around the ‘hood with a visiting friend

Here's my street, we live a block off the Royal Palace. It's everyday scenes like this that you never bother to take photos of until a friend comes along and captures everything you don't blink twice over anymore. To the left is a tuk-tuk, riding the line to his left and back is what they call here a cyclo, and practically most people travel by some form of motorbike here.Every day monks walk around the neighborhood collecting alms (this is one of the stores downstairs). Since the Khmer Rouge decimated the elder ranks, the religion's influence has not gained its previous legitimacy and credibility. Respect for monks and the solidarity they fostered before the conflict era have been largely eroded.Time for some tours around the city! This is … [Read more...]

Banana leaf books

Since deciding to leave 'civilisation' I hardly much missed the comforts I was luckily blessed with. Lord knows my parents are confuzzled why I chose to go to a country worse off than the one they took me out of! I guess that choice is a luxury they passed on to us, but that's where we see things differently... So instead there's a daily onslaught of novel situations-- sights, smells, tastes-- not all good! But more often than not it's a memory to put in that bottle.Here we saw an old man who lives at the temple on Phnom Chisour (2hrs' motorbike ride from Phnom Penh). He writes Buddhist teachings on dried banana leaves cut into uniform 'pages', which are then tied together into a 'book'. The implement is a branch with a sharpened end, and … [Read more...]

Day Trip from Phnom Penh to Phnom Oudong

This trip was a 50minute motorbike ride to the outskirts of Phnom Penh on a very hot Sunday. This is a typical panoramic view of Cambodia in the North-South region Siem Reap - Sihanoukville: flat as a pancake dry and dotted with palm and coconut trees, etc. Elevations are revered spots and wats (pagodas) are usually constructed on top of them.These images of Buddha in various interpretations are not for idolising, such as Christians worship the images of the God. These images aim to inspire the appropriate mode of behaviour towards the personal achievement of enlightenment. It is an admired philosophy, especially during these modern fast-paced times, but its lack of appreciation for personal gains contributes to the detriment of Asian … [Read more...]

Scene in Phnom Penh

My view from the treadmill at the gym. Running east towards the Mekong River (which is at the top of this photo) is Sihanouk Blvd. Independence Monument, commemorating the war dead and independence from colonial rule (France) in 1953, is at the intersection with Norodom Blvd. The parks on either side of the monument are hubs of activity.The street grid under French rule composed of wide main boulevards lined with trees. Fortunately the not-so-often wise leadership decided that this is an asset. The municipality has recently begun a spate of beautification projects around the city, making medians more inviting and family-friendly like this one. It's part of a wider effort at attracting tourism, as most visit the country for just three days-- … [Read more...]

Forced evictions and land grabbing for the Chinese New Year

From Phnom Penh Post 24Jan 2009, City, developer demolish Dey Krahorm. Overseen by the military at 2am yesterday, the remaining residents' houses at Dey Krahorm, a community in Phnom Penh's Tonle Bassac neighborhood, were bulldozed by workers hired by 7NG, a private company who won the rights to develop the site. This is the final outcome of their 3 year struggle against the company, after rejecting the cash compensation and relocation offer to a site 16km out of the city because they felt their property values were vastly underestimated. During this time, their peaceful protests as well as efforts by human rights groups and organisations were met with violence and intimidation, with no action to either address their concerns or provide … [Read more...]

Watching Obama’s Inauguration in Phnom Penh

That was a pretty nice event.. Lots of energy and a huge crowd at the Gym Sports Bar: we had about 180 people throughout the night and well past 230am-- was not a good idea to have an 8am meeting like some folks did! And here, our two most favorite things-- ZULU and BARACK-- we just found our theme for the Mardi Gras Madness event! And on a side note, a hmmm moment... Bush will be the first ex-president not to get a lifetime security detail. [[cocking head to the side]]] ..of all the living POTUSes that'd need it most...! . … [Read more...]

View outside my office window: demolition

No need for big machinery eh. Here's a team of five Khmer (in flip-flops) pounding away at the building with just a sledgehammer each. It took them about two weeks to take this building down and haul away the debris. … [Read more...]

beyond Phnom Penh.. in Kampong Cham

Photos courtesy of K KellyWe just wanted to go for a walk to get some air, after two whole days indoors through several ceremonies. We attended a Buddhist ceremony in Kampong Cham for a friend's grandmother who passed away 10 years ago. This is the province with the beautiful women, according to many Khmer men in Phnom Penh. It might somewhat be validated by the recent legislative crackdown on weddings to foreigners, to prevent trafficking of women. Apparently Korean men looking for a nice obedient wife tend to look for one to buy/marry in this province, until several miraculously escaped abusive relationships in S Korea and reported it upon return. But I digress. This couple were guests at the event, and we inadvertently followed them … [Read more...]