Since I’ve already showed you the kitchen and dining room of our Maryknoll office in Phnom Penh, I thought I might continue with the living room. I hope these posts give you a glimpse into the cultural differences and practices we experience here.
This view is from the rear of the living room, looking toward the street and the front of the house. Note again that this is a shophouse which by definition is one room wide and three or four stories tall. It’s considered a norm for housing in Cambodia in the cities and larger towns. This living room is the room we use for our Wednesday Maryknoll mission team meetings. We rearrange the chairs and meet and then have a liturgy together (with three or four outside guests) and then a meal together.
This is a close-up of our front door. It’s different from the front door of your house in a couple ways. First, it opens to almost the full width of the room. That is so the family business, set up on the ground floor, is open to street traffic and it also allows families with a car to park it in the living room at night. There is steel grating that can be pulled closed right outside the doors. You can see its dark vertical outline at the left of the door opening. We never use that because the area between the front door and the street is closed off by the gate visible through the door.
This view is looking from the front door toward the back of the house. The passageway on the right leads to the dining room and kitchen. The little room to the left of the corridor is the Maryknoll office where our office manager works.
This room is so noisy! The area between the front door and the street is covered with a metal roof, and in the rainy season the sound of rain is not conducive to our meetings. Also, although we are on a smallish side street, we have heavy traffic going by that is really disturbing.
This view shows the small room above the manager’s office. It’s my room. In a shophouse, it allows the family to oversee the commerce going on on the floor below. The large TV is for Fr. Kevin to watch CNN and I use it for some of the meetings or classes I have to show illustrations of various points. Notice the water dispenser on the right. Most people do not drink the water from the tap. The government says it’s safe and maybe it is when it leaves the water treatment plant, but who knows what the piping distribution system is like. There is no maintenance or updating of infrastructure here.