This is a common site on the streets of Phnom Penh—one woman picking lice out of the hair of another woman or girl. Women here wear their hair long and it provides a natural environment for the lice which are extremely difficult to get rid of. For guys, they just shave their head to solve the problem which is perfectly acceptable and not so uncommon, but for women the search-and-kill approach usually gets tried first. The lice make one quite cautious in borrowing another’s motorcycle helmet.
Unfortunately too much of life in Cambodia comes down to money. Not much happens here without money–often LOTS of money–being part of the deal. Cambodia is moving from a developing country into the lower middle income bracket and that generates lots of opportunities for gifts and bonuses and outright graft. The prime minister is known by some business people as Mr. Ten Percent. Things that would be free of commercial taint, like traffic signs in other countries, become income generators here.
When I worked in a girls high school in the United States, it was every girl’s dream to be a cheerleader. Here in Cambodia, the girls dream of being Apsara dancers–and they start early.
This scene is not uncommon in Cambodia—a young man with a mango picker, a long bamboo pole with some sort of basket at the end to put around a mango so that the mango is caught when it is pulled from the tree. This boy already has one mango in his hand. A question: is he collecting mangoes from his own trees or using the long pole to reach into others’ yards to get their fruit?
In an earlier post, a man was selling standard motorcycle shocks. This man has shocks, too, but heavy duty stuff!
In Moving Up earlier, I opined that the advent of a market for new and used water coolers, washing machines, and other appliances is an indicator of Cambodia’s gradual rising to a lower middle income country. Another such indicator is the increasing number of electrical shops that used to sell 50-watt bulbs and are now selling high-end chandeliers. They know some people have money and are will to part with it to show their new-found status.