Dining with the Bong Thoms

Pre-dinner poolside drinks

Another week, another dizzy round of engagements. Last night I attended a very swish function held by ANZ at Raffles Hotel. Their Global CEO, Michael Smith was in town providing “unique insights” into the global financial crisis and what it means for Asia. After an agonisingly slow chauffeur driven ride down Norodom in Infinity CEO David Carter’s Lexus, we arrived at Raffles and the cars in the driveway should have been some indication as to what the night was going to be like. First thing we saw was this bad boy . We had a quick beer in the Elephant Bar and then went poolside for pre-dinner drinks. The pool looked amazing with rows of floating candles and it was a veritable who is who of Cambodian Business leaders. Anyone who was anyone was there ( including myself of course) and after a quick beverage or two we were ushered into the dining room. Some incredibly stunning apsara dancers provided a great show whilst we had our entrées and it was then on to the serious business.

Michael Smith ( Global CEO / ANZ ), Stephen Higgins ( CEO / ANZ Cambodia ), H.E Margaret Adamson ( Australian Ambassador to Cambodia )…and some random spunk in the background !

You don’t schmooze…you lose.

Apsara Dancers

Ohkna Kith Meng gave a quick introduction . There was not talk about ANZ Royal ( his Royal Group’s JG with ANZ ) but rather he simply lauded Mr Smith’s almighty power. It is all about power with the Ohkna’s ( an Ohkna is an honorary title bestowed to a Cambodian gent when he has “made the big time”) and god knows there were plenty of them in the room. Dinner was fantastic and I was rather surprised when Ohkna Meng arrived at our table ( cue ; everybody stand up and mind your manners ) and stood right next to me to chat and encourage us to scull our red wine. Whilst we drank from normal mortal glasses, the Ohkna’s and anyone on their tables all drank from these ridiculously over sized glass wine goblets in a garish “look at me ,look at me” display of …ahem….social standing.

Card playing,pistol toting,Lexus driving monkies

After dinner a few of I headed out to the Raffles street front to wait in a tuk tuk for some others and the sight of 5000 monkey suited bodyguards all toting exposed pistols shoved into their belts was amusing. Many were out on the street in groups of 6-8 playing cards for money and when I started snapping some pictures, they were none too happy. They shielded their faces and ducked for cover. Every so often a walkie talkie would squawk and one would take off and jump into a Lexus to go and pick up his master. When I headed into the main entrance in the tuk tuk to pick up the others, some of the bodyguards gave Pros ( our driver and a good mate ) some filthy ” what the fuck are you doing in here” looks and words and told him to move on. I told them in perfect Khmer to basically shut the fuck up viz ” I am waiting for my friends and I have just had dinner with your boss “. They were then all smiles.

Whilst the others headed over to Talking To a Stranger for an Obama Inauguration party, I headed home to my two girls and was soon fast asleep………..

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