Probably most people passing by at street level don’t even know this tree exists. Its lower trunk is gnashed and scarred, its lower branches cut away, and it stands silently as a witness to humanity’s indifference to nature and beauty. Only its leafy crown proclaims its former glory and the long-gone stateliness of the colonial avenue that predated this now commercial strip.
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.
A recent article in The Phnom Penh Post spoke of a plan to beautify Phnom Penh with avenues with sidewalks and trees. That is going to be a challenge.
Most of the sidewalks in Phnom Penh don’t exist or are barely visible because of all the parking and other activity taking place on them.
Even on those rare urban streets that still have trees (like the three above) they and the sidewalks have been taken over so that the woman–and all other pedestrians–must walk in the street.
Yesterday was World Environment Day. Above is a good illustration of what the Royal Government of Cambodia thinks of the environment: a group of young people take a bike ride to promote environmental awareness–and the government seizes, harasses, and stops them. Both the environment and human rights are endangered here.
You’ve been reading about the hot spot in the Pacific near New Zealand and the very high temperatures in Australia and the flood waters in Venice. Well, things are pretty bad here, too. In the article above, the government weather bureau is “warning” people that the temperature is going down to 17º to 19ºC. That is 62.5º to 66.2ºF! So there! Things are difficult here, too!
This is the street in Kampot town where we were waiting for the van back to Phnom Penh. It was sad to see the stumps of seven huge trees across the street from us. I hope there was a REALLY good reason for cutting the trees down and it wasn’t just to make money for someone.
This is original growth forest in Preah Vihear Province, part of 1500 hectares kept as a nature preserve. It is beautiful mountainous woodlands with magnificent trees.
This is the devastation less than 20 miles away where the original forests have been cut, the wood sold off (probably illegally and probably with a government connection), and small farmers have taken over.
I don’t know if it’s better or worse, but another area has been cut and replanted in rubber trees–usually in concessions owned by Cambodian tycoons/ministers or Chinese or Vietnamese companies. You can notice the small cups attached to the right side of each tree to catch the rubber as it flows out.