Having reported on and attended in other capacities an incalculable number of parades, festivals, street fairs and similar special events, I have become rather jaded about them.
But the 2017 Thailand Tourist Festival — which this year apparently replaced a celebrations of the Lunar New Year in Bangkok’s Chinatown in tribute to the memory of the late king — blew me away. By changing the focus, the government felt able to respect the year-long mourning period since his death last fall.
The event in the city’s centrally situated Lumphini Park took place from last Wednesday through Sunday. It was a triumph of organization, diversions and civilized crowds of almost impenetrable size on the weekend, somewhat less thronged before then. I was there on three days.
The organizers had divided the space according to five of the country’s regions, plus a section devoted to China.
I very much enjoyed Continue reading
My mother and I at home a few years ago.
Where I spent most of my life, there was the concept of going home. That referred to where I went to bed at night.
Here, Cambodians usually mean the same thing.
Were I to head to my hometown, that would refer to the Boston, Massachusetts area, where I was born and lived the first 18 years of my life.
Here in Phnom Penh, “hometown” does not exactly exist as a concept. Instead, Cambodians will say in their language they are going to their homeland.
“Homeland” is freighted with far more significance than “home” or “hometown.” It has Continue reading
Up this forbidding staircase, Meta House, the German Cambodian Culture Center, offers a rich variety of discussions, films, entertainment and bar food daily.
At this oldest of three locations, the minuscule Flicks screens independent, foreign-language, popular and art films aimed at expats every day.
One of my neighbors moved here from Sweden to work. That he need to use a wheelchair in Cambodia, where there is little accommodation to individuals who cannot walk as well as able-bodied individuals, does not seem to faze him.
When I asked him about life in Phnom Penh for folks like him, he told me that he managed pretty well. Of course, managing means that he Continue reading
No one disputes what eyes, ears and noses have detected in recent years: The number of motor vehicles on the streets of Cambodia in general and of Phnom Penh in particular has swelled dramatically.
Residents (and, of course, virtually all tourists) don’t even think of walking here. For one thing, it is considered too dangerous. However, I suspect that most folks believe walking alongside, not on, sidewalks made impassable by parked conveyances is just too unpleasant. (I happen to like the exercise and thus put up with the disadvantages.)
As for taking a bicycle, Continue reading
The character of my Boeung Keng Kang I neighborhood has undergone a remarkable transformation in the three years ago this month that I moved to Phnom Penh.
In this photo from my roof, every high building looking east was built in the last two or three years, probably less. The grey one in the foreground was just completed. The crane in the background (right) atop an unseen tall building with a dramatic elliptical shape is some months from completion.
As I have written in the past, one reason is the explosion of fast-food restaurants in my neighborhood, which is popular with expats. The other reason is the breakneck speed of new construction, which is obliterating pleasant mid-century villas and the shade of trees that are recklessly cut down on every block.
Perhaps I could argue against the change, though that would be folly. Instead, what I can rant about is Continue reading
With this seemingly outdated map, Airbnb boasts of 2,000,000-plus listings worldwide. (Source: Airbnb)
7 easy steps that might save you money when using Airbnb
When I wanted to book an apartment via Airbnb for a forthcoming month-long visit to Bangkok recently, both the so-called host and I were mystified by a discrepancy between the price that was displayed in the listing and the higher price that he showed as the rate.
Including the company’s service fee, the listed total was significantly lower than the discounted price that he nicely offered me. Both of us tried to learn why from at least two inquiries that he made and email inquiries that I sent to Airbnb. Currency seems to be a major part of the solution to the mystery.
Only by clicking on the company’s “help” tab did I discover how important it would have been to Continue reading
Photo recently posted on Facebook is obviously whimsical, but it harbors a darker meaning.
Whether those who imbibe are rich or poor, excessive consumption of alcohol appears to be a widespread practice in the Kingdom of Wonder. The World Health Organization attributed 2,000 deaths and injuries to the drink last year.
Although the government of Cambodia has been drafting legislation since 2008 to discourage some drinking, enactment has yet to be achieved.
Incredibly, Continue reading