Closing Time

Today Maryknoll Cambodia, the legal entity authorized by the Cambodia government so that Maryknoll can work in the kingdom, had a closing celebration. In December Maryknoll Cambodia as an NGO will cease to exist.

We had a Maryknoll meeting and then a closing liturgy. Here Maryknoll Lay Missioner Julie Lawler passes out papers for one of the mass songs.
Julie and Sr. Regina Pellicore planned this gathering. Here we viewed photos of our activities over the years, recalling the various ministries we’ve been part of.
Former members of Maryknoll Cambodia were also invited to offer their memories and reflections, and quite a few did so. Here Sr. Ann reads one of the reflections we received.

Water Festival 2023 – #2

The Water Festival is BIG. 2.5 million people come to Phnom Penh for the boat races stretched over three days.
This drone shot gives a good idea what the boats are like. Notice in the pink and light blue boats that more than half the crew are standing, to be more vigorous in paddling. It takes a really big boat to allow standing.

[The photos are from the Khmer Times newspaper.]

Water Festival 2023


Today (Sunday) and Monday and Tuesday are the three official holidays for the Water Festival held each year at the full moon in November when the Tonle Sap River reverses its flow. Long boats, paddled by 30 to 90 men, race for three days river in front of the royal palace.

2.5 million people from other parts of Cambodia come to Phnom Penh for the festival, the national celebration second only to the Khmer New Year. Here at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, families are walking toward the riverfront. They could take tuk-tuks only so far and then the streets are blocked and they must proceed on foot.
This father takes his three daughters to the riverfront on his motorcycle. He’s probably wondering how close he can get to the water and where he is going to park.
These tourists are part of a group of ten or twelve being carried to the scene of the action by cyclo.
This woman is setting up her cart for a long day of selling bags of popcorn and cotton candy.
This vendor finds customers for small clams to crack and eat while the boy on the left struggles to set up his offering of some sort of fried bread.
Hat sellers do a good business with everyone being out in the sun all day long.

Early Thanksgiving

Because we have a weekly Wednesday meeting for Maryknoll Cambodia and we have a cook on that day to help with the meal, we moved our Maryknoll Cambodia Thanksgiving celebration to today. In the past we would have 30-35 people attending. Today we had 13 who gathered after work. Here the group is participating in an opening Thanksgiving prayer.
There was plenty of good food that our members prepared. Here Sr. Ann and Bro. Tony take some of the chicken we prepared rather than turkey.
It was a pleasant evening with good food and old friends.

Tents for rich people

Our neighbor at the Maryknoll office is a four-star general near the top at the Ministry of Immigration. He just finished a two-month expansion and renovation of his house, and this weekend I found out that was so his daughter could get married there.

This is a view down the street from the Maryknoll office. Normally there is only a solid blank wall at the house but for the wedding this elaborate entrance way was created to their inner yard.

The tent companies are extremely resourceful and here they created an air conditioned room in the courtyard of the house. Here the workers are finishing the last preparations.

Weddings in a neighborhood are generally quite a nuisance, especially for the foreigners, but this general was quite considerate. He did not block the entire street with a tent and he did not put the usual loudspeakers out on the street to saturate the neighborhood with the chanting of the monks. [The Maryknoll office is the leftmost of the three shophouses behind the huge generator.]
The general’s family went to quite an expense for this wedding. These are portable toilets on the street for the dozens of cooks, cleaners, guards, drivers, and police assisting with the wedding. And the toilets are full size ceramic fixtures in air-conditioned stalls!

Human Rights for the Deaf 4

The training for judges and prosecutors working with people with disabilities was organized by the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (or UN Human Rights). It was held at the Angkor Paradise Hotel which seemed to have five or six UN and NGO meetings going on while still accommodating hordes of tourists come to see Angkor Wat.

The Angkor Paradise Hotel is a beautiful facility but much of its beauty comes from its (over) use of luxury woods native to Cambodia, one of its treasures.

The hotel lobby exhibited the characteristic Cambodia display of wooden furniture, figures, and objects.
The shops in the lobby were accented by massive wooden stools. Imagine the huge luxury trees sacrificed to provide these five incredibly heavy wooden decorations in the corridor.

Another section of the lobby.
Wooden chairs and a carving worth thousands of dollars decorate one of the passageways. These chairs are really unusual because they are padded! I have never seen that in 23 years here. For me one of the curses of Cambodia is sitting in a doctor’s waiting room with these huge wooden chairs, designed for a Cambodian sense of beauty and not for comfort.
The Angkor Paradise Hotel has a beautiful pool.
And of course the pool furniture is more of the heavy wooden style.

Human Rights for the Deaf 3

Every time I go to Siem Reap I stay at the Bun Kao Guest House. Maryknoll has known their family for 25+ years and they are just delightful people. There are fancier and more modern places to stay but I really like their guest house.

The Bun Kao Guest House near Wat Bo.
A small porch on each floor looks down on the street.
The guest house has not starting serving meals again after Covid so I walked around the corner to this little restaurant and laundry run by a mother with two teenage children.