Daily Life in Cambodia  2013


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30 December 2013

Motorcycle load of bungee straps





Motorcycle Loads #190

"I always like to have a bungee cord with me, just in case...."





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27 December 2013

Suburban transportation in Phnom Penh

Within Phnom Penh, most people get around by bicycles or motorcycle taxis or tuk-tuks. When the trip extends to outlying areas of the city, many locals switch to these remarques, just a motorcycle-pulled wagon with 2x4s strapped to it for seats. It's cheap and generally gets the job done although you have to wait till it gets filled before the driver will start off.


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17 December 2013

Traffic in Phnom Penh


Traffic is getting incredibly bad in Phnom Penh. Many, many streets are jammed solid in the morning and evening rush hours, and many others are just blocked up through most of the day, especially around schools where the westerners and rich Cambodians send their children. There is no off-street parking in the city, the streets are narrow, there is little traffic law and no traffic enforcement, etc., etc. It just gets worse and worse and the government doesn't do a thing!


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16 December 2013

Selling fire extinguishersProbably 99% of the shops in Cambodia are in what they call "shop houses," a three (or more) story building with no front wall at street level, just a metal sliding-grate door that can be pushed aside to make the ground floor a shop. Every morning all the wares are trundled out on to the sidewalk and every evening they are carried back inside. It's the Cambodian way. Here is a shop selling fire extinguishers and various kinds of compressed gases.

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15 December 2013

Dangerous moto driving





Motorcycle Loads #189

"Maybe I should invest in a couple bungee straps...."





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14 December 2013

Jackfruit on a tree




Another fruit that is in season now in December is jackfruit. The fruits are huge, each weighing ten to twenty pounds, and this tree in the front yard of the Maryknoll office has twenty-two fruits growing on it now. The landlord has put up extra high panels on the fence to keep passers-by from stealing the fruit as it matures.




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13 December 2013

Selling pomelo juice




Different periods of the year in Cambodia are marked not so much by the weather as by the fruits that are available. The weather stays much the same; the fruits change. Now it is pomelo season. It is a fruit much like a grapefruit in size, shape, and texture, but with a distinctive taste.




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11 December 2013

Truckload of young people




They aren't traveling because of Christmas (they don't even know what that is), but this truckload of young people is on some journey, along with all their gear packed into the back of a pickup truck.




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9 December 2013

Headline: Cold Snap

Some places in the United States are enduring winter cold spells now. Well, so is Cambodia! Look at this headline! The article says "The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology warned Cambodians to prepare for a cold snap that is expected to last until mid-January.... the ministry's website put temperatures in Phnom Penh at 70º [and] said in some areas of the country temperatures could drop as low as 57º....warning citizens to wear more layers of clothing to protect against the cold..."

The foreigners here all think it's like heaven on earth--although showers without hot water ARE a bit brisk--but the locals are wearing everything they own.


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7 December 2013

Bella Voce concert

Several members of our Catholic English community belong to a choral group called Bella Voce. The pianist for Bella Voce is Miwako Fujiwara who also plays the keyboard for our Sunday morning mass. Tonight they had a Christmas concert in a hotel ballroom, and it was another wonderful performance.


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5 December 2013

Phnom Penh skyline at dusk


When Charlie Dittmeier came to Phnom Penh almost fourteen years ago, there was just one building above four stories tall. Now taller and taller buildings are everywhere on the skyline. This is a picture taken at dusk from one of the upper floors of the Caritas building where we had a meeting.




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29 November 2013

Varied loads on a motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #188

Chickens in the front, fish in the back (in the box), the wife on top....all is right with the world.





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22 November 2013

A big, light load




It's not common that I can get a front shot of a loaded motorcycle since most of the time I'm riding on the back of one myself and can't see behind me. Today I was in a tuk-tuk that passed this load and I was able to grab a shot.





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13 November 2013

Food cart in the evening


We had to go across town this evening to a ceremony in the new Catholic center in Phnom Penh Thmey. The Phnom Penh traffic was unbelievably bad. It took more than an hour to go 5.5 miles. As the evening got darker and darker we sat in traffic by this vendor hawking some kind of fried foods. I was beginning to think we would still be there at breakfast time and could avail ourselves of her services. ...And in all this, the Phnom Penh government, the country government doesn't care....


