VICE PRESIDENT, CAMBODIAN AMERICAN RESOURCE AGENCY
Personal: wife, Keat Lee; son, Ricky, 21
Engineering consultant Uch has a lot of titles. Besides being the veep for the Cambodian American Resource Agency, he also serves as vice president of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple and president of the Cambodian School. A celebration of the Cambodian New Year takes place Saturday (9 a.m.–midnight, Scottish Rite Center, 2455 Masonic Drive, San Jose. Admission: $15). Uch explains how to party, Khmer style, in the South Bay.
One-stop shop for Cambodian immersion
CARA (www.caraweb.org) is a volunteer-based organization founded in 1998. The older people go to temple; the organization targets the young generation. We have a Cambodian school, cultural dance, youth programs, Cambodian literature, support groups. It’s all free and open to everyone.
Favorite joint for Southeast-Asian home cooking
We have only one, Chez Sovan (425 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell; 923 N. 13th St., San Jose). They have real Cambodian food and a family-owned restaurant. Cambodian food is not so spicy compared to Thai food. Samlor kako is good, a stew with 10 different vegetables, fish and chicken. Amok, a very common Cambodian food, is steamed fish wrapped up in leaves.
How to recapture a lost art
Cambodia has many dances. We had dances for the king and dances for folk. The classical dance is very hard: the hand movement, the finger movement and the leg; you have to start young. You have to be flexible; you need a lot of practice. The folk dances — there’s the coconut dance, the harvest dance — are easy to learn, not many requirements.
Best way to restart a resolution
April 13 is the time in Cambodia when the harvest is done. People got the crop, and everyone is ready to enjoy it. The New Year is three days. The first day is a major celebration. People build small sand hills, Poon Phnom, following a Hindu story. You go to the Cambodian Buddhist temple. The second day, you show consideration: Serve the old people, give food to the monks and food to the elders and charity. The final day, Long Sak, the monks bless the sand mountain and clean the Buddha.
Favorite festival highlight
They have a new dance this year, and I love the young kids’ dance. The small kids, they start from 5 years old. Many Cambodians, they skip the classical dance and go to the social dance and live music at night, but I still love the folk dance and the classical dance.
When to go visit the motherland
Right now, it’s very hot, but April is a big celebration for the New Year. The water festival in November has boat races, and the weather’s better. At the end of September is Phchum Ben, a celebration for the dead. Everyone goes to temple. It’s the time the dead can come back and meet the loved ones; the loved ones offer food to the dead.
— Vera H-C Chan