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Meet the Team: 20 Questions with Amanda Kaufmann

Features & Interviews

Meet the Team: 20 Questions with Amanda Kaufmann

Meet the Team: 20 Questions with Amanda Kaufmann

Introducing…. Amanda, What’s On Phnom Penh’s much-loved (and very stylish) editor.

1. Where did you grow up?

New York City metropolitan area

2. What attracted you to Phnom Penh?

I’d travelled as a backpacker and was very taken by Battambang. So when I saw a job posting for a position in Phnom Penh, I jumped on it.

3. What does your typical day involve?

Work (so, writing, reading and editing what someone else has written, meeting and interviewing people), followed by some activity in the evenings, usually. Drinks, dinner, a talk, an open mic, or sometimes I give myself the night off and chill at home.

4. If you had a theme song, what would it be?

Oh gosh, it’s so cheesy but can I say “American Girl” by Tom Petty? It did always make me want to get on the open road (one of my favourite things) and I am, in fact, an American female. “She couldn’t help thinking that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world, with lots of places to run to.” I mean, cheesy or not, what can I say? It fits.

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5. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

I don’t know if you’d call them weird, but I was once a cutter at a garment factory (cutting out pattern pieces in fabric), and I worked at an old-timey chocolate shop cutting fudge and selling truffles. 

6. Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Tomorrow’s another day,” “Education comes high,” “When you’re down, the only way to go is up,” or “The key to success in life is to keep calm and cool on top and paddle like hell underneath.” (It’s a duck metaphor.) “Always order the lamb.” There’s a lot of good advice out there. 

7. What’s your go-to comfort food?


8. Favourite spot in the city?

I’m not telling. It’s mine! Muah haha.

9. Which Cambodian band/artist do you listen to the most?

I’m drawn to the cool old school: Ros Sereysothea and Pan Ron. And those good tunes by Yol Aularong and also some of that smooth Sin Sisamuth.

“I am, in fact, an American female”

10. What’s the last film you saw that you really rated?

I actually really liked the new Tarantino film, but I’m also a history nerd, so I knew what they were talking about. Oh! And I just rewatched Gaslight – that’s a good movie.

11. What’s on your bookshelf?

I have a bookshelf entirely filled with classics of all kinds (high brow, low brow, different eras and genres) that I’ve never read before. I accumulate books easily, so I like to read them and give them away. I’m currently on Les jeux sont faits by Sartre. 

12. Which item of clothing in your wardrobe do you love the most?

I have a vintage dress or two that I love to bits, literally. I wear them often and then sew up the holes as they tear. I’ve recently bought blue and white striped Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls (or “dungarees”) at a thrift store that I was so happy to find that I was actually hugging them to my chest. Haha. So, yeah, those will probably become well-loved.

Amanda 2

13. Who are your heroes?

Each member of my family, each for his or her own reasons. And then there’s a lot of people. Off the top of my head, Julia Child and Elmore Leonard, also for specific reasons. I actually enjoy reading the obits because people are so amazing – what they can do, what they accomplish. Even if you’ve never heard of them before – seeming “nobodies” can have so much impact. 

14. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Aww geez. I mean, eating cheese. And, like, watching Murder, She Wrote. Not necessarily together…though I wouldn’t rule it out. 

15. What would you want written on your gravestone?

“She gave it a go!” and, frankly, “She will be missed.”

“I actually enjoy reading the obits because people are so amazing – what they can do, what they accomplish”

16. What would your perfect weekend in Phnom Penh involve?

Doing something that I don’t normally do or have never done before. And good company, good food, dancing my butt off, swimming, sunshine, smiles. 

17. If you had to change one thing about Phnom Penh, what would it be?

Absolutely needs more greenery and places to safely walk, especially under the shade of trees. So basically sidewalks (or if you prefer, pavement) with trees and public parks. Having access to nature is so important, even if it’s in an urban area.

“I’m drawn to the cool old school: Ros Sereysothea and Pan Ron.”

18. What quote do you live by?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and (similar, but different) “Do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone.”

19. What’s one thing everyone should do in Cambodia at least once?

Drive a moto in the countryside/provinces.

20. What’s on your bucket list?

Oh my God, are you kidding?? So much! Particularly if you take into account places I want to see. For big stuff, to have a family. For the little stuff, stupid things like to drive on the Autobahn…I mean, in the part without a speed limit. Or successfully rolling an ‘R’. I don’t know where flying a plane fits in – probably more in the pipedream area!

Awww, isn’t she lovely? Check out some of Amanda’s recent articles here.


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