Capturing Cambodia’s essence


The roaring of motorcycle engines floods the streets of Phnom Penh. Cheap market stalls, some afloat, some grounded, more or less diverge from water to land. The intoxicating scent of freshly made steamed noodles collides with harmonizing aroma of coconut-milk-base with a hint of chilli, nourishing your senses. Street sellers circulate around the city like sharks on the hunt ready to attack their prey, selling tourists the latest and greatest on their business, products or services. Unwashed children carry baskets of cheap bracelets and postcards alongside the muddy streets, persuading you buy whatever they have to offer, convincing you with their innocent faces it was right to buy those meaningless knickknacks, although you immediately regret it afterwards.

The soul of Cambodia is like no other. There is no guide that can speak of what to expect unless you experience it yourself, first hand. The curves of the mountains highlight the untouched earth that compliments the vibrant colour of its culture, for those who seek adventure and history, Cambodia is the place to be. Unspoiled islands mark the Cambodian coastline and small quaint towns merge among with one another in the remote countryside. The tropical flora and fauna land covers about two-thirds of the country, the other half is a hustle and bustle of city life.

 Leaving Phnom Penh, charcoal smoke floats behind the long narrow motor boat following the gusty wind. Revealed along the banks of the Mekong River are small villages set amongst open fields. Families fish together alongside the riverbank, holding homemade spears and nets.

The country is affected by two distinct seasons that are relatively equal length of time throughout the year, a Rainy Season and a Dry Season. The Dry Season is divided into two sub-seasons, cool and hot. The Rainy season is from: June till October (27-35.C),The Dry season (cool):From November till February (17-27.C) The Dry season (Hot) :From March till May (29-38.C).

Cambodia is home to 14.8 million people. On the wild streets of the city, everywhere you turn is a continuous motion of tuk tuks, travelling motorcycle taxis with cabins attached to the rear. The lively tuk tuks run all day and all night, riding on the rocky roads there is no doubt you will crossways with wild animals on the streets – alive and cooked.

The food resources in Cambodia are not as diverse as some western cultures, so people use what they have to survive. Bowls filled with deep fried insects such as crickets are a street snack. Hand size spiders are considered a delicacy in the traditional cuisine, piles and piles of black, long legged creatures are displayed on a moving cart with bells and whistles on the hand crafted wooden trolley. 

In the town of Siem Reap, the Angkor Night Markets are filled with people experiencing the nightlife. This fairly new flea market appeals to tourists and locals: unique silk, art, jewellery, clothing, souvenirs and more. The markets are claustrophobic, small arcade-like tents. The further you go into the maze of kaleidoscope trinkets, the more you become consumed by the heat.

As nightfall draws near, you may get tired of walking around all day and need a rest. Cambodia is famous for their foot fish massages. Foot fish massages are a once in a lifetime experience. For A$3-4, people sit on the edge of a Jacuzzi, a multicolour lightshow beams through the tub, filled with little fishes swimming around in the warm waters. The tiny fish nibble at the dry dead skin on your feet, like millions of little kisses.


ANZAC rookies frustrate fans

New Zealand squad chosen by Kearney. Photo by S.J Alexander


Stephen Kearney has frustrated Rugby League fans with an apparent façade over questionable selections for New Zealand’s ANZAC clash. The most notable being the axing of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

Surviving Student Life: Mr. Mug Brownie


You know those times, you’re sitting in front of the television, on your phone, wrapped in a blanket and you really feel like cake or a brownie or something chocolaty? But you’re lazy. Man, you cannot be bothered to spend time baking a cake and waiting half an hour for it to cook. You want something, now. This is where you and your new best friend, Mr. Mug Brownie become acquainted. You only need a few basic ingredients that you will probably just find around the kitchen.

Get ready to have your mind blown.



  • A mug (Come on, you have to have one of these)
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • A dash of salt
  • 4 tbsp of granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder (may need a trip to the grocery store for this one)
  • 4 tbsp of plain flour


Place all the ingredients straight into the mug. Dry ingredients first, and then add the rest. Mix well! You only need to put this bad boy in the microwave for about a minute, maybe a few seconds more (depending on your microwave) before your beautiful mug brownie is ready for consumption.

Hear that? That’s the sound of us blowing your min

If you have some vanilla ice-cream in the freezer, pop a scoop on top.

