Outstanding book chronicles the fight against HIV/AIDS

France bookA critically acclaimed 640-page book by David France belongs at the top of your reading list.

An acquaintance of mine years ago, France has created in How to Survive a Plague a vivid review of the battle to understand the pandemic, fight U.S. government indifference, create a unified activist front, overcome bureaucratic chaos and ultimately learn how to treat AIDS.

The author’s exhaustive review seems to have him everywhere all the time from the first diagnosis to essentially the latest pharmaceutical successes.  In doing so, he spares nothing about his personal life, confessing how deeply he felt about the witness he bore and the relationships he treasured.

His Amazon bio outlines a distinguished career prior to having written this tour de force, noting Continue reading

Facebook spurs youth involvement in political process

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Rapt audience approaches 100 individuals at Saturday’s event aimed at younger Cambodians.

At the start of an event at a local university last Saturday, the audience was warned against publishing comments by the speakers without their permission.

“We want people to feel comfortable to share their ideas,” the moderator explained.

Such is a measure of the fear that grips Cambodia’s populace in the wake of occasional arrests on trumped-up charges for online criticism of the government.  Also of concern is the violent restraint of street protests in the last few years, though not of late.

While maintaining that young people — that is, the small minority of college and university students in the country — “are aware of their security risk” for speaking out, one presenter allowed that Continue reading

Young Cambodians swarm 4-month-old night market

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The main parking area. Vehicles jam the intersection outside one corner as they jockey for a space.

Night markets are an enduring feature of countries in Asia.  The one in Phnom Penh’s Riverside neighborhood leaves me cold, but I remember being enamored of the first one I visited.  It was in Hong Kong in the mid 90s.

Well, there’s a new night market in Phnom Penh across from a distant corner of the Russian Embassy and virtually within sight of the modern Aeon mall.  As I walked there Saturday night for a look, a steady streams of motos doubtless had no other destination in that direction. Indeed, I discovered that is where they were going.

When I threaded my way through one of the parking areas to what is dubbed Jet’s Container market, Continue reading

Month in Bangkok drives a decision on moving there

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Somewhat dated and romanticized view of “downtown” Phnom Penh with Central (or, in Khmer, “New”) Market in foreground. Source: Cambodia Hotels and Travel Guide

Part 2 of 2

In the first of two parts regarding whether moving to Bangkok from Phnom Penh was a good idea, I listed a number of pluses.

If you read Part 1, it will not surprise you to learn that Continue reading

Bangkok would be a mixed blessing for this expat

Flower delivery for Lunar New Year in Bangkok

Part 1 of 2

After three and a half years living Phnom Penh, I have developed itchy feet, a symptom of which is my increasingly frequent travel to other countries.

One country I have visited several times over the years is Thailand, next door, and I have much appreciated the contrasts between Bangkok’s, size, food and diversions to Phnom Penh’s.  Smaller cities in Thailand have their winning characteristics, but I don’t find that they enjoy the same vitality or energy for me as the capital while they certainly provide significantly more opportunities for all that nature offers.

I have been wondering whether we should make our home there.  We still own almost nothing more than can fit in two large suitcases each, so it is no problem in that respect to pick up and go.

But does it make sense?

To approach a decision, Continue reading

Why do many posts here seem to center on one topic?

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National Bank of Cambodia in Battambang

The most charitable reaction I can attribute to someone’s recent comment to me is that I was taken aback.  Somehow, it seemed like a criticism, and whose skin is thinner than mine?

What that acquaintance said is my blog seems to center on money.  “It does,” I thought?  How can that be?”  Then I thought again.

Perhaps Continue reading

Reason foreigners cannot own ground floor: Naïveté

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Visitors evinced keen interest in new developments at the Cambodia Real Estate Show.

Foreigners in Cambodia are barred from owning the ground floor of any building in the Kingdom of Wonder.

I finally found out the origins of the prohibition early this month when I attended one of 16 presentations at the Cambodia Real Estate Show, a well organized two-day event that attracted numerous potential developers along with buyers of luxury apartments and buildings.  (Hey, you can take the broker out of real estate, but you can’t take real estate. . .)

It was not until 1989 and then in 2001 that government decrees defined the possession and subsequently, in 2001, full ownership rights of residential property.

Like most other countries in the region, Cambodia does not want foreigners to own a piece of the nation, no matter how small, as codified in Article 8 of the Land Law.

According to presenter Matthew Rendall — a lawyer who holds a Cambodian passport and is managing partner at SokSiphana & Associates in Phnom Penh — the stricture resulted from Continue reading