Investment in construction surges against all odds

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Source: Phnom Penh Post

The biggest disincentive for investing in land and new construction in Phnom Penh ought to be, in my view, how much of it is taking place. I have written several times in this space about the swelling bubble that I believe I am witnessing.

The bubble notwithstanding, other reasons would seem to militate against considering a building project in Cambodia, and I’ll get to those factors in a minute.

It is my belief that the dimensions of the growing bubble are clear: Construction and real estate investments achieved 13.75 per cent more growth in the third quarter over the same time last year. The government puts the combined worth at $1.752 billion, an increase in value of $1.54 billion over the previous year.

That recently persistent growth somehow has occurred despite Continue reading

Those who believe in curses say they must afflict gym

The Place

My gym, which is situated in a prime location in a prime neighborhood of Phnom Penh.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then perhaps you remember the story of a trainer at my gym who was in serious condition after an accident on her motorbike.  I am happy to report that Poul is recovering nicely and eager to get back to work, perhaps in a couple of months, once she can start working out again herself.

Not so another trainer, the 35-year-old married father of two boys, whose name I’ll pretend for now is the common Socheat.

In a nation where much of the populace, even 30-year Prime Minister Hun Sen, is superstitious and believes in the power of curses, some Cambodians might well take seriously the notion of Continue reading

WSJ lists 7 things you may not know about expat life

Teaching is a job to which expats tend to gravitate. Source:

Teaching is a job to which expats tend to gravitate, but pay in Cambodia is low. Source:

The life of an expat may contain many surprises, the Wall Street Journal noted in an article not so long ago.

It turns out, according to a survey on which the article is based, that Ecuador provides the most happiness to expats and that Europe, unsurprisingly, offers the best education.

But would you imagine that Ireland falls behind Russia, Oman and Continue reading

Good news arrives about accident victim, mother of 3

Poul during better days.

Poul during better days.

If you happened to read my post last week, then perhaps you noticed that a woman who is a trainer at my gym was hurt in an accident only a few blocks from the facility on a major boulevard.  Her condition has improved somewhat, but that is hardly the end of her troubles.

Details are kind of sparse.  It seems she was riding her moto home from a night out early Sunday morning a week and a half ago.  Apparently, Poul pulled over and stopped when she noticed a car driving dangerously close to her.

I gather that the vehicle clipped her bike and tossed her onto the pavement.  Poul was not wearing a helmet, an oversight that technically is against a law and more often honored in the breach (especially passengers) and less often enforced with anything approaching determination.

The car Continue reading

In Cambodia, dealing with refugees remains hot issue

Sitting left to right, Brooke, Siphan, Coghlin, Tai.

Sitting left to right, Jim Brooke, Phay Siphan, Denise Coghlin, Billy Tai.

During a panel discussion last week, four individuals failed as expected to arrive at unanimous agreement about the world’s refugees in general and, in particular, the four who have arrived in Cambodia from Australia.

Former New York Times journalist, Jim Brooke, a friend who is editor of the year-old Khmer Times newspaper, stuck to the theme of a column in which he denigrated the men, women and children who braved the perils of crossing the high seas to enter Australia from distant shores.

Those souls have made it only to the independent nation of Nauru, where some 1,000 of them are held in a detention center run by Australia in what are described as deplorable conditions akin to a concentration camp’s.

Saying that Australia has the fifth highest per capital income in the world, Brooke characterized the migrants as Continue reading

Evil former Khmer Rouge official, 82, gets royal sendoff

The cremation of Cheat Sim occurred at the top of this structure.

The cremation of Cheat Sim occurred at the top of this structure, completed over two weeks.

Chea Sim was only president of the ruling party in Cambodia, yet he was remembered last week in a ceremony befitting a head of state following his death at 82.  The day of the funeral, June 19, was declared a national holiday; however, it was not strictly observed.

There were pomp, circumstance and elaborate decoration at his cremation in a park in the center of Phnom Penh.

Unfortunately, Continue reading

Because of construction, there goes my neighborhood

This villa, a block from my apartment, exemplifies what is being lost in my neighborhood.

This villa, a block from my apartment, exemplifies what is being lost in my neighborhood.

Demolition, renovation and new construction in my neighborhood of Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) is transforming an area that many expats favor into one that is becoming hard to recognize.

This former villa, which had become a restaurant, is across the street from the house in the top photo.

This former villa, which had become a restaurant, is across the street from the house in the top photo.  (Warning: Numerous images below.)

What is happening here at a dizzying pace merely reflects a situation in which property development in Phnom Penh has soared and, along with it, prices.

Investors in residential buildings in prime neighborhoods such as mine drove land prices up in the last half of 2014 alone by Continue reading