Sunday, 4 August 2019

Travel to Ho Chi Minh City and then to London.

Sunday morning was just a usual Sunday. Here, on the way to mass at St. Joseph Church, I found workmen renewing a permanent display that features the royal family. I believe the Queen Mother’s photos were there last week, and since they are now removed, it probably means that another of the royal family is having a birthday or special day to remember.
I’ve mentioned before, when you see a woman on a motorcycle with a towel or wrapped in a towel, you can be sure she is holding an infant or toddler, and if you look closely, you can see a small sandaled foot sticking out from under the lower left edge of the pink towel. This family was near the airport as I was riding there.
This worker is open one of the cargo compartments on an Airbus 320 in Phnom Penh that was preparing for a departure shortly before ours.
Our plane to Ho Chi Minh City was a much smaller 64-seat propjet. Here we are deplaning at the Tan Son Nhat airiport in Ho Chi Minh City.
This is one of the best sights I have seen in an airport in many years. Tan Son Nhat airport has discontinued the constant announcements of departures and missing passengers that plague most airports. Now they only announce gate changes. Other airports, take notice!

I arrived a Tan Son Nhat at 6:00 PM but didn’t leave till 1:00 AM the next morning. Luckily the time passed quickly as I ate some pastries I brought with me and caught up on some work and then read more of Les Miserables.

From Ho Chi Minh City….

It’s Sunday night at 11:06 PM and I’m in the airport in Ho Chi Minh City waiting for a flight to London. I’m going to England to attend my nephew’s wedding. It’s a 45-minute flight from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) but I had a seven-hour layover before getting the flight to London’s Heathrow. It wasn’t too bad although I am disappointed I didn’t get a chance to post a full page of photos here from this first part of the trip.

This is the Immigration Department office near the airport in Phnom Penh. I spent a couple hours there on Friday trying to get one of our St. Vincent de Paul Society clients out of the country with a new visa. It’s a long and complicated mess he’s got himself into.

Insulting the nation….

This is the kind of silliness the people of Cambodia must put up with. Their government regularly, frequently, arrests–and jails–people for innocuous Facebook posts. It is not unlikely that some of the offensive posts are actually true, but true or not, the government officials are so sensitive and thin-skinned that a bit of criticism or negative comment draws the thought police. It’s an insult to the people of Cambodia….

Location, Location, Location

In the US supermarkets put impulse purchases on display near the lines where people wait to check out. Because they see the items and they’re convenient, a purchase is more likely. Here in Cambodia there are all sorts of products available on the streets in the hope that people passing by will see the product–the vegetables in this photo–and decide to take some home for dinner. This little “market” is even more strategically placed because the gate on the right is for a garment factory and lots of young women workers will pour in and out of the gate during the day and will be reminded they need to get something for the evening meal.

A Familiar Shop

The foreigners in Cambodia (and probably in other countries) often get into patterns of going to the same stores, interacting with the same people, etc., as one way of acclimating to the different cultural settings we find ourselves in. This is Shop No. 41 in the Russian Market, with the proprietor and her daughter. I have been going there for maybe seventeen years to buy Cambodian goods to take to the US or other places as gifts or souvenirs. She knows me and gives me a good deal and I keep coming back and leading my visitors to her place. I was there this afternoon to buy some gifts to take to England on Sunday when I fly there for my nephew’s wedding.

Official’s Respect….Not

Recently I went to a graduation for a school for children with disabilities. Near the end the graduating students presented small gifts to officials who had come, as a little thank-you. When these two students with disabilities approached this official, he stood and at the same time his phone rang. He pulled out the phone and talked for three to four minutes while the two students–and the whole assembly–waited for him to accept his gift.

Now maybe it was his wife and she was calling with a special ring that they only use for real emergencies–but I suspect that was not the case. I suspect it was another example of the lack of respect and courtesy many government officials show toward the people they are supposed to serve.

Several years ago, we had a similar incident on Deaf Day. The main speaker and honored guest was a high official in a ministry. Right in the middle of her main talk, her phone rang–and she answered it! She talked for three or four minutes and we could hear every word from the microphone on the podium. She said she was busy at the time and then proceeded to set up a lunch date on another day. This is the disrespect and patronizing attitude so many in the government exhibit here.

Salesian Girls Graduation

Every year I attend the graduation of the Salesian Sisters’ girls schools: two of them in Phnom Penh and one in Battambang Province. I have mass every Friday morning at one of the schools so the students and the sisters know me.

Crowding together for a last round of selfies.
Finally it’s time to process into the auditorium for the last time.
There always must be a blessing dance to begin the ceremony.
The underclassmen sing a song for their graduating sisters.