It is hard to keep old folks from making me feel guilty

kissingerThe older I get, the more religiously do I check out obituaries.  I doubt that I am not unlike many other of my contemporaries and folks who are much older than me.  Of particular interest to me is the causes of death.

But there is one aspect of obits of the elderly that gnaws at me.  It concerns particular phrases or sentences that I note all too frequently for my taste, especially regarding octogenarians and nonagenerians.  The phrasing tends to run something like this: Continue reading

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Two schools represent distinction with a big difference

IMG_5604The complex in the photo above was called S-21 by the Khmer Rouge.  Today it is known variously as the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields Museum of Cambodia.

The facility had been converted from a public high school to an incomprehensibly brutal prison in 1975-79, when up to 2 million Cambodians died.  Of the 14,000 ordinary citizens believed to have been incarcerated there, only seven survived the starvation, inhuman living conditions, torture and outright execution.

Toul Sleng is a 10-15-minute walk from my home, and I have occasion to pass by regularly.  It is wholly visible from the roof of my 15-story building.  Seeing it Continue reading

Bhutan is a destination worth adding to your bucket list

275Bhutan is everything wonderful you may have heard about the landlocked country that celebrates its “Gross National Happiness.”  It also is a bit less.  

What’s I mean by “less” relates to
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Grandmas, adolescents on motos common in Cambodia

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Older women driving a motorcycle or scooter — generically a “moto” — is a familiar sight in Cambodia.  This presumed family is in the thick of homeward-bound traffic, but “mom” and child wear no helmet as required by a much-ignored law.  Crossing the intersection behind them is a vendor with his wares.

In much of Southeast Asia, the streets are clotted with motos — motorcycles or scooters. Since they cost less than cars, the vehicles are the least expensive way to upgrade from traveling by foot or bicycle. They also are a major contributor to air pollution.

Because the two-wheelers are everywhere, foreigners quickly take their presence for granted and many expats adopt them for transportation.

You see drivers of every kind fearlessly navigating congested streets and, for the most part, skillfully dodging each other, bicyclists, pushcarts and SUVs. They speed (in relative terms) around obstacles, occasionally bump into each other and generally shrug at minor collisions. During the work day, traffic usually goes no faster than 20 miles per hour (33 km), but there are plenty of close calls.

Still,  Continue reading

If you think Pattaya is only about sleaze, think again

(Reposted because of its mysterious disappearance from my blog)

IMG_5383Many folks familiar with Southeast Asia perceive Pattaya as a city with a dirty beach on the Gulf of Thailand, streets lined with hookers, ready access to illegal drugs and frequent brushes with violence.

Yet such a broad brush overlooks and, I think, overstates Pattaya’s proximity to Bangkok (a two-hour, $3 bus ride from the capital city), and its plentiful positive aspects.  I have managed to sample only a few of them on two visits this year .

When I tried the ocean, Continue reading

Many Cambodians ignore pills for their headaches

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Many vendors sell coffee for a pittance along the streets of Phnom Penh, though there is hardly shortage of cafes.

If you live in the West, you probably pop a couple of Tylenol or Advil pills when you have an ache or pain.  For other pains, perhaps you might put a thermal patch on your back or a sore joint, or use ice to combat swelling.

That is not always the case here in Cambodia, as I recently learned after finally deciding to find out about the patches that I have observed occasionally on men, women and children here.

You probably are smarter than me and thus already have figured out the reason for the patches.  What they do is apply cooling gel on top of afflicted area.
Continue reading

The latest news in Cambodia is nothing but depressing

 

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After 24 years of excellent journalism, the Cambodia Daily writes -30- with today’s issue.

Happy Labor Day to readers in the U.S.  I wish there were happy news to report from here in Cambodia.  The latest news is anything but that. Continue reading