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10 November 2013

Phnom Penh hardware storeMost shops in Cambodia are open front and right on the street, like this hardware store near my house. Most of what you see is out on the street--or what would be a sidewalk if the culture believed in them--and so what you see has to be put back inside the store every evening and then brought back out every morning. But that's just an expected part of doing business in Cambodia and keeps the proprietor busy for the first and last hours of the day.


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14 October 2013

Loaded motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #186

I'm sure both this driver and the passenger will be glad when this ride is finished.




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12 October 2013

A clothing shop


When I took the picture, I thought these little girls were playing in front of the house on wash day (which is usually every day in Cambodia), but then I saw that they are in the display room of their mother's clothing shop. All the clothes hanging up are for sale.



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11 October 2013

Russian HospitalToday our our social service manager came to me and said that one of our students had been taken to a doctor at a hospital and the doctor recommended that he stay there for observation. I asked the staff to inform me when one of the young deaf people in our charge goes to the hospital but the manager's approach involved more than that. He wanted to know who would stay with the boy because the government hospitals might--or might not--have a doctor and maybe a nurse, but they don't have patient care staff. Someone must go to the hospital with the sick person to clean them, take them to the toilet, feed them, etc. The social worker was asking who we could get to do that because the hostel house parents were shorthanded. We had to hire another staff who welcomed the prospect of earning ten dollars for staying with the sick young man twenty-four hours a day, feeding him, etc. We also had to allocate some money for food because the hospital has no food service. It's better not to get sick in Cambodia unless you have money to go to one of the foreign-connected private hospitals--and even those are generally rather rustic. This picture is of the "Russian Hospital," one of the major government hospitals but also one that lacks staff, equipment, nursing service, food service, etc.


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10 October 2013

Electrical wires in shower stallConstruction Quirks #3


Because there are no building codes enforced and because practicality trumps aesthetics in Cambodia, these electrical wires stick out of the wall next to the shower head in a shower stall in our house in Phnom Penh. At some point someone installed a hot water heater for the shower—there is no central hot water in houses in the country—and probably moved it to another room or to another house when they stopped using this room. Now I have the room and the old wires just stick out of the wall, making it very easy to end it all, if one desires, while taking a shower.



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7 October 2013

Cambodian service station

Open for business. The compressor is for pumping air into tires. The black plastic pan is for looking for bubbles caused by holes in flat tires. The stools are for the customer having a flat fixed. The hammock is for....


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4 October 2013

Small fluorescent lightsConstruction Quirks #2

Electricity is a relatively new household item in Cambodia. Even in the capital city, Phnom Penh, not all the city has electricity and the limited coverage is provided by a patchwork of small contractors who are not quite reliable. Power outages from national grid problems and from local wiring problems are common. This makes electricity quite expensive, and because houses are often not designed with electricity in mind and because people are trying to save money, the light fixtures are basically inadequate. Cambodian buildings are dark. This is the porch of our deaf office and it has two circular small fluorescent lights to light up the outside. Two big four-tube fixtures would hardly be enough. With these two small fixtures on 14-foot ceilings, it's difficult to know if the light is on or off or not.

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2 October 2013

Sugarcane on a motorcycle




Motorcycle Loads #186

You don't want to ride too close to this man in traffic. It's a load of sugarcane, to be squeezed to make a sweet drink.



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1 October 2013

Loose garbage on the streetThis morning, on the street in front of the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's sisters) orphanage, there was a knee-high pile of loose wet garbage, not an uncommon sight. The local garbage crew just backed up their truck and used pitchforks to deposit the trash into the rear of the truck. There are regular garbage collection routes though a large part of Phnom Penh but there is no system for depositing the garbage prior to pick up. There are no garbage cans. Instead the truck blows an air horn as it creeps through the streets and people come running out with paper bags, boxes, etc., full of garbage for collection. Or they just pile it on the corner like in this photo.

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30 September 2013

Wat Lanka at Pchum Ben timeMost countries have an annual festival day or day of remembrance in which they remember and honor their deceased family members. In Cambodia it is called Pchum Ben, and in typical Khmer fashion, it is two weeks long. During this time families go to a wat or temple to pray and make offerings of flowers and food and incense. The celebration culminates in the last three days which are national holidays. This year it will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 3-5 October. Sunday in Pchum Ben is a good time to go to the pagodas because people are off from work and this was the scene outside of Wat Lanka in Phnom Penh yesterday. Cars were double and triple-parked in the street outside, and then as people entered the wat, they passed through the sellers of flowers and incense, and then through the lines of beggars. Inside monks would chant and accept offerings all day.

