations in "Out of Egypt"

By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PASADENA, Calif. -- Discovery Channel lucked into a sellable concept with "Out of Egypt," a new series hosted by youthful UCLA assistant professor of Egyptian art and architecture Dr. Kara Cooney.

She's not quite Lara Croft -- unless Croft makes near-constant hand motions that, from a distance, make her look like she could be dribbling a basketball -- but her presence does make the hour-long ancient history lesson more palatable.

Cooney takes viewers down narrow, claustrophobic tunnels beneath Egyptian pyramids but also to structures that have been built around the world, from Aztec temples in Mexico to Cambodia's Angkor Wat.

"There aren't mystical or supernatural links but there are common features," Cooney says, explaining why we see tall buildings in multiple cultures. "They wanted tall monuments that would last but they were hampered by the limits of ancient engineering," which dictated a structure that's wide at the base and narrow on top.

She also links these ancient buildings to skyscrapers in the modern world.

"We really wanted to ask global questions, big questions that bring all of these ancient and modern people together," she said at a press conference earlier this month. "It's a study of human behavior past and present, human behavior all over the world. Egypt is the anchor but it's the entire globe."

Cooney was quick to add that "Out of Egypt" (9 and 10 p.m. Monday) doesn't posit direct connections but commonalities.

"A lot of people look at this and they say, 'Oh, so you think the Egyptians went to Mexico and that's why there are pyramids there.' No, no, no," Cooney said. "This is a show about humans coming to similar solutions to complex problems completely disconnected from one another. It's about human behaviors through time all over the globe that can be amazingly similar and sometimes surprisingly different."

Cooney said UCLA has been supportive of her work on the series.

"Education and entertainment are not mutually exclusive, and we as professors need to take this content into our own hands," she said. "If we don't, we have no one else to blame when we see something on television that represents the Aztecs or the Egyptians or somebody else in a light that we think is inauthentic or inaccurate or just plain wrong; the aliens coming to visit, whatever."

But doing a TV show doesn't count toward tenure for a professor such as Cooney.

"I still have to produce my second book," she said. "That's a very, very important part of getting tenure. But, being a young assistant professor, I also know that when I go into a classroom of 200 students and I'm talking about Egypt and the ancient world, I know what they have seen on television. That's their entrée into this. So I have to be able to meet that mind and connect with those students."
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