Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who needs rivers...?

Who needs rivers when we have roads like this?
Another Aussie who lives in another part of Asia recently commented that she thought the word for "field" in the local language should be the same as "lake". Well, you can see from these photos that "river"and "road" are quite alike at the moment!

We have seen people in our street with fishing nets!

The newspaper has something to say about "When Roads become rivers".
It can be annoying if you are in a hurry. But the other day I went out on my bike, with time to spare, wearing clothes that were already wet. I stood on the piles of gravel to take these photos.

I think the gravel is there because they are in the middle of building the road, which they have been doing since before I first came to Cambodia!

Last year I took some photos and wrote about what it was like to ride in water over unseen potholes- its that time of year again!

While I stood on the gravel I parked my bike on the road as you can see below......

...but then a truck went past and made a big wave.....

... and my bike fell over! Which i thought was kind of funny so I took a photo, but then I realised that all my stuff in the basket was floating away! I lost my water bottle but I caught my spare shoes.

Kids were out playing in the roads, using basins and big empty bottles as boats. In the background of the above photo you might be able to see this.

I guess sand bags didn't work for these people! And below you can see a line of people walking. This is a strange sight to see, usually people only travel by moto, but in this case the passengers had to get off and walk while the driver pushed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How do you say dog meat in English?

"So cow meat you call beef, and sheep meat you call mutton, pig meat you call pork- but what is the English word for dog meat?"

A friend in China asks me this (a few years ago). I guess we don't have a word as we don't really eat it ( although we don't have a different word for chicken meat either).

In Cambodia you can also buy dog meat. However- there are no dog farms, all the dog meat for sale comes from stray dogs or stolen pet dogs. (Find out more from other Cambodian blogs- "Warning for dogs" and "Lock up your dogs!" )

So that got me wondering- what about the dog meat in China. Where does that come from? Are there dog farms in China?

So I asked this questions in Yahoo! Answers- click here to read all the answers I got.

Monday, August 11, 2008


The other week we spent four nights away from home. Basically we drove around the huge lake that is in the middle of Cambodia. See map.

First we drove north to a town called Battembang. We stayed 2 nights, bought some famous Battembang oranges, then drove east to Siem Reap. After staying 2 nights and buying a particular dried fish product (see above) that is best bought in SR it was time to go back to Phnom Penh.
I enjoyed walking around these 2 towns. They some smooth footpaths, some even with trees for shade!
Walking is something I miss here in Phnom Penh. I don't mean hiking, I'm just talking about strolling along a footpath. The streets near us don't really have footpaths, and its always too dusty or muddy to be enjoyable. And there there is the lack of shade and abundance of motos zooming around.

This is what we saw in Bantemean Chay province as we drove between Swai sisophan and Siem Reap....
and this...

Above you see Battembang oranges for sale (yes, they are actually green- we also eat green tomatos, green mangos, green skinned bananas.) And below is the sight that greets you as you come into Battembang town from Phnom Penh.

Battembang and Siem Reap are both towns in provinces of the same name.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cambodian History books

Alongside language study I have been trying to study Cambodia in general. In the first half of 2008 I read some books about Cambodian history, here is list, some titles are clickable.

Cambodia: Report from a Stricken Nation, Henry Kamm, Arcade Publishing, 1998

Covers 1970-1998. Very readable and put together lots of different events that I didn’t know how they were related. Let me tell you about the first chapter and the afterword.

“Hope is for the unborn” (chpt 1) talks about the state Cambodia was in 10 years ago, when the book was written. It was in such a bad state that a UNICEF worker concluded there was no hope for the people who are here now, only for those who will be born in the future.

“How much can be expected from an education system that started from zero in 1979? After the Pol Pot years, in which schools were abolished, only three hundred Cambodians with a higher education were left in the country.” (pg 11)

“Cambodia today is also a ward of untreated psychiatric illnesses that have their principle origin in the four years of the genocide. Twelve psychiatrists practiced in Cambodia before 1975; none were left after the despots fall.” (pg 14”)

And in the afterword…

“Over the past century its (Cambodia’s) life has been grossly tampered with by many outsiders. By France…By Japan… By the United States…By China…By Vietnam…By the Soviet Union…” (pge 251)

“Cambodia looks mortally ill, and experience has shown that its own doctors are not up to the task of curing it. When a powerful Cambodian falls ill he goes abroad to be treated. I fear “abroad” would have to come to Cambodia to try to pull the stricken nation through. I see no other way but to place Cambodia’s people into caring and disinterested hands for one generation, administer it for its own sake, and gradually hand it back to a new generation of Cambodians , who will have matured with respect for their own people and are ready to take responsibility for them.” (pg 252)

A bleak diagnosis! I wonder what Kamm would say ten years on?

Christians and the Church in Cambodian History

The Tears of my Soul, by Sokreaksa S. Himm, Monarch Books, 2003
After the Heavy Rain, by Sokreasa S.Himm, Monarch Books, 2007

The author of these books lived through Pol Pot time. After crawling out from under his dead family members he managed to survive the rest and eventually made it to Canada. Recently he has shown his forgiveness to his family’s killers in very tangible ways (building a school).

From Phnom Penh to Paradise, by VarHong Ashe, Hodder and Stoughton, 1988

This is an autobiographical account of the Khmer Rouge time. This lady was a new Christian, living in Phnom Penh in 1975 when the city fell. She and her extended family are forced out of the city, along with everyone else. Its hard to imagine all the horrible things that happened to them are real.

Where blood flows the heart grows softer, by Jeanette Lockerbre, 197?

This book was written during Pol Pot time about the first half of the 1970’s when many Cambodians became Christians.

Killing Fields, Living Fields, by Don Cormack, Monarch Books, 1997

History of the church. Spans

Remember Cambodia

The 1990’s in Cambodia

Gecko Tails, by Carol Livingston, Phoeix, 1996

Written by a journalist who was here during United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). Writes about life, especially the political scene, in the early 1990s. I’m amazed that things were so different here such a short time ago.

Off the rails in Phnom Penh, Amit Gilboa, Asia Books, 1998

Written mostly about a particular group of ex-pats (“adventurers” and “misfits”) who lived in Cambodia in late 1990s. Includes the author’s experience of the coup in 1997.

Pol Pot Period

Movie: The Killings Fields

When Broken Glass Floats , by Chanrithy Him, W.W. Norton & Company, 2007

First they killed my father, byLoung Ung, Harper Collins, 2000

These two books are both written by Cambodian women who were about 5 and 9 years old when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge. They tell us about their families being forced out of the city, and the years that followed of hunger and fear and death.

Year Zero, Francois Ponchaud, 1977

A short history of Cambodia, by Francois Ponchaud , 2007

Hun Sen, Strongman of Cambodia, by Mehta, Graham Brash, 1999
Sihanouk, Prince of Light Prince of Darkness, Milton Osbourne, Silkworm Books, 1994