One of the minor anomalies for me in Phnom Penh is the location of a bunch of small shops selling mussels and clams. They are located on the northern edge of the city, about as far away from the river as you can get, and I’m curious how they established that location for that product. These mussels pictured are rather big compared to the thumbnail-size ones that are sold from carts pushed around the streets. The small ones are a favorite snack of the locals. I’m not tempted by the mussels and clams, partly because they are generally eaten raw and partly because they come from the Mekong River and I don’t want to even put my foot in that much less eat something that lives in it. Phnom Penh is a city of more than a million people and has almost no sewage treatment. Guess where the raw sewage goes?
This is a really encouraging happening, a group of young people down on the Phnom Penh riverfront picking up trash. The littering landscape here is like it was in Kentucky in the 1940s and 50s. People then threw paper, bottles, cigarettes, etc., out the car window or just dropped trash on the street as they walked along. Then came the Don’t Be a Litterbug campaign. Change didn’t happen overnight but anyone throwing trash on a street in the US today knows it’s wrong. Most people don’t know that here so it’s heartening to see this group setting a good public example by picking up after others.
Sometimes people ask what priests do all day. They only see us in church and are curious what the rest of our week is like. Here I am today at the United Nations Development Program office in Phnom Penh for a meeting on the National Disability Strategy Program. I went there as a representative from the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme.
A couple months ago I posted a photo (not a very good photo) of a Phnom Penh tuk-tuk equipped with a solar panel and wondered what the panel was powering. Here is a birds-eye view of another tuk-tuk with another panel, a bigger one, so the idea is catching on. The question remains, though, what the solar power is directed to since lighting is an after-thought, a non-essential on vehicles in Cambodia. If you have lights front or rear, or both, that is fine. If you don’t have lights, that is fine, too. Notice that this tuk-tuk has a non-functioning light on its upper right.
In areas with a large informal economy, it is not unusual to find vendors with the same type of merchandise setting up for business right beside each other. People like it because they know where to go to find certain merchandise and they have a wider range of goods to choose from.
These are mobile pop-up shops selling clothing along Street 63 in the Boeung Keng Kang I area of Phnom Penh. They are set up alongside the wall surrounding a high school so there is no interference on that side of the street with local comings and goings.
Click here to see the variations in the mobile pop-up shop wagons.
Spirits are a big part of life in Cambodia and the basic stance is to keep them happy. First, you honor and respect the spirits of your ancestors and provide what they might need in the spirit world. Then you placate–or buy off–the less friendly spirits. Some spirits in this neighborhood are rather well taken care off: they have incense above and then a cake and glasses of maybe coffee and apple juice arranged for them.