Watches, daggers and cricket ice cream: the delights of Asian peaks

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DAVID RISINGAssociated Press

BANGKOK — A personalized wristwatch of Cambodian leader Hun Sen at the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, a one-foot dagger at the G-20 meetings in Bali, and cricket ice cream and Thai noodles with garlic sauce to the APEC talks in Bangkok.

World leaders have a glut of loot and surprises awaiting them as they attend back-to-back summits in Asia.

Hun Sen raised his eyebrows a few weeks ago when he announced he would have special edition watches made for US President Joe Biden and other leaders attending the Association of Asian Nations summit du Sud-Est, which took place all weekend. Many have speculated that the former mid-level Khmer Rouge commander would sport his own mug on the watch in the narcissistic vein of past autocratic rulers, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

But the end product, which Hun Sen says was designed and made in Cambodia, is an elegant silver watch with copper-gold hands and a leather strap, with “ASEAN Cambodia 2022” imprinted on its face.

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Hun Sen did not say what the gift was worth when he unveiled it on his Facebook page, but said he would wear it himself to the Three Summits – giving up one of the few wristwatches in designers of his collection including more than $1 million price tags have been a source of discontent in impoverished Cambodia.

In addition to Biden, many other world leaders who will receive the Cambodian watch, including Australian Anthony Albanese, Canadian Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, will travel from Phnom Penh next to the Indonesian island of Bali, where there are trinket traditions in store for them at the top of the Group of 20.

G-20 organizers say this year leaders, who are also expected to include China’s Xi Jinping, will be asked to wear colorful shirts made of traditional Balinese endek cloth, similar to those Indonesia has handed out at G-20 meetings. 2013 APEC they hosted in which the country revived the tradition of recurring group photo summits in what some have dubbed “silly shirts”.

The tradition was started in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton, who handed out souvenir leather jackets to leaders in attendance to lighten the mood for serious economic talks.

In Indonesia, the 120 member and non-member state representatives present will also receive shawls made from another Balinese fabric known as gringsing, usually red, off-white and black woven in a geometric pattern.

Chefs will also receive a traditional kris dagger, a distinctive asymmetrical knife usually between 11 and 14 inches long with a wavy blade. According to the organizers, each dagger takes between one and six months to make, and although used as a combat weapon in the past, today it is usually worn in special ceremonies.

There were no “silly shirts” last year at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, which were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the New Zealand host instead providing merino wool scarves for men and capes for women.

It looks like Thailand is not planning to revive the shirts this year at the upcoming APEC summit in Bangkok. Instead, organizers say they will give leaders silk ties and shawls, as well as handkerchiefs and face masks.

There is culinary excitement, however, as the country, renowned for its cuisine, brings in selected Thai food startups in a competition to showcase sustainability under a concept dubbed “plate to planet”. .

Biden is not expected to be in attendance for APEC meetings, but Vice President Kamala Harris, Xi and others will get a chance to try dishes like carb-free ramen noodles made from egg white protein. egg, milk-free ice cream with kale and passion fruit, low-sodium Thai noodles with sandworm-based sauce and cricket protein-based ice cream, the spokesperson for the Anucha Buraphachaisri government.

Celebrity chef Chumpol Chaengprai prepares the gala dinner to crown the event, under the concept of “sustainable Thai gastronomy”. Its menu has yet to be announced.

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