Corruption query is unfortunate sign of times in SE Asia

CorruptionNot only in Southeast Asia would someone write the following, as one administrator of a non-governmental organization (NGO) did on a Cambodia Web site dedicated to expats:

Unfortunately we experienced a case of corruption in our NGO. Our accountant asked service providers to slightly increase invoices in order to get the difference to the lower invoice as a personal commission. For the time being we suspense [sic] her in order to investigate the case.

The writer went on to ask for advice, which another member of the forum answered in detail. Someone else subsequently suggested that the discussion be taken private, and therein is revealed discomfort with the West’s intolerance for the extent of corruption in Cambodia. In reply, on the site of the Cambodia Parents Network (CPN), another writer objected to the need for privacy. Said he: Continue reading

Hike up Phnom Chisor is hot, strenuous and diverting


Our nearly daylong excursion was hardly a walk in the park. The stone steps on the way up to the speck at the top are high, uneven and often missing altogether.  They make for a challenging climb.

Although “Phnom” normally is translated as “mountain,” it is something of an exaggeration to term Phnom Chisor (also spelled “Chiso”) as other than “Chisor Hill.”

That said, the hike under the noonday sun up approximately 400 laterite steps to the temple at the peak last Sunday was a true challenge.  It left virtually all of our ragged band of more than two dozen hikers Continue reading

Sun-warmed cockles common on Phnom Penh’s streets


Cockles, salty or spiced, are available from mobile vendors throughout Phnom Penh.

Wherever I go in Phnom Penh, especially near teeming local food markets, I often come upon vendors pushing wooden carts with cockles spread on the flat beds.

Many of us undoubtedly have heard of cockles, but Continue reading

Police in Phnom Penh are paid like piece-workers


Motorcycles parked, police officers can only hope offenders will stop.  (Source: Khmer Times)

The traffic police officers here receive a salary, albeit a low one consistent with the paltry pay that the vast majority of Cambodians receives, if they are fortunate to have a job.

The police might be forgiven for thinking that the government pays them to work, so work they do when moved to stop slouching on the job in order to attempt an arrest of motorists who break the law.  Although their salary is just part of the job’s rewards, they paradoxically seem to be less than dedicated to pursuing offenders.

The police in Phnom Penh are notorious for Continue reading