Unsafe at any speed

When large areas of Phnom Penh were locked down and restaurants were closed or forbidden to have eat-in diners, the food delivery services bloomed all over the city. And very quickly these drivers developed their own ethos: anything goes. Cambodia has never been a nation to follow the discipline of careful driving and now these delivery people take driving arrogance to a new level. There is no law they do not flout, and since there is no traffic law enforcement, they have established themselves as a dangerous, separate entity in the life of the city–driving too fast, not stopping for lights, driving in the opposite lanes, watching their phones to find the delivery address, cutting through and around normal traffic. There is no limit.

Baby Monks

Monks are a large and prominent part of Cambodian culture. There are many, many wats throughout the country, and there are thousands of monks. There are men who are monks for one week; there are men who are monks for many decades. There are monks who are educated; there are monks who have little school learning. There are elderly monks; there are young boys who are studying to become monks.

Here are some pictures of young boys who are part of the monk society. They live in the wats (pagodas) and go with the monks as they make their rounds begging each day. In this era of concern about the sexual abuse of children, the presence of the young boys living with the adult monks seems strange. There is very little abuse mentioned but it may be that the culture covers it up and does not talk about it if it happens.

The PM speaks…

On 1 July Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke to the kingdom by Zoom for more than two hours . Some of his points:

  • He was in quarantine because his hairdresser had Covid-19
  • People infected with the Delta variant will be quarantined for three weeks instead of two
  • Cambodians working Thailand should not try to hurry back to Cambodia now that construction sites in Thailand are closed for a month
  • He recommended “Chinese medicines” he said have been used to treat Covid-19 in the Middle East
  • He ordered the Finance Ministry to buy up 80% of the coffins in the country to keep at hospitals.

We’ll see if his admonitions about anti-Covid-19 precautions are heeded.

Fruits and Flowers

A lot of things are different now because of Covid-19. The big wet markets around the city have become hotbeds of infections so they have been shut down. All those selling inside the markets have now moved out onto the street. This woman sells to two different groups, those wanting flowers and those wanting fruits.


A woman stands at her cooked meat stall outside a big market in Phnom Penh. Normally this block of food stalls is crowded but with Covid-19 alarming people, the woman probably waits more than she used to for hungry customers.


The shophouse–a building one-room wide and four stories tall–is the norm in Phnom Penh. the ground floor opens on to the street and is the locus for the business, whatever it is. The family live behind and above the shop. Here a woman minds her housewares shop while chopping vegetables for dinner.