Let’s be honest; Cambodia isn’t the most literary country on the planet, and it’s rare to find genuine scholarly works on the country. As far as we are aware, there is no definitive encyclopedia on Cambodia and Cambodian culture. The UK has Encylopedia Britannica, the US has Websters, Collins, Pears…
As the western target market has become more aware, with only the really, really stupid and old folk with Alzheimer’s responding to African princes, new markets and opportunities are emerging where uneducated folk are given access to the internet without a crash course on who roams cyberspace looking to make a fraudulent buck or three. Word is slowly getting out, thanks to community phone in programmes on ABC Radio, but when I get asked whether a 6 headed naga caught in Kampong Cham going viral on Facebook is real, or if the Zika virus had been really been sprayed over Phnom Penh by Vietnamese agents, then it’s pretty safe to bet that safe internet safety steps are still in their infancy in Cambodia.
The flora and fauna of Cambodia has suffered a fair bit over the past few decades. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Pol Pot and his cronies fled to sanctuary in the vast swathes of forested mountains in the north and west and used the cover to…
Me and Strange Dave got bored one day in Battambang, bought a telescopic rod and some tackle, a bag of mealworms as bait and got permission to fish in a small pond where huge fish could be seen basking on the surface. After hours of chain smoking and drinking warm cans we had nada, not even a nibble, when along came the Khmer crocodile lady and scooped up a respectably dinner sized specimen with her hands. With her fucking hands!
Last year almost 75% of grade 12 students across the country failed their final exams after an anti-corruption drive, which was deemed rather unsporting, as every other grade 12 student in previous years had lied, bribed and cheated in order to pass with flying colours. Somebody must take the blame, and as usual shit always rolls downhill, from the MoEYaS, to the provincial education offices, to the school directors, to the teachers and perhaps the students themselves.
Out past the dusty roadside town of Chbar Morn, the provincial capital with a market and not much else going for it save Phnom Penh to the west and Sihanoukville port to the south-east, between the hills, sprouting rice crops and mango orchards overloaded with green fruit lives Mr Sambath, an aficionado of all things palm tree and member of the guild of neak leung tnout. He makes his living as a tapper.
Nowadays it seems as if every man, woman and his/her dog in the western world is ‘inked up’. The last couple of decades have seen an explosion of ‘body art’. Gone are the days when tattoo parlours were the domain of Maoris, pissed up sailors and those used to taking regular holidays in Her Majesty’s finest institutions. From sports stars to Hollywood A-Z listers and right down to sink hole estate trash, everyone has gone under the needle.
Fortune telling, prophecies and finding ways to influence fate form the backbone of Cambodian culture. Such things are intricately woven into ancestor worship, the spirit world and more orthodox ideas of Theravada Buddhist teachings. The above prophecy is known to pretty much every Khmer old enough to have heard it (go on, ask), and gets updated by each generation to ‘prove’ its authenticity.
Pedro Milladino takes a trip to Aeon Mall against his better judgement, and finds himself confronted by lies, lies and more damned lies.
Pedro Milladino moves back to the big city and finds his new neighbourhood of Phnom Penh Thmey is a place of contrasts, and a place where a new urban elite are using their riches to leave an indelible mark on the landscape.