Monthly Archives: June 2014

Three Types of Hedonism

Three Types of Hedonism: Psychological, Evaluative, Rationalizing

Hedonism is a broad category of philosophical though that encompasses any system that places “pleasure” as being the intrinsic good, or the only thing that is considered good by itself independent of all other things.

Hedonism is the philosophical principle that places pleasure and gratification as the intrinsic good. In other words, pleasure and gratification are the only things that can be deemed good by themselves independent of all other things.

There are three distinct types of hedonism differentiated by proponents of the doctrine that enjoyment is the good:

  1. Psychological Hedonism: Pleasure is the solitary possible purpose of desire or pursuit. This may be held on observational bases, or be thought to be dictated by the significance of ‘desire.’
  2. Evaluative Hedonism: Pleasure is what we are supposed to desire and pursue.
  3. Rationalizing Hedonism: Pleasure is the only object that makes a pursuit sensible.

References

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Posted in Faith and Religion Mental Models and Psychology

The New Game and New Rules that All New Leaders are Required to Play

Leadership: New Game and New rules

Business today is a new game with new rules. Running a fixed operation efficiently will no longer keep you in business. Efficiency is merely the price of admission: Speed, intelligence, and the ability to implement change define the winners.

In this highly competitive game, leaders must keep finding ways to lower costs, deepen customer delight and loyalty, provide innovative solutions to new client needs, tap new markets, and create markets where there was none. Everyone’s work must revolve around conceiving and implementing major changes, one after another.

Implementing change is called project management, and it requires a unique leader, with a new focus.

Eight Areas of Leadership Focus

Eight Areas of Leadership Focus

Today’s leaders need to devote their attention to eight critical areas:

  1. Strategy. Leaders must clearly understand the products, services, and outputs that will—and will not—be offered to customers and markets, now and in the future. Ask yourself: What core competencies must we possess in order to win? What capabilities must we acquire? Which of our existing competencies need to be improved? How will we determine our priorities, and how will we measure success? In addition, which projects should we undertake to turn our vision into reality? Leaders who cannot answer these questions are destined, at best, to carry out the wrong projects well. At worst, they will be paralyzed by debates over priorities, resources, and projects.
  2. Portfolio and pipeline. To the degree that projects are being worked on underground or out of the sight of leadership, a portion of the business—and its results—is outside leaders’ control. Leaders must evaluate all projects in terms of how they will contribute to the implementation of strategy, and how much value they will create. The leader must ask and answer: If we do these projects, in this order, will we achieve the strategy and the margins, the market share or market size we need?
  3. Methodology. The leader, using a sound decision-making process and the input of internal and external project experts, needs to choose a standard methodology for defining, planning, and controlling project work. This will ensure that all project teams are on the same page: using a common approach and speaking a common language. Having a common process for managing projects makes it easier to get projects up to speed quickly and for project team members to move from project to project.
  4. Resources. Settling disputes over resources is a bane for any leader. There is never an all-around satisfactory solution, and someone always ends up disappointed. Leaders must allocate resources so that all the projects in the portfolio have an equal chance of success. They must ensure that projects are not initiated, only to run out of resources or cash. To do so, they must know the true state of their resources: where there are shortages, and where there are reserves of money, equipment, and people. Careful planning will prevent disputes.
  5. Quality. The people running modern manufacturing plants know if products are off quality in seconds, not months; they can spot a small defect before it creates an expensive problem. The key to monitoring project quality is careful development and evaluation of the project plan before implementation, combined with short-interval monitoring of leading indicators.
  6. Issue resolution. Two ways to bog down a project are to let issues go unresolved and to kick every issue up to leadership for resolution. Leaders need to set ground rules for which issues can be escalated and which the project team must resolve. In addition, to ensure that issues are addressed in visible, rational, and data-driven manner, leaders must provide project team members with basic situation-appraisal, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
  7. Communication. Today’s organization is communication rich. A project team may be spread across several locations, continents, or time zones. Its members may come from various vendor and customer organizations and include contractors and consultants. They may never meet each other, and this project will not be the only thing they work on. Voicemail, e-mail, teleconferencing, instant messaging, Blackberries, and cell phones can be more distracting than helpful. In the end, communication has one role in a project: to direct and reinforce work being done. A common language for and approach to projects is a fantastic start, but the leader must model and coach their use to create clear communication that works.
  8. Performance environment. The challenge is to provide a performance environment in which all those involved in projects are given an equal chance to—succeed and are rewarded, while meeting their personal needs and expectations. That means paying careful attention to all the elements of the performance system: setting clear responsibilities and goals; giving people the needed resources and skills; providing consistent, effective consequences for behaviors; and supplying timely, useful feedback on performance throughout the project.

