Phnom Penh street names sound strange to these ears

Except for the boulevards, few drivers

recognize street names anyway

rue 6Long-time residents who can navigate Phnom Penh’s miserable traffic with assurance often fail to remember the names of the streets that they travel.  (Farther down, more about names that bring me up short, and there is a pretty big hint above.)

By “long-time residents,” I include bicyclists and pedestrians as well as most of the numerous tuk-tuk operators and motodops who clog corners in search of passengers and then cruise our thoroughfares when they get lucky.

I frequently come upon tourists and transporters with heads together puzzling over laminated maps that seem to offer little help.  An address Continue reading

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Not in southern hemisphere, but one thing upside down

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The standard way to peel a mango and many other fruits and vegetables is top to bottom.

Happy Thanksgiving in the U.S.

You undoubtedly know that the seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres are opposite each other.  Probably, you learned in school that water swirls into sink drains in opposite directions.

(I confess that I once forgot that little weather detail when, years ago, I had to travel for work from Bangkok to Buenos Aires during an even longer trip.  That leg took 44 hours door to door, flying on four different jets and and landing in five airports, including Seattle and Miami with layovers so short that I didn’t have time to buy a decent cup of desperately desired coffee.  After my arrival in Argentina, the first thing I did was buy a bulky white sweater.)

At its most southern points, Cambodia is a little more than 10 degrees latitude north of the equator.  Yet apparently we are close enough to do at least one mundane thing in contrast to the way almost everyone seems to perform a routine task where I used to live.

The task is Continue reading

Visit to shop explains ease of making counterfeit clothes

innumerable plastic bags contain name-brand labels.

innumerable plastic bags contain name-brand labels.

Rare is the enlightened consumer in Cambodia who buys brand names expecting them to be of first quality or to be the designers’ true product.

Stacks upon stacks of labels abound in the shop.

Stacks of labels abound in the shop.

Whether toasters or t-shirts, the goods can be counted on to be fake. In the case of electronics and appliances (and, for that matter, pharmaceuticals), it can be hard to separate the counterfeit from the genuine, the factory supplied or the criminal contrived, seconds from firsts.

Consequently, those who can travel themselves, know international travelers or possess the means to have merchandise shipped in at a cost of approximately $50 per package (naturally depending on the size, weight and carrier) rely on sources outside Cambodia for peace of mind.

We simply don’t trust what we buy here, though Continue reading

Because of construction, there goes my neighborhood

This villa, a block from my apartment, exemplifies what is being lost in my neighborhood.

This villa, a block from my apartment, exemplifies what is being lost in my neighborhood.

Demolition, renovation and new construction in my neighborhood of Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) is transforming an area that many expats favor into one that is becoming hard to recognize.

This former villa, which had become a restaurant, is across the street from the house in the top photo.

This former villa, which had become a restaurant, is across the street from the house in the top photo.  (Warning: Numerous images below.)

What is happening here at a dizzying pace merely reflects a situation in which property development in Phnom Penh has soared and, along with it, prices.

Investors in residential buildings in prime neighborhoods such as mine drove land prices up in the last half of 2014 alone by Continue reading

Only minor dentistry should be trusted in Cambodia

That's mean and Ana.  We faked the photo when her work was completed, so she's not wearing gloves and I lack a bib.

That’s Ana and I.  We faked the photo when her work was completed, so she’s not wearing gloves and I lack a bib.  Incidentally, shorts and t-shirt are my usual attire and not only when the mercury soars.

The European Dental Clinic has a generally good reputation among expats in Phnom Penh, and it is conveniently close to home.  I’ve had nothing but good experiences there on my three visits, two of them for routine cleaning, in the last year or so.

Although the treatment of any serious dental issues such as root canals or tooth implants, like any serious medical ones, is ill-advised in this country, ordinary work can be achieved successfully.

There are many reasons to appreciate the clinic.   Continue reading