Today I was riding home in a tuk-tuk and it started to rain. Within fifteen minutes the streets were flooded–and it wasn’t even raining that hard. What is it about Phnom Penh? They keep installing storm sewers–and the streets keep on flooding.
A few days ago I needed to consult with a dermatologist about a lesion I could feel in my hair on the back of my head. When I arrived at the doctor’s office, I found that he had a microphone and speaker attached to the outside of his glass door so that he could speak with the patients without their coming inside the office. Here a mother with a child speaks to the doctor who is not really visible through the Christmas decorations still on his glass door from nine months ago. I was allowed to come into the office but only into the waiting room where he checked my head. He was being super cautious about Covid-19.
When there is only one electrical outlet in a room and when that outlet is located at eye level on the wall, there is a need for a LOT of extension cords.
It’s a bit of a mystery why light switches and AC outlets in Cambodia are placed where they are. Most of the switch boxes are placed at shoulder level. I suspect that is simply a matter of convenience. Houses in Cambodia in the city–where they have electricity–are built of concrete with tile walls. It’s probably just easier to mount a switch receptacle in the concrete wall rather than cut and trim tiles to mount the box at a more useful level.
There is one receptacle on a wall at a more practical level and that is in the living room. Maybe it was intended that the owners would have a television nearby like we do? (Ours is not plugged in because we don’t yet have a cable connection.)
The oddest outlet placement in our new house is in my second room which right now is being used for storage until I can unpack some of the things we moved. This photo is from the doorway of the room. Note the filing cabinets.
The light switch for the room and the only AC outlet is in the rear corner of the room, near the floor! Unfortunately because of the bulk of the filing cabinets, the light switch is even more inaccessible than usual.
Not much in Cambodia is like what you would expect to see in developed countries and electricity is a good example of that. It was less than five years ago that only 27% of Cambodia had electricity. Now there is a push to get the whole country wired.
Electricity not being available meant that houses built in the past were constructed without much consideration for wiring so you can get some really odd (to a western mind) scenarios. I want to give some examples in the next few days.
This is the door of my second-floor bedroom. The only electrical outlets in the room are the two sockets mounted on the light switch at shoulder level by the door. I need outlets for two alarm clocks, a floor lamp, a fan, a noise machine, two phone chargers, and five pieces of computer equipment so I have strung two thirty-foot extension cords to opposite walls. One goes over the door to the left, the other goes down to the floor and to the right.
This is the socket by the door with the two extensions plugged in. There are two switches in this switch box. Only one is wired up. That is the pattern through most of the house so I put a red dot on the switch that is active.
This is a switch out in the hall. It is unusual in that both switches are active. It is less unusual in that the left switch is for the room to the right and the right switch is for the hall to the left. The red arrows serve as reminders that the setup is not what you would expect.
[More to come….]
It’s early morning and a group of collectors of recyclables gather outside a wat (pagoda) near the Maryknoll office. I’m not sure why they come together. Maybe they consolidate their loads, i.e., all the metals in one cart, the paper and cardboard in another, before they go to the recycling hub to collect the pitiful amount they have earned.
Today I had an article appear in The Record, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville. This is the link, if you’re interested:
It is about the way people drive in Cambodia, where anything goes. Look at this guy in the dirty car above. He wants to get some food so he pulls in the wrong lane–with a really major intersecting street behind him–and sits in his car while he waits for them to bring his food to him. Totally oblivious to politeness, courtesy, concern for the common good–not to mention the law.