Leaders must be “out there” with customers, competitors, and employees, looking for ways to bring about positive change and guiding people toward new paths. If people do not know where to go next, they will likely go nowhere.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Education and Career Global Business Management and Leadership

Seven Steps to Sustaining Leadership Success

Sustaining Leadership Success

The job of a leader is one of the most important positions in a society, and a better understanding of the leadership job is fundamental to a better functioning society. Leadership is a great effort. The inquiry of how to lead productively and conscientiously is significantly important in our uncertain, high-pressure, complex world. Becoming an effective leader is a painful, difficult voyage. Its trial and error, incessant effort, and gradually acquired personal insight.

  1. You take care of the people.
  2. The people take care of the service.
  3. The service takes care of the customer.
  4. The customer takes care of the profit.
  5. The profit takes care of the re-investment.
  6. The re-investment takes care of the re-invention.
  7. The re-invention takes care of the future.
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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

Nelson Mandela: A Brief Timeline

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is celebrated around the world for his personal struggle against apartheid, a system devised by the National Party controlled by the minority white in South Africa to oppress the black majority. He led the decades-long struggle to replace the apartheid regime with a multi-racial democracy and advocated for reconciliation in spite of being imprisoned for 27 years.

After becoming South Africa’s first black president in 1994, Mandela was the driving force behind the peaceful transition of one of the most racist societies in modern times to a nonviolent and democratic society where acceptance reigns and there were no recriminations. He was one of the world’s most respected political leaders of his time.

  • 1918: Nelson Mandela was born into the Madiba tribal clan, a part of the Thembu people, in a small village in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
  • 1943: Mandela joined the African National Congress.
  • 1956: Nelson Mandela was charged with high treason along with 155 people, including the entire executive of the African National Congress. Their trial started in 1958 and after three years, the courts ruled that there had been no proof that the African National Congress was using violence to overthrow the government. None of the 156 charged with high treason were found guilty.
  • 1962: Mandela was arrested near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal and convicted of incitement and for leaving country without a passport. Mandela is sentenced to five years in prison. Sent to the Robben Island in the middle of 1963.
  • 1964: In the infamous Rivonia Trials, Mandela was charged with sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. In October 1963, ten principal opponents of the apartheid system went on trial for their lives on charges of sabotage. Nelson Mandela made a speech attacking the very court he was appearing in as unlawful and illegitimate. He argued that the laws in racist South Africa were harshly draconian and that disobedience of these laws was defensible.
  • 'Long Walk to Freedom' by Nelson Mandela (ISBN 0030565812) 1990: Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. South Africa began to put an end to strict racial segregation, a process that was completed by the first multi-racial elections in 1994.
  • 1993: Nelson Mandela won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last white President of South Africa, “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”
  • 1994: The first multi-racial elections were held in South Africa. Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after more than three centuries of white rule. In his inaugural speech, Mandela declared, “Never, never again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another.”
  • 1999: Nelson Mandela stepped down as leader of South Africa. A June-1999 New York Times editorial wrote, “The five years … have seen a genuine change of political power, widespread respect for the rule of law and none of the political revenge killings that have marked other societies in transition. South Africa has many problems, such as desperate poverty and terrifying crime. But its suffering would have been infinitely greater absent the moral authority and democratic, inclusive spirit that made Mr. Mandela a giant as leader of the liberation movement and as President.”
  • 2001: Nelson Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer and received radio therapy for seven weeks. Since retirement, Mandela had maintained an active schedule, frequently traveling abroad and mediating peace efforts in Burundi.
  • 2004: Retired from public life. Mandela had rarely been seen in public since retirement.
  • 2010: Last public appearance in Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
  • 2013: Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 at home in Johannesburg after years of declining health.

