Sun-warmed cockles common on Phnom Penh’s streets

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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

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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

Students throng event promoting studies in U.S.

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High school students surround tables at which college and university recruiters tirelessly offered answers to their questions for up to five hours at an EducationUSA fair last week.

The enrollment of foreign students is an essential source of revenue for most colleges and universities in the U.S.  Having once been in charge of communications for a university, I can report that Asians long have been a lucrative source of tuition.

Thus it was that I attended a recruiting “fair” sponsored by EducationUSA at a fancy Phnom Penh hotel a week ago.  As the Web site notes, the organization — which charges educational institutions for their participation — is a product of the U.S. government, and a laudable one at that:

EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of over 400 international student advising centers in more than 170 countries. The network promotes U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States. EducationUSA also provides services to the U.S. higher education community to help institutional leaders meet their recruitment and campus internationalization goals. 

Given the level of enthusiasm and energy that I witnessed in the crowd of more than 1,000 students, most still in their school attire, I came away from the event Continue reading

Nervous drivers promote much waving of hands

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Just how helpful is this parking attendant may well be debatable, yet nervous drivers often are too skittish to park by themselves.  (By the way, isn’t “Colorblind” is an odd name for a clothing store?)

Many drivers in Cambodia are just plain bad.

With automobiles only slowly coming into vogue following the defeat of the Khmer Rouge early in 1979 together with widespread poverty, Cambodians came to cars gradually.  It shows.

I once stood for a full five minutes watching in disbelief as Continue reading

Thinking out of proverbial box could better Cambodia

You can be sure that participants in this protest against the ruling party a while back collectively represent unfathomable need.

Modern history has demonstrated that, indeed, there always is something new under the sun.

Under this nation’s punishing sun, perhaps some possibly new ideas could improve the lives of the heartbreakingly numerous Cambodians unable even to hope for a better life.

As I make my way around the country, various Continue reading

‘I can’t come to the phone now. Please leave a message.’

iphone6s-rsgld-frontWhen you call someone in Cambodia who doesn’t answer the phone, tough luck.

When you miss a call from a number you don’t recognize, tough luck again.

In the Kingdom of Wonder, I never have laid eyes on a phone that was not a mobile.  Perhaps some businesses have them, but cellphones here in Cambodia are as inescapable as cockroaches in a New York City tenement and barbells in a gym.

As for  Continue reading

This blog post was supposed to focus on graffiti alone

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  Spotless: Security guards, who usually double as parking assistants, ensure it.  They are everywhere.

One of the striking characteristics of Phnom Penh is the near absence of graffiti.  Strikingly stark walls undoubtedly tempt a mischievous segment of the population, yet an overwhelming proportion of those walls remains pristine.  The relatively few exceptions tend to be on fences surrounding construction.

How can there be so little defacement, I have mused, though to my credit, only briefly?

I have concluded that one reason has to be Continue reading