Beware: Once you have made your first mug brownie, it probably will become one of your favourite snacks and you may find yourself wanting another one very soon.


Student Apps of the Week

Tap Tap Revolution. One of the most important apps to increase a student’s finger dexterity. Feature image: Cristiano Betta/Flickr 


by Dios Lacap

Reporting in for ‘Student Apps of the Week’ volume 1! It’s the beginning of a new week and everyone’s ready for the week ahead of them. For those that are unaware, Student Apps of the Week is a list of current applications for both iOS/Android that range from fun to useful.

This list will contain information about each application mentioned. One thing to note, all applications mentioned here will be free. There will be no need to pay for any of them. There is no specific order as well. Now with that out of the way, let’s get started!

1. SoundCloud

As the title suggests, it’s a music application. This is a nice alternative for those who forgot to add songs to their phone. With this application, you’re able to stream songs in high quality unlike the Youtube application where the sound quality is downgraded.

All you need to do is to make an account on SoundCloud (which is quick and easy) and you’re all set. The best part of it all is that there is a vast library of songs that choose from here. It’s a music sharing sites so users upload all the content. Whether you’re into grunge, classical or even country music, you’ll be able to find the songs that you and enjoy them.


2. TripView Lite

This little application contains the timetables for buses, trains and even ferries all over NSW. With this app, you’re able to easily plan your trip as it’s constantly updated whenever there’s a change in the timetable. The interface is nice and simple, making it easy to navigate. If you’re a regular commuter, this application isa must.

3. Salvo Saga (Danmaku)

Sometimes it’s hard being a TAFE student and you just wanna relax for a bit whether you’re at home or on the train. With this game, you can do just that. Salvo Saga (Danmaku) is a game where you control a spaceship with the touch of your finger and your goal is simply to make it to the end. However, there a lots of obstacles in your way. Enemy ships, rocks, lasers and bombs. It’s up to you to bring your spaceship to safety and destroy anything in your way.

A huge plus with the game is that you have over 100 levels of play and it’s all for free. If you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced game to pass the time, this is it.

4. GroupMe

Communication is absolutely essential in this day and age. GroupMe allows communication to happen. So what does GroupMe offer that the famous WhatsApp doesn’t?

One difference, it’s free for life. WhatsApp is only free for one year then you have to pay.

GroupMe is a phone app where all students can receive text messages from each other and everyone can see them. It’s an alternative to the online chat messenger, It’s great if you want to organise a get together with friends.

5. InkPad

As the name implies, InkPad is essentially a digital notepad for your phone. Rather than carrying a physical one, why not just save some space in your pocket and have your phone as a notepad?

There isn’t much to say about this other than it’s simple and easy to use, making it a wonderful app for TAFE students.

6. Space Intruders

Space Intruders is a variation of the infamous classic ‘Space Invaders’. You control a small spaceship and you have to shoot all the alien ships before they reach Earth. It’s a game with simple controls and mechanics making it easy to pick up and play. It has a very classic look, using pixels as graphics. It’s a great way to entertain yourself on the train. Go ahead and give it a try.

7. Google Chrome

Now this app may sound silly but it deserves a place on this list. Why? Because the default browser can be very slow and unresponsive. Chrome is a much faster and better alternative for your browser needs. Like many of the apps here, interface is simple and clean making it easy to use. Searching that random word on Google could never be easier.

8. Sonic Dash

Sonic Dash is a game where you control SEGA’s famous mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, and help him reach the goal. It’s an auto-run game where you have to avoid all obstacles thrown at you. You control Sonic with your finger and tap the screen to jump. There’s also a leaderboard where you can post your score and compare it among friends! It’s an entertaining game that will offer hours of play.

9. Brave Frontier

The game Brave Frontier is a role-playing game set in a fantasy world and you command a party of heroes that set out on a journey to take down an evil force. It’s not a complex story but it works for what it is. The main appeal of this game is the battles between the heroes and monsters. Each battle requires strategy to conquer. The game requires you to know your enemies weaknesses and strike when it benefits you most. A very entertaining game if you love dragons and magic.

