Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Name: Michael Coren

Occupation: Writer

Hometown: San Francisco via Phnom Penh, Cambodia (originally from Vero Beach, Florida)

Diva Minds Want to Know…

1. Where do you like to flirt?

Ruby’s Wine Bar. A vivacious Australian named Tahli opened this place for her friends to drink fine wine and hold good conversations. Everyone took care of the rest. Often packed,
but never too crowded, Ruby’s has a habit of making couples out of
serendipitous friends. Ruby’s Wine Bar, Ang Yukanthor (St. 19) Corner
Str 240 12206 Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

2. Where’s your favorite table for two?

Down the river from the city of Hue in Vietnam, the beach glows with
pools of light from little wooden shacks. The line of rickety seafood
restaurants, surrounded by beached fishing boats ready to depart at
dawn, will seduce anyone at first sight. The South China Sea, a wild
musical selection and impromptu dancing on the warm, wet sand creates
a sublime evening.

3. Where should we stay when we visit (besides your place)?

Raffles Hotel Le Royal. Roam poolside and drink from pachyderm-shaped
glasses at the Elephant Bar. Otherwise bask in French colonial
opulence that vanished in the last century. For the adventurous, young
ex-pats reportedly use the cover of night to skinny-dip in the pool
under the Banyon trees. I ‘d have to deny that if you asked me.

4. What quality do you find irresistible in a woman?

A sense of humor, spontaneity and irrepressible passion.

5. Where can we find you on a free Sunday afternoon? Just roll over?

That, and along the Mekong River. If you’re interested, try the
Foreign Correspondents’ Club on the eastern bank, or my old balcony
down the street by the National Museum.

6. What do you love most about your city (besides our arrival)?

Nothing could be better than your arrival. Really. But a close second
would be knowing without a doubt that whatever seemed impossible
yesterday will probably happen today.

7. What should we bring when we visit your town? What should we leave with?

Bring a passionate love for the absurd; you’ll come out better for it.
A few tablets of pepto bismal and a steel stomach are also helpful.
There is always someone willing to share a meal of tarantulas,
grasshoppers, snakes and snakeheads with you.

Leave Phnom Penh better than you found it. Cambodians are recovering
from a brutal, genocidal regime during the Khmer Rogue era that left
the country in ruins. Some great places to lend a hand, even for a
short while, are:

Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defence of Human Rights, www.licadho.org

Wild Aid, www.wildaid.org/eng

CARE International, www.careinternational.org.uk

American Friend Service Committee, www.afsc.org

8. What do we absolutely have to see while we’re there?

The old French resort of Kep. It’s fallen into disrepair since its heyday in the
1920s, but retains a beguiling charm for even the most jaded traveler.
Also, cruise the Tonle Sap River to Angkor Wat, a temple complex that
rivals the Pyramids.

9. Any areas of town we should avoid?

Feel like slumming it? Go to Boeng Kak Lake or the “Lakeside” and
hang with the backpackers. Had enough cheap drugs, foul accommodations
and tedious patter? Stay away.

10. Any local secrets you want to share?

Cambodia’s secrets are in the search. Start south in Kep, rent a
motorcycle and ride as far as the road will take you.

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