Exercising or eating, Cambodians throng parks nightly

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Players use various smaller or professional-looking footballs. Most of their goals lack nets, which can be as informal as a couple of sandals or the jerry-built one in the photo above.  

They are a hive of a disparate activities, two adjacent parks close to the center of Phnom Penh.

Divided from each other by a busy avenue, the L-shaped expanses near Wat Botum and Independence Monument in Phnom Penh comprise more pavement than greenery and escape neither the din nor sight of traffic.

Weekend evenings are naturally the most popular. Yet they attract Cambodians of many stripes every night, though I sense none from the small class of elites.

Those who do frequent the parks seem variously to be students and office workers, proud lesbians, gays and transgenders, kids and their parents, beggars and monks.  Many purposefully stride the length of the area with Independence Monument at one end to get or keep in shape.

They may be  Continue reading

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Buy or rent with great views, then see them get blocked

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Adjacent buildings in Boeung Keng Kang 1 area of Phnom Penh.  Pity the owners in building at right.

It has been years since I blogged about lot-line windows in New York City.  Risk-takers or ignoramuses pay them no heed at their peril.  In Cambodia, however, it may make no difference to worry about them.

The windows in New York are in buildings constructed up to the limits of the lot they occupy, often for decades.  By law, the windows have chicken wire embedded in them so as to be recognizable as potentially obstructed.

It behooves Continue reading

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