First rain

This is Street 53BT in Boeung Tum Pun where I live and this is the flood I stepped out of my house into when we got the first rain of the season a few days ago. April and May are the two hottest months in Cambodia and they were REALLY hot this year. This overnight rain helped to bring the temperature under 100ºF.

Earth Day

Some notes about our Earth (from the Morning Brew website):

  • Earth happens to be located in a remote corner of the Milky Way, a location that presents fewer threats, like a huge star devouring us with its gravity. The star we do have nearby, the sun, is stable and the perfect distance away to sustain liquid water (important!).
  • When the sun does send deadly flares our way, they’re not calamitous because the Earth’s core produces a magnetic field that deflects radiation.

Caritas Cambodia Retreat 2024 / Day 4a

Today was a get-to-know-your-country day for the Caritas Cambodia staff. Most of the day was spent visiting several interesting sites around Sihanoukville.

It wasn’t on the schedule but we had a mass after breakfast before getting on the road.
The first stop was a mangrove restoration area where the staff planted mangrove seedlings to restore those trees that are so important in maintaining healthy coastal areas.

The seedlings could be planted anywhere in the water but were to be two meters apart from other seedlings.

After the planting we had a rice box lunch at this house isolated in a really remote area.
There is no electricity in this isolated marshlands area so the solar panels on the roof supply some lighting and phone charging.


[Photo from the Khmer Times]

Asian countries seem to have a real problem with lightning. This past year 84 people were killed by lightning in Cambodia, 59 others were injured, and 107 cattle were killed. This compares to an average of about 30 people per year killed by lightning in the United States with a population of 330 million compared to Cambodia’s 16 million. Of course, though, most of Cambodia’s people spend a good part of their life outdoors.

Human Rights for the Deaf 4

The training for judges and prosecutors working with people with disabilities was organized by the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (or UN Human Rights). It was held at the Angkor Paradise Hotel which seemed to have five or six UN and NGO meetings going on while still accommodating hordes of tourists come to see Angkor Wat.

The Angkor Paradise Hotel is a beautiful facility but much of its beauty comes from its (over) use of luxury woods native to Cambodia, one of its treasures.

The hotel lobby exhibited the characteristic Cambodia display of wooden furniture, figures, and objects.
The shops in the lobby were accented by massive wooden stools. Imagine the huge luxury trees sacrificed to provide these five incredibly heavy wooden decorations in the corridor.

Another section of the lobby.
Wooden chairs and a carving worth thousands of dollars decorate one of the passageways. These chairs are really unusual because they are padded! I have never seen that in 23 years here. For me one of the curses of Cambodia is sitting in a doctor’s waiting room with these huge wooden chairs, designed for a Cambodian sense of beauty and not for comfort.
The Angkor Paradise Hotel has a beautiful pool.
And of course the pool furniture is more of the heavy wooden style.


When I first came to Phnom Penh, one of the institutions of the capital city was Sambo the elephant who spent the day at Wat Phnom giving rides for tourists. That was his life until he was retired in 2014 to an elephant refuge in the mountains where he spent the last nine years of his life in peace until he died this past week.

Sambo would daily trek along the busy streets from the park where he stayed to the wat.
One Sunday I was at Wat Phnom for some event and Sambo came by. I was talking with the Australian Ambassador and some colleague offered her a ride on Sambo. I don’t like the idea of using animals that way but she needed someone to accompany her so I had my only elephant ride that day.

New Wheels 2

Back on January 1st, I showed some pictures of the small motorized tuk-tuks that have become the new norm for public transportation in Cambodian cities. Four models with LPG-powered engines were featured.

Well, there’s a new kid on the block. The Onion is a new version of the now familiar motorized tuk-tuks but it is different for two reasons. First, it is produced in Cambodia! It was completely designed here and is locally manufactured. And secondly, it is electric. It has a lighter plastic body and a really quiet electric motor to propel it.