Woman, 23, gives voice to gender equality in Cambodia

Pichayada Promchertchoo chronicles the improbable influence that Catherine Harry has had on other Cambodian women in her article below.  With two of its images, the piece is published here with the permission of Channel NewsAsia, a regional news organization based in Singapore.

Anger is not always a bad thing, at least not for 23-year-old Cambodian Catherine Harry. Such emotion has led her to be featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia 2018, the magazine’s annual selection of young visionaries who tackle issues that matter in countries around the world.

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 Harris

Born bred in Cambodia, Ms Harry often gets angry about certain aspects of her culture. She finds several customs, social values and ideas that have shaped millions of lives in her homeland, oppressive towards women. In her eyes, many of them are victims of a patriarchal society, where women can be confined by what she views as outmoded conventions and biases.

Yet, Ms Harry knows Continue reading

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Rampant injustice can be almost too much to bear

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The unfortunate victim of extortion for a crime that he did not commit has been working at this pool.

The 18-year-old pool attendant at my gym is gawky, gangly and unusually skinny.  No taller than my chin, he has kind of a goofy smile that always accompanies his dependably friendly greeting when we run into each other at the facility.

His was only one of two recent incidents that are symptomatic of rampant injustice in Cambodia.

I got to know the young man — call him Chan — when his job was to clean the equipment on one of the gym’s floors I visit.  I since have seen him frequently when he stands outside the glass doors at the entrance of the pool, where he has been assigned for more than a year.

On March 13, Continue reading

Even in capital, pipes don’t deliver cooking gas

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No pipeline?  Cambodians have you covered.  They are the delivery system.

Phnom Penh is not fully developed, though a plenitude of high buildings new or under construction creates a different impression.

5 Aug - 3 (3)To get an idea of the reality, you need look no farther than the kitchens of restaurants and newly completed luxe kitchens in residences with virtually all the amenities found in the West. What you see in them is Continue reading

A barista’s struggle exemplifies Cambodia’s best hope

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Since I prefer to patronize local merchants in my neighborhood, not foreign franchises, the Starbucks flagship in Boeung Keng Kang I has won my affection reluctantly.  Here, the coffee can’t be beat.

A 20-year-old waiter at the Starbucks in my Phnom Penh neighborhood recently told me a bit about his life.  His story is much like that of the other employees who work there and in the myriad cafes around town.

A finance major with very good command of English, he starts his college classes at 7 a.m. They don’t end until Continue reading

Sun is a friend when Cambodians prepare some foods

1There are in various countries sun-dried raisins, sun-dried tomatoes and plenty of food that some of us don’t think of as having been dried in the sun; in fact, we may not give a thought to how it got that way.  Peppercorns are one among many examples that leap to mind.

In Cambodia, they dry food in the sun as well.  What is a bit disconcerting, however, is Continue reading

Things don’t always work out, but I remain optimistic

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The other passengers have just finished eating delicious food. I didn’t even start.

A brothel, a baboon and a bone-rattling drive have been some of the lowlights of travels you can read about in my previous posts.  In this one, you’ll discover how this scuba diver was led to water and left mostly high and dry.  After my trip to Bhutan, you’ll see how the drawbacks of climbing every mountain became clear to me and will be evident to you as well.

Last of 4 Parts

Travel insurance definitely would have eased the financial pain of one my most recent travel disasters, a scuba diving break.  Logistics forced me to take three airplanes each way from my home in Cambodia and spend two overnights at hotels in Indonesia both before and after.

Given that I parted with an unholy amount of cash for the five nights of diving from an exceptional liveaboard boat that cruised from the island of Flores, I conceivably should have considered that something could go wrong.

What went wrong, to put it mildly, was Continue reading

Airports often confound, and 2 in Moscow led us astray

In the previous post, you can see what happened to me in Morocco, France, Suriname and South Africa.  Below, my experiences were. . . different.  A rocky road, sex acts on a temple and an odyssey between two airports in Moscow make clear how travel to foreign countries inevitably delivers surprises.

Part 3

mt-everest-base-campOn a trip to Nepal in the late 80s, two of us thought it would be a good idea to hire a car and driver to visit Pokhara, the country’s second largest city 125 miles from Kathmandu.  After the Siddhartha Highway was completed in 1968, the city became a popular tourist destination.

According to Wikipedia, most of the tourists visiting Pokhara trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and Mustang.  A longish walk far short of a trek sounded like fun, though Continue reading