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29 September 2013

Drunk driving sign

In most countries--and in all the alcohol advertising in Cambodia, there are warnings against drinking and driving, with admonitions such as "Drink responsibly." However, in Phnom Penh, along Street 598, this sign seems to give the opposite message: "Let's drink and drive." I'll have to get someone to translate the Khmer wording to see if the same message is found there.

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27 September 2013

Kitchen sink plumbingConstruction Quirks #1

We rent a large house, called a villa in Cambodian parlance, which we use for classrooms for religious education and for a residence (upstairs) for the priests. The landlord's family lives in Texas. Somewhere along the line they got some money, and in typical fashion put up a gaudy building as cheaply as possible. Nothing meets any standards; no codes were followed.

A few days ago, we found water all over the floor of the kitchen and discovered that the plumbing under the double sink had just fallen off. The connectors don't fit so the drain pipes were just jammed up against the drain outlets under the sink and propped up with bricks. It was a weekend so we used a wooden pole and a stone mortar for grinding food, turned upside down, to jam the pipes together again until we could repair it better on Monday.

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24 September 2013

Motorcycle load of durians




Motorcycle Loads #185

It's durian time again! Perhaps Asia's most distinctive fruit, it has a large following despite its reputation for a fearsome smell--"Tastes like heaven, smells like hell!" When carried on the back of a motorcycle, its spikey hull makes it easy to tie them on securely.



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16 September 2013

Motorcycle with wagon




These are the pickup trucks of Cambodia.






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14 September 2013

Passing out leaflets
passing out leaflets




A not uncommon sight at busy intersections--at least at those with stop lights where there is enough traffic to force people to stop--is young men and women passing out leaflets or handbills advertising anything from furniture to foods to phones. Unlike in many other countries, the stopped motorists willingly accept the papers, here distributed by the young man in the mask, and look at them and then stuff them in their pocket. The culture generally throws all trash on the ground so I am always intrigued that in this instance the papers are not immediately thrown into the street.







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13 September 2013

Bales of blue jeans



 What's the best way to ship 100 or 200 pairs of blue jeans? Bale them! I'm guessing these people are opening an imported bale and readying the jeans for distribution to local markets.



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6 September 2013

Uncomfortable load





Motorcycle Loads #184

"It'd probably be easier if I just got a couple long bungee cords...."





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5 September 2013

Getting out of the rain

Most of the vehicles in Phnom Penh are motorbikes and they can be very uncomfortable when it starts to rain, as it does often now in the rainy season. Some people carry a rain poncho with them and stop in the nearest gas station to put it on. Others don't have a poncho and just congregate in the gas station till the rain passes over. Both groups block all access to the pumps but no one seems to get out of sorts about that. It's just the way you're supposed to do things in Cambodia.


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25 August 2013

Motorbike decorations

The fad now for the young people in Phnom Penh is to decorate their motorbikes with all sorts of stickers and labels and signs. This Honda model called a Scoopy-i comes already plastered with pop-art, but for those driving older models, there are more and more shops selling all kinds of stickers, from famous soccer teams to abstract art, that can be applied. The imaginations of the owner and of the sticker man are the only limits.


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23 August 2013

Traffic chaos in Phnom Penh

This is morning traffic at an intersection in Phnom Penh. There is a policeman in there somewhere--I am sure I heard his whistle although I never saw him--but the policeman cannot be counted on to help much. They have no power and almost no understanding of how to direct traffic, and then no one pays any attention to them. People just go around them and do what they want and the police can do nothing about it.


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20 August 2013

Loaded motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #183

Somehow neither the driver nor the passenger on this motorcycle looks very comfortable.





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19 August 2013

Closed up hospital



Rather indicative of the precarious and unpredictable state of health care in Cambodia, this rather new hospital is tightly shuttered at 6:30 AM. Maybe there are no patients. Maybe there are no staff. Who knows?

And notice the coils of utility wire hung on the pole in front.



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18 August 2013

Probably half the copper wire in Phnom Penh is hanging on various utility poles around the city! It is a very common practice to store coils of wire on the poles, probably in anticipation of further expansion of cable TV networks and such. It is almost certainly not for landline telephones. There are less than 22,000 landlines in the whole country. Cambodia was so slow in implementing telephone service that they just skipped the landline networks and moved straight into wireless phones.

