Saturday, February 18, 2017

Puppet parade in Siem Reap 2017

The Giant Puppet Project in Siem Reap held its yearly parade yesterday in downtown, starting from the old market through Pub street all the way up to the royal gardens, A lot of schools and NGOs were participating in this. Well done, beautiful giant puppets to see.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The top 5 coffeeshops in Siem Reap

I really like coffee, and I really like to work in a coffeeshop. I always did, even when they were called Cafe. It is the laid back environment what I like, but even when it's crowded I can ignore the noise and just work. Siem Reap is just perfect for my work style, so I thought I make a list of the Top 5 coffeeshops where you can work and where you get great coffee. My benchmark is a) quality of coffee, b) that it's local owned, c) decent internet and d) friendly service. The Top 5 are equally good, but in my opinion stand out compared to others.


This coffeeshop opened just a few months ago and quickly gained attention within the freelancer community, both expats and locals. The coffee at Biolab is excellent and very reasonable priced. Internet connection is extremely good and the service is very friendly and helpful. Located at Wat Bo/corner Street 22. Open every day from 7.30 am. Breakfast and a  basic food menu available.

Noir 306

Based a the Hotel 306 at the corner of National Road 6 and Lok Taney Road this little gem opened last year and is one of my favorite places. Internet is decent, coffee is good (what was a surprise since they use Boncafe, normally not my favorite). There are two meeting rooms attached. Sitting at Noir 306 isn't the most comfortable if you are a lounge guy, but the wooden stools force you to sit straight. Lovely stuff and very good and cheap Khmer food.

Noir 1928

Another new branch of the same brand. They recently opened Nour 1928 on Road 6 corner Achar Sva street, at the gas station. While it's smaller than the branch at Hotel 306, they offer the sample quality and variety of food and drinks. Decent internet speed and the same friendly stuff. Good location just opposite the Royal Gardens.

Temple Bakery

While I do not like the Temple group too much because of their aggressive strategy to expand and their business behavior in Pub street, the Bakery building at Street 25 is well done. The morning shift is great, service goes down pretty quick in the late afternoon and gets - in particular at the sky deck - horrible at night.
If you like to relax, stretch your legs and but you laptop on a pillow, this is the right place for you. Internet is ok, but drops sometimes. Khmer noodle soup with beef  is only 1.50 between 7-9 am and highly recommended. Staff in the morning shift is quote nice and helpful.


This place is a bit far from downtown, but if you live in the area behind Angkor High School its just perfect for you. Located at Sombai Road/Navutu Road TruBlu recently updated their menu and service, and that was a good thing. Relaxed place, even with beanbags to chill, great food with huge portions, the usual range of coffee and fast internet. Stuff is friendly and helpful.


Brown Cafe

Finally they came to Sieam Reap, but my favorite Phnom Penh coffeeshop brand screwed up here.  The building is a total architecture failure, because the blank walls and a high ceiling create a constant noise even with a few people there. Service at this Brown branch is sometimes slow and internet drops. While the quality of the coffee is great and food as well (although pricy), the options mentioned above are still better.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

8 reasons why we should not rescue pagoda dogs and cats

The word of mouth says there are some foreign doctors in town treating pagoda cats and dogs. It was said that no privately owned animals are treated. I think this is a wrong approach. And I tell you why:

1. The reason why dogs and cats have huge litters is because most are supposed to die. That is how it works. Saving them means producing a lot of animals who are unfit for life and reproduction.

2. Let the fittest survive instead of saving the weakest. Locals usually wait a few weeks until they see what cat/dog will survive and keeping it as a pet.

3. By treating pagoda cats and dogs you are actually support the pagoda trade – what means people will continue bringing animals to this place, even if it wasn't meant to be a shelter.

4. Monks accept the animals, but they are a temple, not a animal shelter. Their religious belief  forces them to care but they do it only to still low extent.

5. Rescuing a cat/dog isn't just a one day treatment, but a life long commitment. You don't do that to make you feel good.

6. What is needed is changing habits of locals. You can't do that in a pagoda with foreigners. What is needed is a Khmer owned proper clinic and a Khmer owned proper pet care with dog/cat boarding. Have a look an neighboring countries like Thailand and Laos. The toy dog business (like them or not) made dogs and cats a pet that is accepted in the house - and an investment you care more about. So people start caring about their pets just because their peers do it.

7. Pagodas do not provide medical service. A one day event (beside spay and neuter) doesn't change anything. Money is better spend in supporting/setting up a local clinic with a qualified vet and proper equipment.

8. Siem Reap as any other places in Cambodia needs better equipment and better diagnostic tools for pet care. As long as you can't get blood tested here or an x-ray, those one-day events are useless.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Commute on Yamaha XTZ through outskirts of Siem Reap in Cambodia

My ride from my home to the supermarket on a Yamaha XTZ

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How to improve animal welfare in Siem Reap with market thinking

Fully aware that I "just" arrived in Cambodia in June 2016, I think it's still worth to share some thoughts and observe rations regarding pets and how to treat them in Cambodia –  mainly dogs since this is my field of passion.

I moved to Cambodia in 200, moved then to Vietnam and lived in Laos and Thailand for three years each. We always had  our two dogs with us, and in Laos the pack grew to four and in Thailand to five dogs. Living in Siem Reap means there is no registered local vet, there is a lot of parvovirus and rabies and other diseases. But there is also hope.