Recommended Reading

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators

Experience is Cumulative: Each Day Counts

Experience is Cumulative

“How long did it take you to paint this picture?” an art aficionado asked the painter. The painter hesitated, and contemplating his next birthday, reacted, “Thirty-six years.”

The painter was right. The time of painting that picture could not be counted by the days he spent in stroking brush and paint to canvas. The painter’s every experience was part of it. His appreciation of splendor, his delicacy of discernment, his ability to subjugate every disruption to the benefit of productive devotion, was developed in him by all the years of his life. Every past canvas he had done had helped educate his hand for his present-day work.

We live at any one moment with our total past. We hate with all our past hatreds. We love with all our past loves. Every sunset we have ever seen has shaped our sense of the beautiful. Every bar of music we have listened to is encompassed in our response to a tune, which now rings in our ears.

John Dewey, celebrated American philosopher and proponent of the philosophical tradition of pragmatism, argued that past experiences influence future experiences. Dewey asserted that all experiences impact on one’s future, for better or worse. Fundamentally, cumulative experience either shuts one down or opens up one’s access to possible future experiences.

Experience refers to the nature of the events we have undergone. Experience is what is happening to us all the time—as we long we exist. This is why it is so important that we be cautious in what we make of each day. It will stay with us always.

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Posted in Education and Career Philosophy and Wisdom

Advice to Entrepreneurs: Charles Schwab’s Charles Schwab on Gut and Passion

Successful entrepreneurs focus on what they will do, not what they won’t do. They tend to have a crystal-clear belief of exactly what success will look like. Then, they seize the moment to act on their goals. Here is advice from Charles Schwab on gut and passion. Charles Schwab is the founder of Charles Schwab, the brokerage service.

  • Charles Schwab, founder of Charles Schwab On the importance of customers and keeping costs low: the most important part is that your clients have a sense that they are a valuable. Because of the end of every day, having a clientele that speaks well of you, that’s the largest source of business.
  • On advice he would give a young entrepreneur: you got to start with your gut, with something you are really passionate about, for good reason. You won’t get there by sitting in a closet and thinking, “Boy, I know the world must want this.” You have two get some real-world experience that tells you what people want. Luck helps every successful entrepreneur. But it doesn’t come without a lot of preparation and hard work.

'World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It' by John A. Byrne (ISBN 1591844509) Source: “World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It” by John A. Byrne. John A. Byrne is the former executive editor of BusinessWeek, former editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and former associate editor at Forbes, and co-author with Jack Welch of Jack: Straight from the Gut In “World Changers,” John Byrne interviews successful entrepreneurs like FedEx’s Fred Smith, Infosys’s Narayana Murthy, and Starbucks’s Howard Schultz and provides valuable insight into what makes entrepreneurs tick. John Byrne argues that the greatest common denominators amongst great world changers are the centrality of purpose in their organizations, their willingness to seek advice through mentorship and peer counseling, and the ability to maintain focus and direction over long periods.

Recommended Reading

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Inspire Greater Creativity by Building a Foolproof Machine

Inspire Greater Creativity

It’s all about creative work. You can never remind the troops too often to stick to their creative guns. The anti-creative forces are powerful, pernicious, and numerous. They come in tricky shapes and sizes, but they all want you to compromise, to split the difference between your beliefs and someone else’s, and settle for a less-than-perfect solution.

Creative integrity is under perpetual attack in every organization; and people need to hear that it’s all right to stick to your principles and your insights in the face of overwhelming opposition. People need periodic pep talks.

Here are my 18 guidelines for inspiring creativity.

