Cambodia is trying hard to be a more modern country and in some ways–more paved streets, high-rise buildings, horrendous traffic–it has succeeded. But there are other elements of daily life that hearken back to the 18th century and beyond. One of those is the use of firewood for cooking. 80% of Cambodia uses wood or charcoal to cook every day, both at home and in the restaurants on the streets. It takes a tremendous toll on the remaining forests of the kingdom.
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.
If you judge by their driving habits, Cambodians are an undisciplined group. With many coming from remote areas with dirt roads where cars can’t even go, the idea of following driving laws is novel and not easily accepted. There are many other areas of life, too, where modern practices–and requirements–of city life don’t resonate with people who grew up in a small bamboo house next to a rice paddy.
One exception to the lack of discipline, though, is sweeping–sweeping your street, your property, your house, your school, whatever you have. Sweeping is a MUST. Basically every business and household has someone sweeping in front of their building every morning. It’s just something Cambodians do….
A prominent feature of the Phnom Penh urban landscape is the number of tree stumps left standing throughout the city. Click here to see some of them.
Most of the stately old trees of Phnom Penh boulevards are gone now. But there are still many tortured remnants of what used to be. Click here for photos.
Visitors to Phnom Penh are usually amazed at the amount of wiring strung above the city streets, some of it probably there since electricity came to Phnom Penh. Click here to see some of the loose ends of cut wires.
Just about every wire ever strung from the poles of Phnom Penh seems to be still there. The mass of wiring above the streets is remarkable. Click here to see some of it.
They keep coming….
Phnom Penh has an unreal number of coffee shops per person. They’re everywhere and still more keep opening. Click here to see some of the newer coffee shops soon to open.
Society is changing in Cambodia and some of the changes are real progress. In this last of three postings about vehicles and transportation in Phnom Penh, click here to see some of “the other” modes.
Here are more photos of transportation modes in Phnom Penh, this time focusing the slower and more pedestrian ways of getting around. Click here to see the pictures.