Buntha is quite busy these days since parvo virus is spreading.
I visit frequently Buntha, who studied veterinary medics for a while, but did not graduate. He runs a local vet clinic and serves hundreds of animals a month. The clinic is very basic, not lab, not surgery table (he is not allowed to use anesthesia medicine). People come when the dog is sick, and he does his best. But there is not much of a awareness for the need of prevention, like vaccinations.

So here are my initial conclusions how to improve the welfare of dogs in Siem Reap.

1. Time will heal. My experience in other neighboring countries was that when living conditions change, pet care will follow. People start moving into apartments and taking pets with them. That reduces the risk of infections, but also increases the quality of living conditions because it is a more clean environment. And since a lot of those pets are so called toy dogs which cost a lot, people start caring more about there "investment". So behavior changes, first in the upper middle class, but they are always the first to do.

2. Improve and support local initiatives. I donated some cages (and other did too) to Buntha's clinic, so the dogs do not have to share a metal bed where feces and urine is dropping on the concrete floor. There is still a need for a big cage, in case you want to support too. (Leave a comment if you are interested, its about 45 Dollar)

3. On a longer term, Siem Reap needs a local registered vet who runs a clinic as a business. That includes money making services like grooming and even boarding. My friend Analin did this at just without a resident vet in Vientiane. Right now, nobody wants to take the risk of an investment (Angkor Vets did on a small scale). My idea was to give a loan and/or becoming a shareholder if money is an issue, but it still needs the right person. Education in veterinary medicine is of low quality, most students never do a surgery during their studies, and the focus is largely on live stock rather than pet animals. And since Siem Reap is considered province for Phnom Penh students, they like to stay in the city and get a job in bank.

4. There is a need of awareness, but I think it needs to be marketed instead of education. People in general jump on everything that is marketed nicely. So instead of teaching pet owners about viruses, diseases and reproduction, a more business style approach would help more. Make a poster offering 5 percent discount for vaccinations during a certain period. Give discounts for vaccinations of more than two animals. Start issuing a member ship card and collect email addresses so you can send newsletters with new offers. Make brochures with incentives, offer a coupon while explaining why vaccination is important. Give people a card with the five most important signs that the dogs is sick and a emergency phone number. 
It took 6 days and a 12 Dollar "investment" to save this dog after a parvo infection.
The owners detected it early, called me and I took him to the vet every day.
In exchange, I got water melons and morning glory. 

5. Never give up. I spend some hours at Buntha's clinic with sick dogs from my neighbors I take care of. Since waiting time is about an hour, I could observe a lot. Local Khmer people care a lot about there dogs, that's why they go to the vet. It's only mostly too late. They also pay for treatment, so there is awareness that service isn't free. This  means there is a local market, it just needs better served.

What I will do is soon make a small leaflet in Khmer language to sell vaccinations. Next will be one about spay and neuter. Simple language, few pictures, straight to the point. Not sure about printing costs, maybe I can cover it myself. Als I try to reach out to vets in Phnom Penh figuring out if they would be interested to open a business in Siem Reap.

I do not think that visiting vets or nurses will make a change. It might help short term as the World Vets and the GeoVets did, but I strongly believe this is a local issue and shall and can be solved by Khmer people.

These are my thoughts form observations I made. I may be totally wrong – in this case please tell me why in the comments field. Also, please comment if you just disagree with me, or if you have any suggestions and further information.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A dogs death and a generous donation

There are days when you don't really know what the meaning of what you experienced was. Today I went to the vet care to get more injections for the neighbors puppy I take care of (he is getting better). When I picked the puppy up at neighbors house a guy approached me asking if I was a doctor. "No,  sorry", I said, "I just bring the dogs to the doctor." He seemed to be very distressed and told me his dog is very sick and the foreign vet is out of town and someone told him to look for me.

Busy day at Bunthas clinic. 
So I told him that I am on the way to the vet care anyway. When I arrived, his dog, a 6 month old Rottweiler, was already there on two drips. The dog had parvovirus and was in a very bad state. The guy said he got the dog from China and was told he was vaccinated - what he was obviously not.

At the same time a young lady came passing by with her bicycle. He stopped, looked at the vet care sign, looked at me and asked me if this was a a vet clinic. I explained her what Ok Hok Sy Veterinary clinic is, told her about the Rottweiler and the threat of parvovirus in Siem Reap and South-East-Asia in general. She was clearly impressed and offered a generous donation for some free vaccinations.

An hour later I came back to the vet just to see how the Rottweiler was doing, but as I feared, he passed away already. His owner was with him all the time, cleaning him, holding him, but the virus had progressed too far.

Another hour later I saw the lady again and she told me she donated 160  USD for vaccines and Bunthas work (yes, she said she wants to pay for his work as well, something I really support).

So, out of the bad news came something good. At least seven dogs will get vaccinated for free soon. But many more need to.

P.S.: I believe that donations help short term, and they are necessary. But long term only behavior change will help, and that means that local people need  to pay for vaccinations. It already starts – as it did in Thailand - with pedigree dogs, because they are expensive. Other dogs will follow, and it will turn into common knowledge. I am working on a small leaflet that explains in simple words why a rabies and parvovirus vaccinations is so important. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I took Neighbors puppy to the vet again.

Will get treatment for a week for 2.50 USD a day. Let's hope he will recover. Suspected parvovirus infection. Just learned vaccination will be 12 USD, what is less then the 30USD I was told before. If he survives he will get vaccinated and castrated. #makeachange #blog #khmerdog #streetdog #animals #pets #cambodia #animalrescue #blog

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