10. Final Fantasy: All The Bravest

The latest game app from Square Enix, Final Fantasy is one of Square Enix’s largest series and now you can control a huge army made up of all the characters from Final Fantasy. The game pits your army against the warriors of evil and it’s your job as the player to take them down. A very fun game and it’s a game that absolutely anyone can play.


Photos by Dios Lacap

Breaking News | April 14

Missing: Australia’s Humanity. Artwork: Hugh Widjaya/Tumblr


Man sets himself on fire after visa rejected

By Hugh Widjaya


A Sri Lankan asylum seeker in his 20s is in a critical condition after setting himself on fire in inner western Sydney, Wednesday evening.

After finishing work at the Balmain dockyards, the cleaner, only identified as Janathanan, doused himself in petrol, then set himself alight. Co-workers did their best to put out the flames, but he suffered first degree burns to 70% of his body.

The Tamil asylum seeker had been living in Australia for the past 18 months on a bridging visa, and had been told Monday that his application for a protection visa had been rejected a second time.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Thompson said the Refugee Review Tribunal, who made the final visa decision, did not fear for the Sri Lankan’s mental health. Attempts are being made to contact and allow the Sri Lankan’s 65 year old mother and brother to enter Australia to be with Janarthanan.

Currently there are 20 0000 Tamil asylum seekers in Australia on bridging visas, who fear torture should they go back to Sri Lanka. The Tamils, who fought for independence against the Sri Lankan military were finally defeated after a 26 year long war in 2009, which killed between eighty to a hundred thousand people.


Could books become extinct?

Losing books … like losing an art form. Photo: Kate Ter Haar/flickr
Losing books … like losing an art form. Photo: Kate Ter Haar/flickr


Bookstores are in trouble. The publishing industry is in the throes of some pretty major changes, with the full effects to take years to play out. Publishers are downsizing, booksellers aren’t thriving like once before, even distributors are feeling the pressure. The Internet has revolutionised every industry it has come into contact with. And the publishing industry is just one example. Similar to the transition from LPs to cassettes to CDs in the music industry, the move from printed books to digital books will alter the publishing industry and change the way money is made.

Losing books would be like losing an art form, like walking into an art gallery to find that there are no canvases hanging on the walls and there aren’t any sculptures. There’s nothing to physically see because everything is on a screen, digitised. The strokes aren’t made with a paint brush, but a computer mouse. The paint isn’t paint at all, but pixels. The emotion isn’t captured but is spurious. Books matter.

Australian publishers have had to cut costs wherever possible in order to sustain their businesses. Cuts include decreasing the number of titles published annually as well as publishing more conservative print runs, says book industry veteran Karen Young.  But the future of Australian bookstores depends on Australian publishing industry, which doesn’t come without its own concerns: Australia’s isolation, relatively small population and the subsequent cost of producing books for sale. We can’t produce books as cheaply as the US or Europe can, which is why online sites such as Amazon and Book Depository can afford and maintain their prices. Since buying online has become an option, customers have wholly welcomed and actively sought out sites such as Book Depository and Amazon because of convenience, price and variety. A book online sometimes works out to be cheaper than in store, even with shipping and tax included.

Trade paperbacks are cheaper than hardbacks, but in the US even those sales are down from a high of $128.8 million in 2006 to $81.2 million in 2011. Mass-market paperbacks are cheaper, often priced at just $7-$8 a book, but sales have declined from $59.5 million in 2008 to only $29.3 million in 2011.

The second-largest chain in the US, Borders, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced its liquidation in 2011. The largest chain Barnes & Noble closed a number of stores and is only showing growth in online sales. Early last year the company disclosed plans to shut a third of its stores in the next 10 years. In Australia, REDgroup retail, the parent group for Borders and Angus & Robertson, stunned the market when it was placed into voluntary administration only a day after the collapse of Borders in the US. The US and Australian failures are not linked as they’re owned by different corporations, but both suffered from the rise of Internet book sales and reduced consumer spending. When a chain bookstore goes down, no one’s grinning, especially when it takes a whole lot of others with it. With the fall of Borders, uncertainty hovers over other stores, both independents and corporate, here and overseas. Waterstones, for example, closed a number of stores since 2011, was sold, moved to another country, and was finally sold again in order to survive.