How to Inspire Creativity

  1. Cause insights to happen rather than create them. Face it, accept it, and start relying on other people’s creativity—and your business will take off. If you can take as much pride of authorship in a colleague’s good work as you do in your own, then your business will grow. The remaining 17 guidelines tell you how to make it happen.
  2. Hire people smarter than you. It starts with the people you hire. As Jack Welch says about playing sandlot baseball, “You pick the best players and you win.” Many managers still don’t do it. Perhaps they don’t recognize talent when they see it (in which case they shouldn’t be managing anything!) Perhaps they can’t afford the best. But many people feel threatened by gifted, strong-minded people.
  3. Always gauge a person’s passion for an idea. And give it a little more weight than it deserves. A passionate advocate for an insight will trump a dispassionate one. And you want that person on your side in the heat of the battle. Even if you’re wrong, misguided, over the top, and out of control, you can’t discount passion.
  4. Judge an insight on its merits, not on how you would have done it. This can be tough to do when you have a strong philosophy or approach that has been validated by success. Shouldn’t everyone follow your lead? Not necessarily. If you force-feed every insight and execution through your prism, you bring otherwise smart people down to your level. If you insist that people only do it as you would do, you create lesser versions of you. This is the creative equivalent of hiring weaker than you are.
  5. Don’t be surprised by surprises. In every creative endeavor, it makes perfect sense to be open to accidents, messes, failures, and other disasters—and treat them as potential strokes of good luck. Surprises, whether caused by massive natural forces or the tiniest mishap, have a way of surpassing our imaginations and inspiring magic. The beauty of surprises is how far they exceed our imagination. Designating someone as your Chief Serendipity Officer will enable you catch strokes of luck that others miss.
  6. Don’t compete with your people. When you’re the boss, you can afford to ease up, cede a point or an execution of an idea. Have people praising your open-mindedness and feeling that much more free to think boldly (because they know you won’t always be stomping on their suggestions). You must be strong enough to let others win their share. The payoff shows up in the more adventurous work people start bringing into your office for your approval.
  7. Respond with your gut first, your head second. Not only because this is how consumers do it, but because it’s the most trustworthy meter for an insight’s power. If you laugh, it’s funny. If you cry, it’s moving. If you feel a jolt, it’s breaking through the clutter. When you don’t feel it in your gut, chances are the notion won’t fly Then your head can take over. Critique the work, send it back, and tell your team to do better.
  8. Add value to an almost-there idea. Why bother adding something to a bad idea? A bad idea should never see the light of day. Save your brainpower for the good insights that are just a hair short of perfect. If you can add 10 or 20 percent of value to a concept or execution, then you earn your keep and, in turn, raise the performance bar. When you push to make something a little better, it ends up making it a lot better.
  9. Be tough on the work. John Bergin would get abusive when people presented him with unacceptable work. He would tear up the work in front of them and throw them out of his office. The power to stop bad work is the only true power a creative director possesses. You can’t predict when the great work appears or if the client will appreciate its greatness or how the public will respond, but you can stop bad material from getting out. Your “No’s” more decisive in setting your standards than your “Yes’s.”
  10. Be Direct. Don’t let people leave your office “wondering” if they’re on the right path. If you’re looking at work that you would never let out the door, don’t mix your concerns with words of encouragement—people will only hear your encouraging remarks. Don’t let anyone leave your office not knowing your true opinion.
  11. Always have a reason for your opinion. This lets you attack the work rather than the person who created it. While I would never say, “You’re an idiot for showing me this!” my reasons were fairly predictable: the work wasn’t memorable. Always make sure people know whether you love or hate the work.
  12. Once you say yes to a concept, don’t backpedal on it. You will only confuse people if you hedge on your judgment, question your standards, and cave in at the first instance that a client doesn’t share your enthusiasm for the work. Your people look to you to display as much spine in supporting the team’s concept as you exerted in bullying and browbeating the team to produce it. Anything less is phony.
  13. Be the boss everyone wants to work for. People most often want to work for tough leaders. The best of them respond brilliantly to demanding bosses. They need the tough love because they rarely volunteer to administer it upon themselves.
  14. Make your office the quake zone. No matter how pleasant and easygoing your personality, your office should not be an oasis of comfort and ease. Employees should feel a twinge of discomfort and fear, akin to stage fright, before they walk in. They more they quake, the less they’ll waste your time with work that’s less than their best. Develop a steely toughness, and your people will respond accordingly.
  15. Never let them hear you complain. When people hear you complain, they take it as permission to complain too. Whatever misgivings you have about a client or a superior, keep them to yourselves. They deflate morale, make you look weak, and create an environment that breeds negativity like a contagion.
  16. Know your people and play to their strengths. The best companies indulge, pamper, and celebrate talented misfits, eccentrics, and people who are “beyond category.” They pay them well, envelop them in a serene environment, and don’t ask them to conform to dress codes or regular office hours.
  17. Play to their weaknesses, too. If you know your people, you’ll also figure out how to convert their weaknesses into strengths.
  18. Get a life outside the office. Or you’ll never bring the real world into your work. So many of the insights, words, and emotions that find their way onto the page or screen have nothing to do with customer research or the client’s brief or the account strategy. They’re ideas that come from your personal shelf of experience.