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14 August 2013

Street vendor food




Elegant sidewalk dining (if there were a sidewalk), a drive-through lane...what more could a nice restaurant offer?





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11 August 2013
Click here to view pictures of the ubiquitous Phnom Penh car washes.

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8 August 2013

Carrying a door on a motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #182

"It's pretty good with the sun... I wonder how it'd do in the rain?"





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7 August 2013

Setting up clothes market


The markets open early here, usually about dawn, as the Cambodian world gets going. This man is a low-budget operator. Rather than pay for a stall, he just spreads out huge bags of clothes on old rice sacks he spreads on the pavement. It saves some money but it's a lot of work bagging those mountains of clothes every evening and then spreading them out again the next morning.



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6 August 2013

Six teenagers on a motorcycle


Anything goes in Cambodia with its lack of normally functioning government, judicial system, education system, medical system, etc., and becomes the norm, but occasionally some scenes do make you look twice. Here are six teenage boys all riding--they're not stopped--on a little 90-cc Honda Cholly motorbike, the smallest in the Honda line. Getting six people on a Cholly is an accomplishment. Then, getting it to move, an ever greater one! And of course the police see nothing wrong with this.


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4 August 2013
Click here to view pictures of one type of female motorcyclist footware.

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3 August 2013

Old safes in Cambodian restaurant

"You can take THAT to the bank!" is a common expression in many countries, but not in Cambodia. Banks are not trusted here, offer very poor service, and are generally weak. When I first came to Cambodia, it required $4 million to capitalize—to setup--a bank. That was changed a few years later to $13 million and more than ten banks went under. Now the minimum capitalization is $32 million. Because of the distrust of banks most businesses use wooden boxes and safes like these—from a restaurant in Kandall Province—to store their profits and provide operating capital. There is a lot of hanky-panky that goes on behind the scenes in the banks, too. We are currently dealing with a bank's attempt literally to extort money from us.


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1 August 2013

BIG load on a motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #171

I think the driver went to find someone who can help him get on the motorcycle and get going....




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31 July 2013

A popular game in Cambodia is kicking a shuttlecock. Often in the evenings, especially on construction sites where the guys live in the building they are constructing, the young men get out in the street to kick the shuttlecock from one to another. Down on the riverfront, they have a group that is often there on Sunday mornings, and they are REALLY good! They stand in a special court painted on the pavement and they kick the shuttlecock but only BEHIND their backs. It is amazing how accurate they are.

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22 July 2013

motordupe and tuk-tuk driversWe're well into the annual rainy season in Cambodia and it's raining almost every day, usually in the afternoon. It pays to carry a raincoat if one is venturing out after 3:00 PM or so. These tuk-tuk and motordupe drivers are waiting for customers on a street corner in the Boeung Keng Kong neighborhood. The sun is trying to peek through but a couple of the drivers have their plastic rain ponchos hanging on nearby limbs where they can be grabbed quickly if a beckoning customer and the rain arrive simultaneously.

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18 July 2013

Phnom Penh sunset



We are in the rainy season now in Cambodia, with rain almost every afternoon. The rains come and often start to disappear about sunset, with the clouds creating a variety of beautiful skies.




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17 July 2013

Motorcycle loaded with vegetables





Motorcycle Loads #180

"I wonder if I forgot anything.... I don't want my wife mad at me."





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16 July 2013

Urban farm in Phnom Penh

A large part of the Phnom Penh population is not native to the city--a very large part. Some migrated here and took over empty houses after their owners were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Others have migrated here for economic reasons. Most are small village farmers at heart and many hang on to the farming and village way of life, their real lifestyle rather than their adopted one in the city. It is not unusual to hear roosters crowing throughout the city in the morning and groups of cows wander the streets on the outer edges of town. Rarer, though, are the patches of land that have been retained for agricultural use in the city. This is one that has survived in the Boeung Tum Pun area near the Maryknoll Seedling of Hope project.


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12 July 2013

Starbucks T-shirts




Starbucks T-shirts are the big fad now in Phnom Penh—although there are no Starbucks outlets in the country. Shop owners report selling 20+ shirts a day as the craze reached its peak.





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29 June 2013

Selling smuggled gas on the street




Smuggling gasoline is a not uncommon practice in Cambodia, especially in the border provinces. A good portion of it makes its way to Phnom Penh where it is sold along the streets. I didn't go up to this man and ask him if his gasoline was smuggled, but....