Because Australian publishers have had to cut costs wherever possible in order to sustain their businesses, retailers’ profits have taken a hit and left many owners financially unable to keep their bookstores open. Because independent stores aren’t controlled by strict profit or loss decisions, they’re able to do what the chains can’t. Karen Young says that smaller retailers know their customers and understanding their reading habits, and often have good staff who like to read and chat. Many offer space to sit and browse and host events. “Independent stores are able to maintain their business by creating a community around books,” Ms Young says.

The downside is that in order to keep the doors open books tend to be more expensive. Other factors include increased rent prices, which have rendered already-struggling bookstores to close. The number of independent bookstores gracing our streets has declined as a result of the publishing industry being at risk. According to the Booksellers Association last year 67 local bookshops closed, while just 26 opened. Kate Adams at Newtown independent bookshop Better Read Than Dead says that without the support of the community, and without finding small ways to adapt to the industry changes, bookshops do struggle. “So long as bookshops adapt – and that can include fighting against eReaders, or simply becoming more involved with the community such as we try to do here – I think they have a future.” she says.

E-readers have been around since the late 1990s but didn’t take off until Amazon got into the game with the Kindle. The publishing and bookselling industries have obviously been hugely affected since 2011, when eBooks such as the Fifty Shades Trilogy became incredibly popular and spurred on the adoption of eReaders within Australia. Now with markets saturated with handheld devices and a strong demographic to its name, many Kindle eBooks are available for less than half the price of the hard copy. And eBooks aren’t only cheap, they’re also very portable.  “Why carry 10 books on a trip when I can have a Kindle and have hundreds in my hand?” asks Daniel Harding, reader and soldier in training.

Some readers aren’t convinced. Book lover Chris Quips De Peau says the concept of eReaders appeals to him, but he doesn’t actually enjoy using one. “I’d much prefer a book in my hands and pages between my fingers,” he says. “They are more convenient. You can’t argue [with] that. They are better on every level, except on sentimental and aesthetic grounds.”

At Better Read Than Dead a mother is reading The Hungry Caterpillar to her little girl. “Introducing books just isn’t the same when its digital,” the woman says. “Their eyes don’t light up the same, and they don’t really interact, and it doesn’t affect them the same either.”

Pacific Solution no solution for Hazaras

No safety: Hazara people are targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Photo: Daniel Schmidt, ABC Open producer/flickr



Ali* is a man living in limbo. There is nowhere, he can call home, and he is living in Millburn on a bridging visa, with an unknown future. He is a Hazara asylum seeker, originally from Afghanistan, but he was living in Pakistan, before he came to Australia. Since 2009 Hazara people were not targeted only in Afghanistan, they were also targets in Pakistan, and they flee Pakistan too. He escaped from Pakistan in 2012 and arrived in Australia after the reintroduction of the Pacific Solution by Julia Gillard’s government.  Ali was in detention on Christmas Island when his 17-year-old daughter was killed in Hazara town’s bomb blast in 16 February 2013.

Australia signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, in 22 January 1954; And Australia is one of the important partners of UNHCR. Since that Australia is destination of many asylum seeker around the world, particularly from Middle East, central Asia, (especially from Afghanistan) and Africa. But in 1998 Asylum seeker issue started to become a controversial topic in Australia.

The Norwegian ship MV Tampa rescued 439 Afghan asylum seekers from international waters. Captain Arne Rinnan attempted to dock at Christmas Island but was refused entry into Australian waters by Prime Minister John Howard, who insisted the passengers must land elsewhere and sent the SAS onto the container. This resulted in a diplomatic dispute between Australia, Norway, and Indonesia and global media coverage. The asylum seekers were eventually loaded onto a Royal Australian Navy vessel, and were transported to detention centres in Nauru as part of what became known as the Pacific Solution.

Most Afghan asylum seekers who were sent to Nauru were Hazara,  one of the most persecuted people in the world. Mohammad* was one of the Hazara asylum seekers who were on Tampa and spent one and half years on the island. “There was no hope, Australia was not going to accept us, and we didn’t have any other option,” he said.  “The only thing we could was, to go back home.”

Mohammad went back to Afghanistan but was forced to leave again. His wife and two children, aged 5 and 7, were living illegally in Iran as asylum seekers.  He went to Iran but stayed there for only three months.  Iran was not a good place for him. He was arrested by Iranian official Authority and they sent him into detention. Finally he left his family behind and, came back to Afghanistan. This time he had no choice to where else must go.