The richer your life beyond the business, the richer the work within. So, get a life. Before you can move the needle for others, move your own.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

“La Justice” by French Painter Bernard d’Agesci

La justice by Bernard d'Agesci, Musee Bernard d'Agesci (Museum Niort)

“La justice” is a painting by Musee Bernard d’Agesci (Museum Niort) by 18th Century French painter Bernard d’Agesci.

Bernard d’Agesci’s “La justice” depicts a female that holds scales in one hand and a book in another. One page of the book reads “Dieu, la Loi, et le Roi” (“God, the law, and the king” in Latin) and the other page contains the Golden Rule.

Originally Jean-Charles-Henri-Auguste Bernard, Bernard d’Agesci painted religious and mythological subjects and portraits in Neoclassical style. Bernard d’Agesci commemorated in the Musee Bernard d’Agesci in Niort in Western France, the town of his birth.

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Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

Investment Process: Arrogance Will Always Get the Best of You in Finance

Investment Process: Arrogance Will Always Get the Best of You in Finance

It is necessary for the investors to think logically while investing and researching a stock. Investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game. Overcoming dysfunctional psychological heuristics is a trained response. That trained response requires work and discipline—if you want to avoid that, buy an index fund. In a speech before the Foundation Financial Officers Group in Santa Monica, California, 14-Oct-1998, Warren Buffett’s partner Charlie Munger said:

Human nature being what it is, most people assume away worries like those I raise. After all, five centuries before Christ, Demosthenes noted that: “What a man wishes, he will believe”. And in self-appraisals of prospects and talents it is the norm, as Demosthenes predicted, for people to be ridiculously over-optimistic. For instance, a careful survey in Sweden showed that 90% of automobile drivers considered themselves above average. And people who are successfully selling something, as investment counselors do, make Swedish drivers sound like depressives. Virtually every investment expert’s public assessment is that he is above average, no matter what is the evidence to the contrary.

Smart, hard-working people aren’t exempted from professional disasters from overconfidence. Often, they just go aground in the more difficult voyages they choose, relying on their self-appraisals that they have superior talents and methods.

It is, of course, irritating that extra care in thinking is not all good but also introduces extra error. But most good things have undesired “side effects,” and thinking is no exception. The best defense is that of the best physicists, who systematically criticize themselves to an extreme degree, using a mindset described by Nobel laureate Richard Feynman as follows: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you’re the easiest person to fool.

Warren Buffett’s success as an investor demanded not only deep analysis of financial documents but also a large measure of self-discipline and willpower to avoid getting caught in market bubbles and panics. Buffett’s decree “buy when everyone else is selling, sell when everyone else is buying” requires enormous self-confidence to implement. Investors don’t need to concern themselves with market psychology, price charts, or anything else not related to the intrinsic value of the company they’d like to invest in. In an interview with CNBC’s Becky Quick on 04-Mar-2013, Warren Buffett said,

But [a lot of Main Street investors] should hold a diversified group of really high-class companies, which you can do by buying an index fund. And then they should forget it. They should just pretend the stock market closes for five years and they shouldn’t look at prices every day…

