Topics: Motorcycles #1

Motorcycles are the number one mode of transportation in Cambodia.  They are not only cheap and reliable, but they can also go places, e.g., along the dikes between rice paddies, where cars and tuk-tuks can’t venture.  This is the first of a series of photos about the development of motorcycles in Cambodia.  Click here to see the first generation.

Capturing the Culture

Occasionally, just for a lark, the Maryknoll Lay Missioners group in Cambodia goes for a “glam photo,” all of us westerners dressed up in traditional Khmer costumes.  The photo shop crew takes individual shots of each person dressed in the color of his or her choice and then takes several group shots.  Here a photographer adjusts Sami Scott’s head to get just the right angle while Russ Brine and Hang Tran wait their turn.

The King’s Birthday

King Sihomani gets a three-day holiday for is birthday.  It seems a bit much but Cambodia is known for its excessive number of public holidays (24 vs 11 in the United States).  Today is the second day of this holiday with one more to go, and then it’s back to work on Wednesday.

Khmer New Year Day 3

The third day of the new year traditionally is focused on honoring statues of Buddha but there was not much sign of that in Phnom Penh.  Maybe it was taking place in the provinces.  Probably later tonight we will see real traffic jams as the hundreds of thousands of people start returning to the city.

I went out to a convenience store in a neighborhood where there are a lot of expatriate residents and it was open, but most of the other businesses were closed up tight light this car care center. Even the tuk-tuk driver was sleeping on the back seat because of lack of business.
Our street was still blocked–for the fourth day now–by a funeral tent. It is one of the most ridiculous customs allowed here, blocking streets for weddings and funerals. It’s a carryover from the rural past when people put up tents for special celebrations in public places because there were no halls or big rooms. Now there are but they still block streets. Normally a family will block it overnight or for one day. This family will have the tent for at least five days, probably to show that they have the money to do it.

Khmer New Year Day 2

This new year celebration is not like most through the years because two of the three days fall on a weekend.  In the past the government would give an extra day for that but they have abolished that practice.  One aspect that is the same as previous years is the much emptied city.  Here are some pictures of Phnom Penh today.

Khmer New Year Day 1

It’s not only the local Cambodians who have abandoned Phnom Penh.  Many, many of the expatriates here have followed the locals on to the highways for a long holiday weekend for the Khmer New Year.  Today, the first day of the new year, we saw attendance at our Saturday evening mass down a great deal.


Khmer New Year’s Eve

The official new year celebration starts tomorrow but many (most?) people have already taken off from work and the city has largely emptied out.  Still there was plenty to do for the people who stayed behind.  Click here to see some of the new year’s eve scenes.