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19 June 2013

Cambodian visa

I got a wonderful surprise today. I got my passport back from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where it had been sent to get a new visa so that I can work and stay in Cambodia, and they gave me 1½ years—till 31 December 2014! That is unheard of! Usually at most we get 1 year while the majority of our visas are for six months. What made this one particularly curious is that our Memorandum of Understanding between Maryknoll and the government will expire and must be renewed in November and normally they will not give a visa extending beyond the end of the present MoU. No one can figure out how I got such a long visa. It's probably a fluke because no one else got one like that, but I'll take it!


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18 June 2013

Child with umbrella




As we were leaving the Deaf Community Center today, we passed a mother and her young son on the street as it began to sprinkle rain. The boy wasn't paying much attention to the rain but enjoyed the umbrella.




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16 June 2013

Boys planing in water




We are definitely in the rainy season in Cambodia now, the beginning of a rainy period which will last another four or five months. Today the rains really poured down during our morning mass and afterwards these boys were playing in a parking lot flooded with three or four inches of water.




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15 June 2013

Loaded motorcycle wagon



 Motorcycle Loads #179

Sometimes the loads on a motorcycle are just a matter of balancing strange or bulky objects on the back of a two-wheeler. Sometimes the loads are impressive just because of their sheer volume pulled by a 90cc worn out and broken down motorbike.



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14 June 2013

Passengers in a van




Most transportation in Cambodia is neither safe nor comfortable.






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12 June 2013

Yellow passenger van

There are a few inter-city buses that serve a few destinations in Cambodia but for most people who don't own a vehicle usable for long distances, vans like these are the only means of transport. This one is jammed with goods. Not seen are the fifteen to twenty people also crammed inside. It's not a fun experience. Recently more and more of these vans are painted yellow. I'm wondering if the government passed some sort of regulation requiring that color.


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9 June 2013

Toll booth speed bump



Many things are different in Cambodia. One anomaly--for me--is the placing of speed bumps where they slow down traffic LEAVING the highway toll booths. Slowing down traffic approaching a toll booth I can understand. The reason for slowing down traffic leaving a toll booth eludes me.



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2 June 2013

Dog on a motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #178

Not all motorcycle loads are big and bulky.





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17 May 2013

Motorcycle Loads #177

This guy is an accident waiting to happen. All the boxes are strapped together except the lone one on top, and it has moved dangerously to the edge and is a threat to anyone riding beside him. Of course, he can't see it and doesn't understand or is ignoring the threat he presents to others on the street who could get hit with a case of filled water bottles.

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15 May 2013

Advertizing stickers


Perhaps because it is a developing culture and society where all the emphasis has been on literal survival, there is little sense of aesthetics in Cambodia society. Trash is thrown on the ground; paint is spilled on floors and not removed; etc. One especially obnoxious practicing is the affixing of advertising stickers to the front walls and doors of every property. Usually they advertising truck rentals or similar services. Young men come around and put them up regularly so that there are five or ten of the same sticker applied to one door or wall. Even worse, as seen in this picture, some advertisers spray paint their message onto the poles or walls or doors.


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8 May 2013

Sign for Prudential Insurance


For the past 2,500 years, Buddhism has been the safety net and the insurance provider for Cambodia. When something goes wrong, the people have turned to the wat and the monks have offered help. Last year the government initiated a social security system. It offers very limited benefits but all employers are required to pay into the system. Now a new development has arisen with the marketing of life insurance for Cambodian people. Some insurance has been available for the expatriates here but now Prudential is offering insurance to those who have enough money.




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22 April 2013

Phnom Penh alley


Phnom Penh is a relatively compact city area-wise and people are often surprised to hear that it has a population of a little more than a million people. If you look only at the building fronts along the streets, it is hard to imagine where the people are, but many, many blocks have little alleyways like this one that lead to much denser, smaller, cheaper housing inside the block, behind the street-front buildings.


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20 April 2013

2 Heavily loaded motorcycles





Motorcycle Loads #176

"I've got more on my motorcycle than you've got on your motorcycle!!"



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19 April 2013

Truckload of old bicycles


Little is thrown away in Cambodia, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that what is thrown away in Cambodia is generally recovered and recycled. The recycling here is probably much more efficient than in Western countries, at least according to the percentages recycled, although scavenging and recycling is extremely labor intensive. Here is a truckload of old bicycles being taken to some destination in Cambodia or Vietnam where they will be rebuilt.




