Mobile Pop-Up Shops on Street 63

In areas with a large informal economy, it is not unusual to find vendors with the same type of merchandise setting up for business right beside each other.  People like it because they know where to go to find certain merchandise and they have a wider range of goods to choose from.

These are mobile pop-up shops selling clothing along Street 63 in the Boeung Keng Kang I area of Phnom Penh.  They are set up alongside the wall surrounding a high school so there is no interference on that side of the street with local comings and goings.

Click here to see the variations in the mobile pop-up shop wagons.

Pleasing the Spirits

Spirits are a big part of life in Cambodia and the basic stance is to keep them happy.  First, you honor and respect the spirits of your ancestors and provide what they might need in the spirit world.  Then you placate–or buy off–the less friendly spirits.  Some spirits in this neighborhood are rather well taken care off:  they have incense above and then a cake and glasses of maybe coffee and apple juice arranged for them.

We Grow ’em Big Here

The tropics are great incubators for big bugs and we have our share of big cockroaches.  We have so many of them that the locals just take them for granted and don’t even react to them.  They are very active at night and on any trip down to the kitchen after dark, they will be in full control–running all over the kitchen counter (where this one is) and going in and out under the backdoor.  And then on any given morning 3-5 of them could be lying on their backs dead or moribund in the kitchen, another 2-3 in the breakfast area, another few in the living room, etc.  They are just a fact of life.  I was really surprised yesterday because I was in a parking lot and one big roach started sauntering across and a Cambodian man stepped on it!  Usually it’s only the foreigners who freak out at them.

Rainy Day Scenes

It rains almost every afternoon now in the Cambodian rainy season and there was a light rain this evening as I came back across town after a wedding rehearsal.  Here is how some people coped with the wet:

If you’re on the back of a motorcycle and don’t have your own raincoat, your line of sight is rather severely restricted. Most people, like this young woman under the driver’s poncho, prefer to be dry than to see where they are going.
As the rain lessened, though, she peeked out from under the poncho.
A less common sight on rainy days is someone driving with an umbrella. You really need to drive slowly to keep it in your hand.

Nobody Else Is Using the Wires!

This is a combination shop you wouldn’t see much in the US.  On the left is a small eatery, selling pre-cooked foods selected by the customer from large pots hopefully covered with lids to keep out the dust.  Muslim customers (this is near a Muslin neighborhood) can eat with no qualms because the sign assures all the food is halal.  On the right, in the contraption on wheels made from chicken wire and shelves, the proprietors are selling all sorts of metal hand tools and utensils–machetes, axes, shovels, hoes, scythes, etc.  To protect their merchandise and their customers, they are hanging a tarpaulin to block the sun and rain.  They are tieing it to the telephone lines, probably figuring it won’t bother anyone–and probably figuring that half of them are non-functioning anyway.

Unexpected Twists and Turns

Yesterday I came back from Bangkok and was planning to post about Day 2 in the city there but when I got home there were a multitude of disruptions that prevented me from getting to this website.

The same happened again today.  I was preparing this evening to start work on a post here and Mother Teresa’s sisters called and asked me to take a mass for them across town early tomorrow morning.  That meant I had to prepare a homily so that shot the website again.

I’ll get something posted tomorrow, though!