Daily Life in Cambodia  2015


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21 April 2015

Overloading a motorcycle




Motorcycle Loads #215

Don't forget, that driver still has to get on the motorcycle, too!




19 April 2015

Today (Sunday) is the last day of the extended Khmer New Year holiday period. Everyone is expected back to work tomorrow. Some people, to beat the rush, started finding their way back on Friday and Saturday, but an awful lot of people waited until today to return to Phnom Penh. Vans like this one, heavily overloaded, have been pouring into the city. It is NOT a comfortable way to travel but there aren't other options so.... Overloaded passenger van
In addition to the sheer discomfort of riding in a jammed van--and the danger of it--insult is added to injury by the local police on duty at the major intersections where the vans must enter the city to extort money from the drivers. This policeman just got a handful of money from this van driver. The traffic blocked the actual handoff when I tried to get the picture. Police extorting money

17 April 2015

Overloaded vanThe three-day celebration of the Khmer New Year ended yesterday. Supposedly today was back-to-work-day but don't bet that many people worked today. Most will drag into town over the weekend and start appearing at their work places on Monday. But here is one more photo from the new year goings-on. This is a van full of people escaping the city for celebrations with relatives in the provinces. So many people are killed and injured each holiday period as they travel in ways both uncomfortable and extremely dangerous.


2 April 2015

Sun protection




The temperature was in the high 90ºs today but look how these two young women are bundled up. It's not to keep warm--although they definitely have to be warm--but for protection against the sun. They're afraid it will make their skin darker.





15 March 2015





Motorcycle Loads #214

It looks like he needs to hold on to more than his hat!





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13 March 2015




Motorcycle Loads #213

This is an early morning load of vegetables going from a wholesaler to some local market on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Note the bag of vegetables dragging on the street below the muffler. They should be well peeled by the time they arrive.



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4 March 2015

You may think you have a difficult time when your highways are under construction in other parts of the world, but in Cambodia there are extra headaches. There are probably few--if any--trained traffic engineers and nobody wants to go to the extra expense of providing detours around construction sites, etc., so drivers are forced to go through them with no guidance, signage, safety barriers--anything. Note at the toll gate how there is an eight-inch drop between the concrete driveway of the gate and the road leading up to it. That's perfectly acceptable here.

3 March 2015

School parking areaThis is the parking area of the unfelicitously named CIA School. The name actually is an abbreviation for the Cambodia International Academy, and it trains young students rather than spooks. This sign is a bit unclear. First, it is on the public sidewalk, not a parking lot; but then this is Cambodia, and no one should--or can--walk on sidewalks. That's where people park. Which brings us to "permanent parking". It could mean cars are left there forever--although none are there yet--but I suspect it really means it's an actual parking area rather than a drop-off area.


2 March 2015

Bicycle vendor with chickens




Motorcycle Loads #212

OK, this isn't a huge load on a motorcycle but it's a load indicative of the non-formal economy of Cambodia. This man rides around with pieces of fresh meat in his bicycle basket and a couple plucked chickens hanging off the back. You need a chicken, he's right at your door.




27 February 2015





Motorcycle Loads #211

If he had a bigger basket, he could carry two of them!





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26 February 2015

Selling bread in early morning



This lady has lots of bread on offer early in the morning as the sun comes up. French bread is maybe the last legacy of the French colonization of Cambodia, an unlikely remnant in a culture that doesn't produce or eat bread. Big baskets of bread are on sale all over, some of it wrapped in plastic for the finicky foreigners who like it clean.



11 February 2015

Selling shoes on the street



Neighborhoods change in Phnom Penh just like in other cities. Small open shops turn into enclosed, air-conditioned stores. Neighborhoods become known for one product or another. In the last year or so, many street-side shoe vendors have moved into the area around the Deaf Development Programme office. Here is one shop owner with part of his stock of merchandise out for display on the sidewalk.