Recommended Reading on Warren Buffett & Value Investing

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Posted in Investing and Finance

CAMBODIA: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

Cambodian Buddhist Monks at Bayon Temple

Replete with history and lore, it is tragic, violent past having left it with on uphill struggle towards stability Cambodia is a beautiful study in charisma and strength. The country has grown rapidly over the last few years, showing residents’ eagerness to re-build their homeland and be at one with the world. Cambodia is shaped like a heart, and you can feel the beat everywhere

Cambodia: At a Glance

Experience the Best Attractions of Cambodia

  1. Angkor Temple Complex in Cambodia Temple Trails: The ancient city of Angkor and its archaeological marvels are Cambodia’s biggest draw, and with good reason. Base yourself at bustling Siem Reap and prepare yourself for a whole lot of walking and gawking. You could spend days exploring grand Angkor Wat, which was built as a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, as well as other ruins like Bayon and Ta Phrom (fun fact: the Angelina Jolie-starrer Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was shot here).
  2. Cambodia Countryside Two Wheels Good: For a very different perspective and a completely new holiday experience, sign up for a bicycle tour. You can choose from set routes or customize an itinerary that includes everything you would like to see, and then just pedal away! You’ll get a chance to experience Cambodia’s countryside, interact with the locals and taste food as it is eaten at home here, and take in the iconic sights, all on two wheels. Trust us; there is no better way to do it.
  3. Choeung Ek War Memorial, Cambodia Lessons in History: Gain an insight into Cambodia’s history at the beautifully maintained Choeung Ek War Memorial. At the site of the Khmer Rouge’s notorious ‘killing fields’, this memorial tells the stories of the regime’s victims, and is a must-visit for a well-rounded understanding of this country and its tumultuous past.
  4. Tonle Sap Lake the largest freshwater lake in South-East Asia Float Away: Discover the life of a different kind of nomad, and visit some of the unique floating villages that can be found on Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in South-East Asia. Just a half-hour’s drive out of Siem Reap will have you at the jetty where boats wait to spirit you off to see the Chong Khneas floating village, with its medley of homes, shops and fisheries.
  5. Koh Tonse Island, Kampot, Cambodia Dive Under: Head to the south of the country and relax on gorgeous, secluded Koh Tonse Island, just off the coast at Kampot. Surrounded by the azure waters of the Andaman Sea, this is a perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling or just perfecting that tan as you stuff yourself silly on the fresh seafood available at the shacks on the beach.
  6. Khmer and French Colonial Architecture, Kratie, Mekong River Make Some Friends: Head to the sleepy town of Kratie, nestled on the banks of the mighty Mekong River, for a chance to spot the Irrawaddy dolphins that are occasionally seen here. These rare freshwater dolphins are worth making the excursion for, and the untouched pockets of Khmer and French colonial architecture that survive here only sweeten the deal!
  7. French colonial architectural heritage at Battambang Go Back in Time: Step back into another era and explore the best of Cambodia’s French colonial architectural heritage at Battambang. A town that can be visited for a day or over a longer stretch for a more leisurely experience, here, you will find classic examples of life at that time in the grand old houses.
  8. Waterfalls in Mondulkiri province, Cambodia Get Drenched: Make the most of the Cambodian outdoors and visit the Mondulkiri province. This verdant region is perfect for intrepid travelers, with thundering waterfalls like Boo Sea and Sen Monorum to cool down at, and hill tribes to interact with.
  9. Slok Ngor Cambodian Dish Running Amok: Fish amok is one of Cambodia’s best-known dishes, though variations are available in neighboring countries. Cambodians use an herb known as slok ngor, which has a bitter taste that sets the dish apart. Fish amok comes as a mousse made with coconut milk and a ljliuv Khmer curry paste made with shallots, lemongrass, galangal and turmeric.
  10. Friends Restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Make a Difference: Giving back does not have to be hard! Dig into a delicious meal at Friends Restaurant in Phnom Penh, and you will be helping the local community. This eatery dishes up great food, and is staffed by and benefits street youth.
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Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys