Flood damage

The recent flooding–still continuing–has caused a lot of inconvenience to people forced to move, and disruption to people going to work and school. It has also caused a lot of physical damage to the streets. The Cambodians have never actually caught on how to properly pave a road–the usual 1/8th inch of asphalt over gravel doesn’t work so well–and the repeated submersion in water has taken its toll, with many streets now well potholed.

Changing cityscape

This block near the Maryknoll office illustrates the shifting nature of the city. On the corner is an old traditional wooden house, modified with more modern side paneling and a small business on the ground floor. Then there are two four-story houses, the new normal for most of the Phnom Penh residents, and then in the background is the Era Hotel, closed since March, but a visible expression of the high-rise architecture spreading through the city.

Daddy’s working

On take-your-child-to-work day, parents around the world let their children see where they work and how they earn a living. In a country where there is no daycare and mother is probably working in a garment factory, this little boy spends every day with his father who repairs flat tires on the side of the road.

Heavy weather

This is the rainy season in Cambodia, there is a tropical storm affecting a whole area of Southeast Asia, and we had a really heavy storm for about an hour this afternoon. I like rain and needed to go to the grocery so I ventured out when the storm was at its heaviest.

This is when I was coming home from the grocery and the actual rain has stopped falling. This is a really shallow area. When I was bicycling in the worst-affected areas, my foot and the pedal where six inches below the surface
The garbage collectors are on strike now and there are piles like this all over the city. Luckily this pile is in shallow water. In the deeper areas, the plastic bags of trash have gone sailing away in the rushing waters in the streets.
This section of street is about ten feet lower than the main road which was built up precisely to be a dike against flooding of large areas of the city. But now all that water collected on the elevated road flows down to streets like this and is under such pressure that it flows out of the sewers at this lower level.

They’re Back!

In most countries around the world almost everyone has been affected by the closure of businesses and a reduction in commerce due to the pandemic. Cambodia has been spared much of that, and even the restaurants that closed in March are now back open and many operating as if there never was a virus. Particularly hard hit were the street vendors who depended on the thousands of school kids who eat meals and snack on the way to and from school. Basically all the schools are now reopened in Phnom Penh—on a limited basis–and the vendors are really happy to see this boy and girl and their classmates to help them recoup some of their lost income over the past seven or eight months.