Close to Nature

Probably the majority of humanity are feeling a closer relationship with nature these days. Slowly, unobtrusively we people have infringed upon the territory of nature and overwhelmed so much fawna and flora with air and water pollution, destruction of forests, contamination of all sorts. Now we might conjecture that nature is fighting back as so many parts of the world experience devastating fires and floods and drought as nature seeks to re-establish an equilibrium.

On a smaller scale, we might have a more personal, a closer daily experience of nature here in Cambodia. It’s very much a part of our lives. Here are three examples:

Just thirty minutes ago I was washing dishes after eating my rice and leftovers and I had my phone radio playing classical music. I couldn’t hear it, at full volume, because it is raining and the drops hitting the steel sheeting of the kitchen roof totally drowned out the music. And in the picture, the red bucket on the floor is to catch the nature–the raindrops–that are coming through a hole in the steel sheeting.

Lightning takes a huge toll on the people and cows of Cambodia. Practically every thunderstorm there are fatalities in one group or the other–or both, because daily life here is so close to and exposed to nature. In the photo are five cows killed by a lightning strike a few days ago.

We had a major power outage yesterday, caused by a faulty transformer that cut power to a large part of the country. Mechanical problems are matched by natural ones, though, as this snake on a utility pole discovered.

Bad Week for Animals

The last couple years the power situation in Phnom Penh improved but recently–in 2022–things have taken a turn for the worse. We have had more and more outages, some of them several hours long. We had one yesterday that lasted about 40 minutes and it turned out it was because of the above snake. He paid the ultimate price for inconveniencing a large part of the city.

Street Food

Street food is a major part of life in Phnom Penh. Some of the little stands and stalls and carts are available only in the morning, others only at night, some all day long.

Here is a woman making some morning treat out on the street. Notice the charcoal fire, the main way of cooking in Cambodia.
I’m not sure what it is that the woman was steaming. It looks like it’s rice but there must be something special about it, particularly because it’s served in such a small portion.

All is not what it seems….

Cambodia has made some real improvements in its drive to move from a least-developed country to a medium-developed country. Not all improvements have been substantive and enduring, though. Take electrification. Just five or six years ago only 27% of the country had electricity. Today many more people have power–most of the time.

Sunday night some time after midnight I woke up and realized the power had just gone off. My fan was off and the white noise machine was silent. I figured there was nothing I could do about it and went back to sleep. Then the power coming back on 3 1/2 hours later woke me again because it made my electric alarm clock play a jingle.

Then in the Khmer Times newspaper we got this little article where the electricity company apologized for some error that knocked out the lights for all of Phnom Penh (1+ million people) and the surrounding counties and even Siem Reap 200 miles away.

When I got up I took a shower but then the water went off. It turns out the loss of electricity knocked out the water system, too!