These have not been good times for many journalists

That's me holding the last "F" and Rick Valenzuela of the Phnom Penh Post and Overseas Press Club holding the "R," third from right.

That’s me holding the last “F” and Rick Valenzuela of the Phnom Penh Post and Overseas Press Club holding the “R,” third from right. He organized the event.

While there has been plenty of news to cover globally, the bad news is that many journalists are having a bad time of it. Injustices and abuses abound.

All over the world, there have been incidents of journalists being muzzled, harassed, imprisoned, wounded and killed.  And all they try to do is a good job, reporting what happens in conditions that can be overwhelmingly challenging.

Of course, there are elements across the globe Continue reading

Construction din around our rental is driving me crazy

View from our living room of the construction hell below.

View from our living room of the construction hell below.

As I draft this post, I am being assaulted by the demolition sounds on the floor above our apartment and by the extraordinary amount of construction in the surrounding blocks.

We live in the desirable neighborhood of Bueng Keng Kang 1, where many expats prefer to live and dine, though there are more expensive parts of Phnom Penh that also are popular.  Even with rents rocketing up, the amount of new construction here astonishes me.

I count Continue reading

India event lures me to Buddhist activity once again

Intricate sand mandala created in exquisite detail at the even.  It is described as, a cosmic diagram that represents the dwelling place of a deity.

Intricate sand mandala created in exquisite detail at the event. It is described in Asia Life magazine as a “cosmic diagram that represents the dwelling place of a deity.”

It hardly has been my intention to keep writing about Buddhism (or to post so frequently), though an overwhelming proportion of Cambodia’s population practices it and Buddhism is the state religion.

But we coincidentally more or less stumbled upon our second event in three days that focused on Buddha.  I include it here mainly because of the photos.   Continue reading

Visit to Buddhist site proves to be a mixed blessing

Vendors flank route toward the top of the "mountain," more than a-500 stair climb away.

Vendors flank path toward the top of the “mountain,” more than a-500 stair climb away.

My Cambodian family, as I now think of them, called early Friday morning to suggest a trip to Oudong “mountain,” a 38-km (23.6-mile) drive from the center of Phnom Penh.

The drive Continue reading

It turns out that we are not all in the same boat

This woman makes a point of not looking at me -- or her husband.

This woman makes a point of not looking at me — or her husband — at Brown coffee house.

On the long list of my misapprehensions about moving to Cambodia was the belief that all expats perceived each other as being in the same club.

Walking down the street, sharing a table at the coffee house or encountering each other in a restaurant, I assumed there was a common connection that would produce at minimum a nod or smile of recognition. Silly me.

Unfriendly man

One unfriendly face. . .

Although it is true that Continue reading

In teeming market, little girl is sign of the times

Sign of times

Battling my way through Phsar Thmey (Central Market, or literally New Market) in Phnom Penh last week, the little girl in the photo above stopped me in my tracks.

Although it seems as though she is responding to someone’s bid for attention, it is merely a young girl’s curiosity at work.

She is perched on the edge of a restaurant stall, one of many in that part of the market, where her mother was busily at work while resorting to the sort of distraction that parents around the world use to occupy the young.

Below is Continue reading

Chinese New Year is taken quite seriously in Cambodia

Taking care of our ancestors are, from left, our new friend Barbara, the family's youngest, Mai, and me.

Honoring our ancestors are, from left, our new Canadian friend Barbara (whose husband was traveling for work), 17-year-old Mai (the family’s youngest) and me.

On the sidewalks outside stores and schools, in front of homes and in private settings, Cambodians of Chinese extraction paid tribute to their ancestors Thursday on the eve of the Chinese New Year.

Fires burned in small containers, and the pretty unpleasant odor of paper being consumed was inescapable in Phnom Penh.  To ensure that their dead parents, grandparents and all those who came before have wealth in the afterlife, they prayed and dropped wads of fake cash into the flames.

It is a touching ceremony that speaks to a strong Buddhist tradition here and a Chinese heritage that a friend estimates at 70 percent of the population, though I have no confidence in that number and am certain it varies from the cities to the farms.

To me, the difference is striking Continue reading