How to catch sparrows

A little bit of life in Phnom Penh.... I was sitting at a cafe overlooking Sisowath Quay (riverside), when I watched how they catch what's nicknamed in the birding world as LBJs (Little Brown Jobbies), or the ubiquitous common sparrows. Keith told me how he'd watch them do this but it seemed like such a tediously unrewarding way to catch birds so I didn't believe him.Small Khmer kids with long thin bamboo sticks patiently waited at some short bushes by the river. When a sparrow came along, they poked it with their stick. On the end of the stick is a blob of glue which, when it gets onto the bird's feathers, effectively renders them incapable of flying. As the bird hops away trying to get the glue off, the kids would poke it again with the … [Read more...]

Is that an IV drip on an Angkor bas relief?

Photos courtesy of K. Estela Ha-- no wonder there's such a problem with IV use here LOL! Without regulatory standards and mechanisms such as licensing or accreditation, quality of care is partly determined by consumer demand. People more often than not believe the more invasive or expensive a treatment, the more effective. This means treating simple fatigue with an intravenous drip instead of coconut juice ($10 vs $0.25)! IV drips are VERY popular; fishermen coming in from a long night out on the water will often seek IV treatment. Some pharmacists even color it (food coloring usually) because people associate the color with increased potency! Patients hooked up to their IV drips while riding on the back of a moto is a common sight on … [Read more...]

Khmer Proverbs

Another activity for our team retreat aimed at cross-cultural issues is to come up with the most-recalled proverbs from growing up. Though many sayings cross boundaries, the ones best remembered by each group curiously was very telling of their cultural norms and tendencies. The Germans came up with a list of sayings that depicted a society which valued order, regulation, and punctuality. The Filipino sayings depicted a god-fearing, eternally positive, and family-oriented people. Growing up in the US, adages and mottos which had most to do with taking advantage of opportunity and making money came easily to mind. Here are some Khmer proverbs, which explain very many things which those of us from the West often frustratingly misunderstand. … [Read more...]

Streetlife: A Man’s World?

Finding a dependable, safe motorbike driver (motodup) is a difficult feat, even in Phnom Penh where an excess of drivers roam the streets, ranging from the unemployed college graduate to new migrants from the provinces. Oum Chanton, a familiar face in Boeng Keng Kang, has been getting her passengers safely to their destination for seven years.It is an unusual choice of vocation for a woman, but motodup-ing suits Oum Chanton just fine. Occasionally driving a moto as a side job in the year 2000, Chanton discovered that it offered steady wages and flexibility. As a single mother who is also supporting a younger sister and mother, it gradually became the main source of income for her family. She soon found herself driving even up to the day … [Read more...]

Laos at Night

Bun Awk Phansa (Full Moon), Luang Prabang The October Full Moon marks the end of the three-month rains. People release small banana-leaf boats decorated with candles, incense and small flowers at the rivers Mekong and Nam Khan. Paper lantern boats are constructed in the monasteries and paraded in a candlelight procession to the rivers. Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang Night market, Luang Prabang Pha That Luang, Vientiane That Dam Stupa, Vientiane Mortar round candle holder, Phonsavanh, Xhieng Khouang More photos from Xhieng Khouang in Northern Laos by Keith Kelly   Other posts on Laos: Laos: A gastronomic adventure Laos: Regional Getaway . … [Read more...]

Laos: Regional Getaway

Published in AsiaLIFE Phnom Penh, January 2008 More photos from Northern Laos by K Kelly Because the world has largely ignored this small country, its way of life, and religious and traditional structures have been preserved, creating an old-world charm. With an inviting reception all around, and life carrying on unhurriedly, Laos is sure to be a memorable destination. With growing interest in the unchartered northern provinces, especially the protected and just recently accessible areas of Luang Nam Tha and Phongsali, exploring a wider range of destinations is now possible through a responsive and well-coordinated tourism sector. Sleep in a tree-house with the gibbons and zipline to breakfast. Or go on a wildlife trek to sight any … [Read more...]

Laos: A Gastronomic Adventure

Where Thais love the calorific richness of coconut milk bases and thick sauces, Lao cuisine tends to be less demanding without compromising taste. A coarse mix of freshly prepared ingredients creates the signature raw textures and crisp flavours. It combines the bitterness of roots with citrus, the sour tang of tamarind and the pungent saltiness of fermented fish or shrimp. Sample the haute royal cuisine of the north with soups like khái pâen (river moss) and áw lám (a dense vegetable mix). And don’t miss the assorted pumpkin dishes or grilled fish served with sticky rice. More typical dishes include làap (lime-cured minced meat and herbs), mak pen (spicy grilled meat patties), thot phakop (fish beignets) and pak goot (spirally green … [Read more...]

Things to See at Night in Phnom Penh

Back home the great outdoors is cast in a peaceful sheen after a good snow. Here in Phnom Penh the night-time glow of a few streetlights or the occasional passing vehicle blurs the rough edges. From K Kelly’s portfolio: Views of Sisowath Quay and the Tonle Sap River from the top of FCC, a bar-restaurant on the river. River-side seats at the top floor of this colonial-style establishment is a good place for happy hour. To the left of the 2nd photo, downriver, is the confluence of the Tonle with the Mekong. This beautiful old building on Sothearos is currently undergoing restoration efforts to become a hotel-restaurant with direct access to the FCC. Cyclos, perhaps around 300 left in Phnom Penh, round up for the night across … [Read more...]