Surprisingly, New York City is loosening its grip on me

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The Oculus, imposing portion of New York’s transit hub cum shopping mall that I photographed near One World Trade Center (also called Freedom Tower) in downtown Manhattan.

Thirty-five years.

That is how long I had made my home in New York City — only in Manhattan, from Washington Heights to Greenwich Village — in two long periods before moving to Phnom Penh toward the end of 2013.

How I loved New York over any other place I had lived such as Boston, San Francisco, Hartford and the Washington, D.C. area, where I went in my relative youth to work in the Pentagon and again, in 1995.  At that time, I worked in the U.S. Treasury Department before heading back to Manhattan in 2006 after having transitioned to real estate sales.

To my mind, Manhattan’s highlights run the gamut of the many clichés that you know as well as I do — energy, diversity, cultural opportunities, Central Park and, among so many other attributes, paradise for a food lover.
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Even in capital, pipes don’t deliver cooking gas

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No pipeline?  Cambodians have you covered.  They are the delivery system.

Phnom Penh is not fully developed, though a plenitude of high buildings new or under construction creates a different impression.

5 Aug - 3 (3)To get an idea of the reality, you need look no farther than the kitchens of restaurants and newly completed luxe kitchens in residences with virtually all the amenities found in the West. What you see in them is Continue reading

Sun is a friend when Cambodians prepare some foods

1There are in various countries sun-dried raisins, sun-dried tomatoes and plenty of food that some of us don’t think of as having been dried in the sun; in fact, we may not give a thought to how it got that way.  Peppercorns are one among many examples that leap to mind.

In Cambodia, they dry food in the sun as well.  What is a bit disconcerting, however, is Continue reading

When dining al fresco, Cambodians may sit like children

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Your first encounter with streetside dining in Cambodia may well produce a smile and a puzzled expression. It did mine.

You’ll see grown men and women Continue reading

Two schools represent distinction with a big difference

IMG_5604The complex in the photo above was called S-21 by the Khmer Rouge.  Today it is known variously as the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields Museum of Cambodia.

The facility had been converted from a public high school to an incomprehensibly brutal prison in 1975-79, when up to 2 million Cambodians died.  Of the 14,000 ordinary citizens believed to have been incarcerated there, only seven survived the starvation, inhuman living conditions, torture and outright execution.

Toul Sleng is a 10-15-minute walk from my home, and I have occasion to pass by regularly.  It is wholly visible from the roof of my 15-story building.  Seeing it Continue reading

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

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