Phnom Penh ranks in bottom 10th for livability

Phnom Penh ranked 125 out of 132 cities recently surveyed by The Economist for livability. Criteria include recreational and cultural activity, crime rate, risk of political instability. Just a few changes in the environment can make a big dent in that score, especially with growing interest on attracting foreign investments. People can be especially enthusiastic advocates of change when money is in the horizon. Let's start with joining the 21st century by improving the communications infrastructure ...Read it here: Where the Grass is Greener … [Read more...]


...continuing the catalogue of follies... We have this month in the office two interns, one from Hungary who has never been to a developing country (...?) and the other is from Germany. Our deputy director took them out to lunch at one of his favorite spots, a curry noodle shop. The steaming bowls came out and everyone dug in. The girls ate in silence. Before long one of them turned to the other with a small whisper, "Are you eating the ants too?" ----------------- One of the problems in this field is the cut-and-paste methods of some foreign inputs. Of course, if a template exists for say, a patient consent form for surgery, then it is within reason to do this. Documents are translated to Khmer, then inadvertently the original is … [Read more...]

Myanmar: Stupas, Temples Everywhere

The farthest politically-incorrect limb does insufficient justice to painful Khmer cultural events {{{shoot me now}}. The weeklong annual rowing olympics in Phnom Penh-- replete with the requisite influx of a squillion country folk-- triggered a panic resolve for escape. So to Myanmar I followed fellow expat Andreas, where brilliant bursts of flora across the mountainous terrain do the departed monsoon rains proud. Within driving span of a quick nap (by us, not the driver’s) one passes from rainforests and evergreen highlands to dry tropical plains. This picturesque diversity perks a spirit stunted by the unyielding uniformity of an arid Cambodian landscape.It was very cool on Inle Lake with its idyllic floating villages and farms, … [Read more...]

4 Tips on appliance use in Cambodia

Psar Thmei. Hair dryer. It came home with me cuz my hair is in the growing pains stage and needs assistance.Forty seconds into my first use of this death contraption I smell rubber. Mind you, these events occurred in a split nanosecond just a tad ahead of reflexes, lest y'all fancy some darwinian goal of mine to improve the human genome.Air came out of all the holes of the main unit. The cord overheated, burned my arm, and melted plastic dropped on my bare foot. A small plastic clip at the intake in the back of the unit popped loose and pieces of broken filter screen were sucked into the motor. After a small explosion at the outlet where the appliance was plugged into, sparks flew and the heating element burst into flames.Oh and my hair … [Read more...]

Fish tales and banana jams– Koh Kong or BUST!!!

The blistery summer sun finally yawned and shifted attention elsewhere, allowing a lively tropical storm to play in the Cardamom Mountains. Screeching winds and driving torrents of rain obliged the topographical audience of trees and flora to bend and sway in spirited waves. Onstage in the heavens thunder raged while spectacular light shows illuminated our path. Range Rover engineers were done proud on those unpaved jungle passes. Such backdrop commands resonance with the soul, a harmony of earth and spirit, a communion of----what the--?As we awaited transport to cross the river, a curious contraption, defying the tedium of logic, bobbed into view. It asked to be stared at rudely. The apparatus comprised planks of wood wrongly secured atop … [Read more...]

Images of Cambodia

Culinary delights for the uncompromising palate.Welcome to Cambodia (overland crossing at Poipet border).All manner of vendors and sellers descend upon stopped vehicles.View from the back of a tuk-tuk of some lakeside dwellings in Siem Reap.Angkor Wat, in the Angkor Archaeological ZoneBayon, in the Angkor Archaeological ZoneTa Phrom, in the Angkor Archaeological ZoneTa Phrom. These massive root systems have been removed from the other Angkor sites, but the French left them during their administration of this particular site.With frequent and strong rains during the monsoon seasons, houses are typically raised off the ground.Roadside gas station in the provincesGas station in Phnom Penh around the corner from my first apartmentThe local … [Read more...]

Cambodia: How to do the Poipet Border Crossing

Border crossing from Arranyaprathet, Thailand, into Poipet, Cambodia, is more stressful than the other way around. The casinos are right on the border, with sellers and market stalls outside. $40 rooms are had here if the onwards journey is postponed and a night's stay is necessary. Otherwise, the main street just straight out from the border is lined with guesthouses of various price ranges. My $3 room was clean with a solid lock on a rickety door. The bus station was off this main road to the left, if walking away from the border, for my early morning bus ride. If you purchased a trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) or Bangkok-Phnom Penh, there is the possibility of a scam in Poipet. This can go along the lines of the bus breaking … [Read more...]

Thailand: Scene in Bangkok

People believe that spirits share the space that humans inhabit. When a house is built, a similar-looking smaller house is built and placed at a prominent location on the property, to house the spirits that were displaced by the humans moving in. This is done to pacify them or else bad luck will befall the new tenants. Many accidents plagued the building of the Erawan complex in this photo. These events stopped when this spirit house was built and dedicated. Khao San Road, the backpacking mecca of Bangkok. Jasmine vendor. The smell of jasmine is just heaven! Fish vendor. The smell in the meat market is NOT heaven! The absolute BESTEST iced tea in the world is at this particular street vendor in Bangkok! Drinks are put … [Read more...]