Many hotels, airlines won’t allow this fruit’s presence

durian photo: durian durian.jpgThe odor that durian (“turen” in Cambodia) is intense, inescapable.  You can smell the fruit down the street from anywhere it is being sold.

Most folks find it offensive, even nauseating.  Until recently, I was one of those individuals.

However, hearing so many Cambodians rhapsodize over its quality as the local turen season approached its peak a couple of weeks ago, I resolved to appreciate its appeal.
Now I do.

My first attempt at tasting the thing Continue reading

It seems there are only two kinds of dogs in Cambodia

One of two kinds of dogs I see in Phnom Penh.

One of two kinds of dogs I see in Phnom Penh.

As I make my way around Phnom Penh, I regularly come across pet dogs.

They seem to fall into two categories, and I am shamelessly generalizing.  One is big and fierce-looking German Shepherds.  The elite use them as guard dogs for extravagant villas, and those animals never run loose.

The second category consists of what seem like Continue reading

I keep learning it’s a good idea to question everything

Stringing cable looks like a freelance procedure.

Stringing cable looks like a freelance procedure.  You should have seen them flinging spiraled wires over obstacles such as other wires as the mercury climbed into the 90s.

One of my biggest complaints about the apartment we rent was my reliance on the building’s slow Internet service, which costs $50 a month for shared WiFi.  Downloading videos of any length has been basically impossible, never mind privacy.

I am embarrassed to say I learned only lately through a casual conversation with a new tenant that it is possible to bring in another service.  Eureka!  It never occurred to me to ask.

Paid in advance, the price for Mega’s product is expensive by U.S. standards, Continue reading

Thailand’s martial law proves to be barely evident

On a day of announced protests last Sunday, police and soldiers mostly just hung around.

On a day of announced protests last Sunday, police and soldiers mostly just hung around a busy intersection that is flanked by high-end malls.

It was only on the day after our arrival in Thailand that we saw any soldiers — four of them routinely directing normally busy traffic.  No one paid attention to them, and they were as casual and seemingly bored as supermarket cashiers.

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Click to see seated soldier’s smile.

On Sunday, our fifth and final day in Bangkok, however, the announcement of protests scheduled for busy intersections and upscale malls, a few of which were closed, resulted in a show of force.  By closing two Skytrain stations and gathering at intersections, the authorities kept protests to a minimum and hardly inconvenienced tourists, except those hoping to browse the shuttered malls.

I remember reading about a single arrest, for someone using two fingers in a peace sign as her presumed symbol of objection to the military coup. (I may have missed a couple of others.)

Certainly, Continue reading