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.
You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when the weather department issues an alert because the temperature will drop as low as 18ºC. That’s 64.4ºF.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Probably the majority of humanity are feeling a closer relationship with nature these days. Slowly, unobtrusively we people have infringed upon the territory of nature and overwhelmed so much fawna and flora with air and water pollution, destruction of forests, contamination of all sorts. Now we might conjecture that nature is fighting back as so many parts of the world experience devastating fires and floods and drought as nature seeks to re-establish an equilibrium.
On a smaller scale, we might have a more personal, a closer daily experience of nature here in Cambodia. It’s very much a part of our lives. Here are three examples:
Just thirty minutes ago I was washing dishes after eating my rice and leftovers and I had my phone radio playing classical music. I couldn’t hear it, at full volume, because it is raining and the drops hitting the steel sheeting of the kitchen roof totally drowned out the music. And in the picture, the red bucket on the floor is to catch the nature–the raindrops–that are coming through a hole in the steel sheeting.
Lightning takes a huge toll on the people and cows of Cambodia. Practically every thunderstorm there are fatalities in one group or the other–or both, because daily life here is so close to and exposed to nature. In the photo are five cows killed by a lightning strike a few days ago.
We had a major power outage yesterday, caused by a faulty transformer that cut power to a large part of the country. Mechanical problems are matched by natural ones, though, as this snake on a utility pole discovered.
The trees of Phnom Penh have been tortured and disfigured over the last century–and many of them did not survive–but some are still making a strong effort to keep going with new shoots and branches. It says something about the in-built striving for life that is part of creation.