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18 April 2013

Motorcycle accident


Today on the way home from work I came across a motorcycle accident at a main intersection. The accidents themselves are not that uncommon--an average of six people a day die in the traffic chaos here--but it was unusual in that one man was yelling at the other. More often in traffic accidents here there is little or no emotion displayed.




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11 April 2013

Trash in the streets


The municipal service voted as most efficient was the trash collection system in Phnom Penh, run by the Cintri company. And they do do a good job. There are still gaps in the service, though, as this intersection shows in the early light of morning.



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9 April 2013

A cage of rats


I was coming home from church after mass on Sunday when a motorcycle passed the tuk-tuk I was in. On the back of the moto was a cage full of rats. I barely had time to get my camera out and take a photo. I'm not at all sure what someone wants with a cage full of rats but I'm sure the trip to town doesn't bode well for the rats. They could have been destined for the cooking pot. Rural field rats are a not uncommon meat in the provinces.




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8 April 2013

Dismantling the king's memorials

King Sihanouk died in October of last year and was finally cremated in February of this year. Now workers are finally dismantling the memorial shrines erected in his honor. In politically sensitive situations like this, where the government doesn't want to offend anyone, the shrines are left up until there is a reason for taking them down, which in this case is the approach of the Khmer New Year next weekend when a death memorial could counteract the good spirit and cheer of the season.


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6 April 2013

Selling durian


Durian is a fruit made famous by its smell. In Hong Kong, the popular wisdom was that it "Tastes like heaven, smells like hell." Asian airlines have explicit guidelines prohibiting durian from being carried in the passenger compartment. These durians are on sale at a street stall in Phnom Penh. The red stripe spray-painted on each indicates the quality grade of the fruit.



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2 April 2013

A loaded motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #175

"Now if I just had a backpack, I could carry a few more...."





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25 March 2013

Horse statue

Most roadways in Cambodia are not marked with signs, road numbers, etc. And most of the people would not know the name of a street or road, even if it has one. Instead navigation and travel depends on landmarks. Many communities have a large statue, often in a roundabout, that identifies their locality. This horse statue is located near Kep in southern Cambodia.


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17 March 2013

Policeman extorting money

Bribery, corruption, and extortion are a part of the way of life here. It's routinely and openly practiced as seen here where a traffic policeman holds out his hand and a passing truck puts money in it. It's not bribery because the truck driver gets nothing for his money, except that he will not be hassled, stopped, and jailed. It's pure extortion.


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16 March 2013

Motorcycle loaded with grass



Motorcycle Loads #174

Probably some of you have been on an American hayride, a bunch of people piled onto a wagon loaded with hay and pulled by a tractor over hills and dales on a farm, usually at night. This might be a Cambodian, mini-version of a hayride.





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15 March 2013

Pile of trash in the streetA common early-morning sight in Phnom Penh is a pile of trash which has accumulated overnight in the street. There is a garbage collection service but there is no system of using trash cans so trash is put out in piles in intersections in plastic bags or whatever is handy. Here an old commode, a rattan screen, and regular kitchen garbage are all mixed together. The garbage truck will come by and the guys will dutifully throw all the bags into the back of the truck and then use a pitchfork and scraps of cardboard to clean up all the loose stuff still in the street.


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13 March 2013

Reading light in bathroomIn the thirteen years I have been in Cambodia, we have had plenty of power outages but here in Phnom Penh they were almost always during the day when they are more manageable. It was rare to have the power go off at night. Not any more. The past few months have seen the power going off every second or third day, usually about 6:30 or 7:30 PM when it's already fully dark. It's not fun. What can you do in the dark at night at that time? I have some old paschal candles and they give out a lot of light so I fire one up in the bathroom where the walls reflect some of the light and I try to read. Ugh... And this is only March! The rainy season doesn't start till May. Cambodia gets 60% of its power through hydro-electric generation systems.


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12 March 2013

Cold-weather clothing



 It IS winter now and so the gloves, fleece-lined jacket, scarf, and hoodie on these girls might seem appropriate--except that this is Cambodia and the temperature is in the high 90ºs and they're just trying to protect themselves from the sun so their skin won't get dark.





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11 March 2013

Forcing water into chickens

This afternoon I went again through a side street that I don't traverse very often and there was the same couple forcing water down the gullets of chickens as I had seen several months ago. They probably sell the chickens by weight and figure four or five bottles of water among the lot might get them a few thousand riel more.