In the end of 2008 Mohammad left Afghanistan again and this time he went to Pakistan. Ultimately, he came to Indonesia and came to Australia trough UNHCR’s program from Indonesia.  He described Nauru as hell, and remembered the cruelty of Australia’s government and its attitude towards people who need protection.

The Pacific Solution first introduced in September 1, 2001 by John Howard’s government, and reintroduced by Julia Gillard’s government on 14 August 2012. As part of the Pacific Solution, since august 2012 thousands of asylum seekers were sent to Manus Island and Nauru, and ten thousands other are released with bridging visa, with an unknown futures. 

“It is difficult that you do not know what will happen to you and what would be your destiny.  We are the people who have no choice and it was the only option that we have. Because of this reason we put ourselves in danger and take boat to reached Australia,” Ali said.  On 18 February 2014 asylum seekers protested in Manus Island, which case one death (Raza Barati) and 77 injuries. 
*Names have been changed

Dirk the Dangerous NBA Dagger

BY HUGH WIDJAYA @hughwidjaya

What makes Dirk Nowitzki the greatest shooter and one of the most inspiring players ever?

At seven feet tall Dirk Werner Nowitzki should not have such a stunning array of shooting moves. Sure he might look awkward when the ball leaves his fingers and his feet the ground – like a blonde, better looking cousin of Frankenstein – but who cares when a player of centre and power forward dimensions can finesse the ball through the net? It’s because he looks so stiff and square shouldered when putting on nightly shooting clinics that I find him so mesmerising to watch, like a National Geographic documentary.

Ukrainians want democracy and freedom, not war

Lviv resident Pavlo Markovskiy and friends during military service in the Ukraine.



Ukraine’s government has reacted to aggressive Russian movements in Crimea, with the country’s acting president Oleksandr Turchinov declaring that Ukrainian soldiers have prepared an army to defend the eastern regions of the country. This has led to an agglomeration of soldiers and military equipment on the country’s border with Russia, despite the occupation of the Crimean peninsula by Russian troops in recent weeks.

International student Hayk Ovsepyan is from Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. “My country is in a danger being occupied part by part by Russia,” he said. “Their purpose is not to protect people – they just want to get more of the territory, as they did with Crimea.”

Ukrainians say they are afraid of their country being occupied, but at the same time, people support the government’s wait-and-see approach in response to Russian actions. The general sentiment is of one which is keen to avoid an aggressive military response – and not merely because of the obvious risk of war.

“In some of the eastern cities, protests are taking place – any military intervention could cause a civil war,” said a Kharkiv-based journalist, Marina Boreyko. “I am sorry that Mr Putin, instead of taking care [of] his people, is busy provoking ours.

“A very small number of people that I know want to see Ukrainian territories as a part of Russian Federacy. Those people are traitors – they are unworthy to live in this country, as we never get pressured by western Ukrainians,” she said.

The Russian Federation claims that Crimeans, southern and eastern Ukrainians are in danger and need to be ‘protected’ from western Ukrainians. Russian officials blame such westerners for ‘Nazi’ tactics, and consider protests in the Kiev’s Independence Square groundless aggression.

But many Crimeans say they did not need to be either protected or ‘rescued’. They view the conflict as less of a ‘real’ war, than one manufactured by politicians.

“Before this referendum, I thought they just try to protect their military base in Sevastopol from the possible attacks after protests in Kiev,” said native Crimean Natalya Tumanova. “I speak in Russian all my life and I’ve never been pressured or offended for that by anyone.”

Nor do the protesters in Kiev share the Russian point of view. They say the events in the ‘Maydan’ Square connected Ukrainians from different parts of the country in pursuit of democracy and freedom.

“We’ve been sick of the corrupted Government and judiciary,” said Lviv resident Pavlo Markovskiy. “Provocateurs that are shouting that Crimea and eastern Ukraine should join Russia should understand that nobody keeps them in Ukraine – they can go and live in Russia. Ukraine is an international country and we respect all nations, religions and cultures in our territory. We aim [for] democracy for everyone, and won’t let Putin provoke our people and stop us. He should understand that we are a strong spirit nation and we appreciate and value our freedom.”