Getting to the bottom of cultural habits can be quite a challenge. On my first journey to France [many years ago] I was confused at the ‘second toilet’ with a little tap on it. I had never heard of a bidet before and thought it was for washing feet. Many years later in Italy I had an emergency moment and had to use a public toilet. The one with no ceramic bowl where you have to squat down and be careful you don’t … well you get the idea. The thing is I am not very good at
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. Lao Tzu At 11pm we leave Phnom Penh on our 8 hour journey to Siem Reap. My plan is to get a good sleep, first thing in the morning check in to the hostel and then get out to see the famous Angkor Wat temples. It’s going to be great. It’s the first time I have used a sleeper bus. Appearances can be deceiving, on the outside it looks just like any normal coach but the inside is Christian Grey’s room of pain.
Angkor Wat is considered to be one the seven man made wonders of the world and as soon as you see it you can understand why. It is a collection of simply astonishing 1,000 year old temples. The problem arrives as soon as I arrive. In front of me is an incredible ancient temple and before I have a chance to step out the tuk tuk there are a dozen ‘sellers’. Scaff? a-dtay arkun. Trowsahs? a-dtay arkun. T shirt? a-dtay arkun. Hats, vests, drinks, food, books, pens, badges,
Every day, every single day, ten times every single day “you want tuk tuk”. Every street, every corner of every street a plethora of tuk tuk’s. A swarm, herd, cloud, chattering or whatever collective noun is for a group of tuk tuk drivers. If you want to get around Phnom Penh, this is one way to do it, cheap and comfortable, well sort of comfortable. Cut the passenger seat off of a motorbike, fix up a metal thing, attach a two wheeled carriage, with metal frame and two ben
Basically there is only one general road rule as a driver in Phnom Penh, if it is convenient for you to do it, then do it. This does not mean there are no traffic laws, there are, but no one cares. Lets start at the beginning. This is Asia, “face” is of vital importance. To avoid the risk of losing face by failing a driving test, the examiner (who is not well paid) may accept the offer of ‘a gift’ and be willing to pass the candidate. This is bad for other road users but
I am a teacher and one of my subjects is geography which I have to teach to adorable 12 year olds. They are absolutely fascinated to hear about cloud formations, the water cycle and how deserts form. We have just finished ‘the sea’ and part of their homework was to describe the “food chain”. Basically huge things, eat big things which eat small things which eat the smallest things. It occurred to me there is an equivalent to the ocean food chain in Phnom Penh, where I live
Advertising in Cambodia is a relatively simple concept. Make it big (size does matter) with lots of colours especially from the luminescent pallet, do they clash? Yes but who cares. Include gold and silver. Does it glitter? No, then add tinsel. Always include a disco ball. Rent a gazebo, steal a sound system from Green Day (let's face it, they won’t be needing it), hang bunting, balloons and 1000 lights, preferably flashing lights. Fire lasers at the disco ball. Hire f
At last the blossom are on the trees, the winter is past and spring is here beckoning a beautiful summer. The days are getting longer, the sun is shining and that is the problem. I have been living in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia for just over four months and my first observation is … it’s hot. Not just hot, it’s really really really … hot. By the time I have walked down four floors and 400m to the best school in the world then up five floors to my classroom I am so