8 February 2015

Loading an intercity van





"Don't worry. We'll get it all in.... There's plenty of room!"






7 February 2015

Girl with a load on a motorcycle





Motorcycle Loads #210

This load may be light but you can be sure it creates a lot of wind resistance as the driver picks up speed.





6 February 2015

Early morning in a market




If you don't like Walmart, try an early-morning open air market like this one in Phnom Penh, going strong at 6:30 AM.




4 February 2015

Traffic chaos at intersection


Incompetence #3
Once the traffic negotiated switching back and forth from southbound lanes to northbound lanes and got got back to where there was some pavement, they encountered an interesection with no automated traffic control. As you can see, there are vehicles going every possible direction in the mess.



Taxi driver directing traffic


Incompetence #4
A traffic policeman appeared in the intersection but that poor group of police seems to have no training in directing traffic and no native ability to figure out what to do. At this mess of an intersection, a motorcycle taxi driver (red arrow) got off his moto and parked it, and then started directing traffic, efficiently, right in front of the policeman who just watched. Incredible.





3 February 2015

Traffic chaos in Phnom Penh


Incompetence #2
Yesterday's photo, taken from the northbound lane, showed the cars going illegally against the southbound traffic flow. This picture is from the other side of the street, from the southbound lanes, showing what it looks like with the illegal northbound traffic coming against us taking half the roadway.





2 February 2015

Traffic chaos in Phnom Penh

Incompetence #1
When it comes to moving on the roads of Cambodia and of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian people are a long-suffering lot. It is incredible how incompetent are the people in charge of things like road construction and repair, directing traffic, etc. This is a picture of a major thoroughfare in Phnom Penh—a toll road--that is under construction--and has been under construction, with no visible progress, for months and months. Here the right, northbound lanes are under construction. A central new lane of concrete has been laid but that was long ago. No provisions were made for rerouting traffic so some northbound vehicles drive in the dirt and gravel (right side of picture) that was prepared as a base for a future lane even though there is no access to this dirt lane and the cars and motorcycles make a 12-inch drop to get to it. Every time I go there, there are cars with their frames hung on the concrete after they started off on the new lane and then dropped over the edge to the dirt. Other northbound cars simply take over the right lane of the southbound two lanes on the left of the picture. All the cars there are driving against the legal southbound traffic. It's crazy--and the Cambodian people just look ahead, say nothing, and endure it.


30 January 2015


Inside a tire shop





This is just a glimpse inside a Phnom Penh tire shop.






26 January 2015

Folder for documents


Today I attended a signing ceremony where representatives from a government ministry signed documents to take responsibility for what has been an NGO project. That was not too unusual but I was a bit surprised--in this day of all sorts of plastic folders--to see a government personage collect all the signed documents and then tie them up in this definitely non-plastic document carrier.


23 January 2015 

Eggs in a basket





Motorcycle Loads #209

This man has almost all his eggs in one basket--and on the back of a motorcycle to boot!





10 January 2015

Selling watermelons on the street

Fruits are growing all year round in Cambodia, and some—like bananas—are available all year round. Others, like these watermelons, only ripen at a specific time of the year and so their appearance helps to mark the passing of the seasons when there are few other indicators like changes of temperature or changes in the leaves.



5 January 2015

Selling lotus blossoms near the palace

Each month Buddhists celebrate at least one day of religious observance. It follows the lunar calendar but it is also noticeable because many vendors are on the streets on the special days to sell flowers, especially lotus blooms, to be used in the ceremonies. Here several women take positions on the street near the royal palace to sell the flowers.


4 January 2015

Selling gas on the street

The price of gasoline is dropping in Cambodia like it is in North America. This little gas "station" is selling—in soft drink and water bottles--probably smuggled gasoline from Vietnam and so they can undercut the formal gas stations. But now even the street vendors are seeing the prices dip. Not long ago the price would have been between 5000 and 5500 riel a liter. One US dollar equals 4000 riel.


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