Maybe it gets better

The tall building in the background is still under construction but it’s mostly finishing work, painting interiors, installing carpets and lights, etc. A couple nights ago they started turning on some outside decorative lights on parts of the building. At this point, they are of various colors, don’t seem to have a coherent pattern, and just aren’t at all attractive. But the workmen are still working on it so we can hope the finished product looks better.

We’re not covered

Today there was an interesting article in the Khmer Times about insurance. What I found significant is that less that 1% of the population is covered by any insurance–auto, medical, personal, fire, property, etc. That’s why they have large families in Cambodia. Your children and grandchildren are your insurance.


A really popular corner of our DDP compound is this volleyball court. In normal times, it gets a lot of use and the grass is worn away.
But the times are not normal now and with all our students at home in the provinces, the court is growing a new cover of grass.

June 7th?

I prepared a photo yesterday and was getting ready to post it when I got a call from the United States that caused me to return to the DDP office at night. Then when I got back home, I had to call the U.S. again and I forgot to post the photo.

And now I forgot what the photo was and what category it is in, so I can’t find it! One of these days I will get back to that category and find it and be able post it then!

What used to be…

Many of us go by familiar sites in Phnom Penh without ever knowing their history and significance.

Look at Photo 4 above. It’s a picture of the old Catholic cathedral in Phnom Penh that was torn down by the Khmer Rouge. You have been by its site a million times but probably weren’t aware of its history. In the #4 photograph, the photographer is standing on Daun Penh Avenue, facing west. His back is to Wat Phnom, on his left is the present U.S. Embassy, and on his right is the Sunway Hotel. He is taking a picture of the cathedral located on Monivong Blvd.

Photo #1 is a close-up picture of the cathedral as it looked in 1962. Photo #2 is a picture of the present Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications which was built on the site of the cathedral. In 2000, there was a large government radio tower where the cathedral had been located, but then the tower was moved and the Ministry of Posts was built in its place.

Photo #3 is what is today called the Municipality or City Hall. In 1962 it was the headquarters of the M.E.P. mission group. That is the French mission society to which Bishop Olivier belongs. M.E.P. had responsibility for the Catholic Church in all of French Indochina (Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia), and they built their headquarters right next to the cathedral. In Photo #3, the orangish building to the left of City Hall is the Ministry of Posts which replaced the cathedral.

After all the wars, the government took over the M.E.P. headquarters and kept it for themselves. Today you can ride by the City Hall building on Monivong to get a glimpse of Phnom Penh’s past and of church history in Cambodia. The former M.E.P. headquarters building (now City Hall) is on the west side of Monivong Blvd, across from the Raffles Hotel. It is easy to spot the former M.E.P. building because the fence along Monivong has crosses built into it.

Not looking so good….

Two days ago the government imposed another round of business closures. It’s not a general lockdown but all non-essential businesses are to shut their doors for two weeks. The graph above, from, shows why. We have had restrictions since 15 April–including three weeks of lockdown–but the graph seems to get worse, not better.

At long last…

Today Sau Soknym was finally able to pick up the new three-year MOU for DDP with the Ministry of Social Affairs. Those things take an incredibly long time, so long this time that the minister questioned his staff about it.

What is it?

You may go your whole life in the US and never see something like this. Palm trees you may encounter in parts of the southern US, but the big wire thing? It’s a coconut catcher. They aren’t too common even here in Cambodia, but in some places with a lot people walking around and with a lot of palm trees with a lot of coconuts, they can be literally life-saving devices. Coconuts are heavy–maybe 3 to 5 lbs–with thick, heavy husks. One falling on a person’s head from 50 feet can be fatal.