Tum

The Documentation Centre of Cambodia has recently made some excellent and recent monographs on the Khmer Rouge period available for free download in *pdf format*. I was looking for two works on the fate of the Cham under the regime when I came …

chezfinch

Let me tell you how I met this guy. It was just last month. I remember the date – April 6th – because it was the same day I got evicted from the guest house where I had spent the previous six months slowly …

A while back when I was reclining on the loungers of a certain beach shack on Occheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville, I noticed that their rickety sign post had an array of large rusty nails sticking out at just the right height to scoop a passing five year child"s eyeball from its socket.

 

I thought about borrowing a hammer and taking care of this lapse in safety with a few strokes. I wondered why it hadn"t occurred to the owners of the place who have two children. Then I realised the children would just have to learn to be careful. And the children were careful! There were dangers and pitfalls all around.

 

The nails were merely one potential peril amongst many. I realised not so much that I liked the nails being there but that I liked the Cambodians disregard for them. Perverse? I just wish people would leave things be sometimes. There are few arguments for not wearing a helmet when on a motorbike except perhaps, "I want to take the risk and I would rather you kept your nose out of my business".

 

 Also maybe, "I like the feeling of the wind going through what is left of my hair". The logic behind safety is seen to be irrefutable and gives all sorts of meddling do-gooders carte blanche to tell us what to do and how we should behave. Personally I don"t like the world they have planned for me and would rather take my chances.

 

One reason I find Cambodia so refreshing is I live in a nanny state here in Britain.

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Although it doesn’t set out to be one, this book is probably the most thorough biography ever made of a top level Khmer Rouge cadre. Nic Dunlop first visited Cambodia as a student in 1989, a time when visitors per year numbered in tens …

old

Sunday was ‘meet the grandparents’ day. There can’t be very many Cambodians who have made it into their mid-80s, and here were two, with one tooth between them, constantly poking each other and winding each other up.

One is always tempted to ask any …

cintri

Having spent fourteen years involved in a community oriented recycling business, which, in fact, depended for it’s survival on a complimentary garbage service, I’m intimately familiar with the whole process.

That included several years of tossing garbage cans, stacking bundles of newspaper, crushing glass …

koast1

Lovely as ever, Kampot really is my favourite place in Cambodia. The landscape down there is lush and green and tropical and it is nice to escape the flatlands of Phnom Penh and its surrounds for the more geographically stimulating environs of this lovely …

Stilled_Lives

“Now I see the white ants ate it; this must mean it is the end of his story.” In this unforgiving tropical climate, with its pitiless cycles of heat and humidity, it is hard to imagine anything fragile lasting long, especially a photograph. While …

ring_01

It’s not uncommon for expatriates to consider marrying a Cambodian woman. Many such girls worked in bars; whilst there are sometimes complicated issues surrounding such relationships, they tend to be freer of taboos and traditional cultural norms (thus more like familiar western relationships) than …

newyear

Khmer New Year is one of those holidays when I prefer staying in town. In contrast to Water Festival which turns Phnom Penh’s everyday chaos into mayhem, at New Year it becomes a ghost town. Phew… what a relief… so quiet, peaceful, easy to …