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10 March 2013
Click here to view some of the trees flowering in Phnom Penh in "winter".

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9 March 2013

Banana boat





Motorcycle Loads #173

Cambodia's equivalent of a banana boat--the banana bike.





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7 March 2013
Click here to view pictures of one type of male motorcyclist footware.

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6 March 2013

Two heavily loaded motorcycles





Motorcycle Loads #172

Between them, these two motorcycle taxi drivers are carrying a LOT of stuff!





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5 March 2013

Huge private home


As is too often the case in undeveloped countries, there is a huge gap between the very small group of very rich people and the very large group of really poor people. The people with money don't mind at all showing it off, though. This is a private residence in the Tuol Kork area of Phnom Penh.




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2 March 2013

Selling coconuts

Although the culture is changing rapidly with more and more people drinking iced coffee and energy drinks and canned beverages, the largest part of the population prefers the staple coconuts available everywhere and throughout the year. They're heavy, they're difficult to open, but they're really good--and if you're hungry, you can lop the top off and also eat the coconut meat inside.


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1 March 2013

Sharpening choppers


Cambodia experiences urban migration from the countryside to the cities like many other countries of the world. Seeking to feed their families back home in the provinces, men especially make their way to the big city, often without many skills for an urban environment. Many workers eke out a living by sharpening the ubiquitous meat cleavers or choppers that are part of every Cambodia household. They walk the streets with a whetstone and a bucket of water, hoping to catch the eye of the housewife who needs her chopper sharpened.



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19 February 2013

Constructing Cambodia's first Burger King


Cambodia is moving into the big times! First it was Dairy Queen and then KFC brought its chicken to the Kingdom and now Burger King is constructing its first outlet at the Phnom Penh airport. International fast food outlets have been slow to open franchises in Cambodia because the country hasn't had the levels of disposable income necessary to support such businesses. Both Dairy Queen and Burger King opened their first outlets at the airport because it's people who fly who have the taste for fast food and then have the money to spend on such luxuries.



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18 February 2013

AC recharging outlets


Recently I went to a conference held in large tents in an open area. A large video screen was set up in front of the assembly with large flat-panel monitors set up alongside the rows of seats for those not near the big screen. That wouldn't have been possible just four or five years ago in Cambodia. Even more a sign of the times, though, was a recharging panel set up behind the stage so all the crew--and anyone else feeling depleted--could recharge their phones and other gadgets.



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12 February 2013
Click here to view pictures of one type of mannequin in Phnom Penh.

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8 February 2013

Loaded motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #171

"I just loaded a few things for an overnight stay...."





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25 January 2013

Putting air in a tire

Shortly after we started back across town after the 6:15 AM mass this morning, my motordupe driver pulled over to this "service station" and got air in his rear tire, paying 300 riel or about 8 cents. This photo can tell you a lot about Cambodian society: [1] the building on the left is a night club. We seem to get a new one every week or two. [2] Notice the bank of air conditioners on the wall. Central air con hasn't made its way to Cambodia. [3] Under a shed at the back of the building is a big green generator. The electricity goes off quite frequently. [4] The service station itself is a mainstay of the transportation system. They are located about every 1000 feet on the streets and they are quite busy with the flat tires, low air pressure, etc. The owners make a living a nickel or dime at a time.

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24 January 2013

Little boy on constructionsite


Many of the laborers and construction workers in Cambodia have no permanent homes. They live on the site of the buildings they are constructing--and they bring their families. This little boy, about four or five years old, is walking around the edge of a dropoff on the fourth floor of the building. Mom is at work somewhere on the site, having finished washing and hanging the clothes to dry probably before dawn.


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20 January 2013

Loaded motorcycle




 Motorcycle Loads #170

It's hard to see but there's a motorcycle under there somewhere!





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18 January 2013

Moto riders with jackets


 It's not unusual to see motorbike riders with jackets, especially women who are protecting their arms from the sun, even though the temperature is in the 90ºs. Last night we had a "cold wave," though, with the temperature going to the low 80ºs and maybe high 70ºs, and this morning many riders had on their heaviest coats and jackets.



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6 January 2013

Moto loaded with cucumbers




 Motorcycle Loads #169

"Sometimes I dream I'm a biker babe on Route 66 rather than hauling cucumbers in Phnom Penh...."





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