A Chinese-Khmer tradition slowly fading

I've been in Cambodia for over seven years now and have never heard of this annual tradition that takes place around the full moon, signaling the end of Chinese New Year. The Chinese I know who live in Phnom Penh don't have a clue of it, and Khmers don't want to claim it as their tradition. The most prominent community still practicing it around Phnom Penh is in Takmao (the biggest celebrations). Festival activities include a wide range of spirit mediums, channeling the gamut of intentions towards their human communities. These mediums will draw blood and use it to facilitate a prediction, guide decisions and confer protections. Given I have little interest in seeing it, I have very scant knowledge of the event. So here's a Cambodia … [Read more...]

Learning Filipino etiquette

"Mano po" is a gesture showing respect towards the elderly. Growing up in the US, I've slowly lost the old customs.. being back in the Philippines brings it all back. Need to re-adopt some of them! … [Read more...]

Scene in Sihanoukville

I was browsing through Keith's photos of Sihanoukville (the above are cropped by me). I'm not much of a beachgoer, and dislike the in-your-face sexpat scene on the most touristed beaches on this coast (thanks to tightened regional visa restrictions). But if you avoid Serendipity and move farther east along Ochheuteal Beach there are less sexpats and more local crowds, so it can be a nice day trip from Phnom Penh for the family. Most of the other beaches have been / are being privatized, with fees to enter those areas. They're nice and quiet if you really want to get away from people. … [Read more...]

Khmum Ang (Bee larvae cake)

This is a bee larvae cake, a dish from the ever-popular Sovanna restaurant (No 2C St 21, just south of Sihanouk Blvd). It's steamed with spices in banana leaves, and picked at like a snack. We had a friend visiting Cambodia who wanted to sample Khmer cuisine, and what better way to do that than to get a big group together so you can toss something like this into the meal mix? ;-) It has a gummy sort of texture, and the larvae pop like a pocket when you bite down on them. It's got a nutty taste, a little sweet, with a hint of honey. No one disliked it, though it won't be something we will normally order. Photo from Keith Kelly. … [Read more...]

Cambodia Opens China-Funded Hydro-Electric Dam

I'm remembering the floods in 2009 when the cause was hush-hush (it wasn't the rains)... The dam in Kampot begins operations today. From the comment stream, on Chinese-style development: seems everything China does is bad and should be criticised by the west.lol it is same in my home country(Cameroon), however most of us Africans know this is just geopolitics and the fact that china threatens the west hegemony and power. Anyway I op the U.S will see reason and accommodate the rise of China, since there is nothing much they can do about this( as the bible says: Kingdom rise, kingdom fall) no matter what u do, u cant change this fact. the earlier the U, S understand this the better. I like and respect the U.S its one of my best … [Read more...]

Surviving a long haul flight with a 10 month old

Last month the most direct route from our house in Phnom Penh to my parents' doorstep in NYC took 29 hours. We took two flights: Phnom Penh - Hong Kong for three hours, then Hong Kong - JFK for around 16 hours. It's a long time on the road with an infant. Our baby practically lives in a suitcase, and has been on numerous flights since he was born - always as a lap child (at $1520 a seat on this flight, I think we're going to take him as a lap child as long as we can!), so he's used to flying and is generally manageable on flights. Nevertheless, I'm always anxious before the trip and packing "his" carry-on is de-stressing me. We're preparing for our trip back this weekend -- yes, after I'd finally adjusted to the time zone and the cold … [Read more...]

Delta blues – Siem Reap River spills over

It's the end of the rainy season, with a lot of storms north of us, so the rivers are bursting. Tuk tuks and motos are still going, but a lot of them are stalling out. These photos are from yesterday, when you can literally watch the water level rise because it's happening so fast. And as I type I can hear the pouring rain in the night outside. Wonder what tomorrow will bring, but luckily the health centers where we're working this week are relatively dry.   … [Read more...]

Faces – Ratanakiri, Cambodia

Photos by Keith Kelly. … [Read more...]