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

Khmer Times unapologetically commits plagiarism

thumb_PC240023_1024There were numerous reasons that I declined to work at the Khmer Times on three occasions starting more than a year ago.

One was how much I have come to value my free time.

The other reasons were more complicated.  For one thing, I had a viscerally negative reaction to Continue reading

Hats off to exceptional international film festival

Opening night of the Cambodia International Film Festival. Source: CIFF/Vann Channarong

Opening night of the festival at Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Theater. Source: CIFF/Vann Channarong

The Sixth Annual Cambodian International Film Festival Is a Hit

Despite my expressed vow to avoid writing during the holidays, I was so captivated by the sixth annual Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) that I had to share with you my enthusiasm about the event, which was held in disparate Phnom Penh locations Dec. 4-10.

Not only was the festival organized with the precision of a three-star restaurant kitchen, but the quality of most of the films I caught was dazzling.

There reportedly were more than 130 from 34 countries in all, none costing more than $1 for admission, and I cannot explain why this was the first festival I’ve attended.  Only jet lag and ignorance of the screenings kept me from seeing more than the eight or nine (four in one day!) that I caught last week.

Cambodia International Film FestivalAngela Jolie Pitt, Continue reading

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: Khmer440.com

Teaching is a job to which expats tend to gravitate, but pay in Cambodia is low. Source: Khmer440.com

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