October 8-10 are the three public holidays of this year’s Pchum Ben festival, a traditional religious occasion when people honor their ancestors, particularly by making offerings of rice balls in the pagodas. Click here for some photos from the beginning of the holiday period.
People in Cambodia want to keep the sun off themselves–it’s hot and makes their skin dark–but foods are left out in the sun to dry throughout Cambodia, in the city as well as the countryside. Click here for some examples in Phnom Penh.
Many people have seen the movie The Killing Field and many have visited the killing field near Phnom Penh, the site most people know of. There are actually about 300 killing fields, though, spread throughout the country. There is such a large number of these fields because the number of Cambodians killed by the Khmer Rouge was great. It is generally thought that the Pol Pot regime was responsible for the deaths of perhaps 1.5 to 2 million people. The killing field that most tourists visit is the orange dot along the river, immediately south of Phnom Penh (next to the row of three yellow prison dots).
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.
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.
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.
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.