Alleyway kitchens

Extensive mazes of alleys cut through the heart of large city blocks. Outside the doors are these clay planter-type contraptions which are used for cooking. You can place a grill on top or set a pot or wok on it. They'll make extensive meals with one or two of these. We have one too but it's been sitting unused with a small healthy weed in it which needs no apparent nutrients from soil or water, because I coudn't find an eco-friendly alternative to deforesting Cambodia (they cut the hardwoods down to make charcoal). But I recently found a great NGO, Ceres, which makes char-briquettes from biomass waste. They develop alternative fuels and stove technologies. Three kilograms of these briquettes cost 9000 Riels ($2.25). Family members … [Read more...]

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...]