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Familiar Sights from Cambodia

CAMBODIA | Sunday, 1 July 2007 | Views [955]

We're enjoying our second pass through Phnom Penh.  We've chosen to stay near the riverside this time, and the city is a buzz with activity.  Ornate wats rise through the city, surrounded by parks and circled by monks clad in orange robes.  Groups of boys fill the parks playing football (soccer).  NGO workers populate cafes, discussing latest projects, energized by the impact they intend to have on this community.  The riverside promenade is alive with activity, vendors, hip teens donning tight jeans and t-shirts and all the latest western fashion, and couples strolling along.  The energy continues through the night, people enjoying the warm, outdoor lifestyle.  

The road to Phnom Penh is lush with green rice paddies for as far as we can see, blanketing the countryside.  Stilted houses tower among flooded fields.  Men take naps in hammocks under tall stilted houses, taking a break from the heavy manual work in the heat of the sun.  Women with conical white rice hats toil away in backbreaking fields of rice.  At bus stops, children swarm around us to sell duck eggs, crickets, skewered half-developed chicken fetuses still inside intact egg shells, fried bananas on a stick, freshly cut fruit and lotus buds.  Mobile food carts set up shop, cooking in the dirt, amongst piles of trash along the roadside.  Big blue political party signs speckle the roadsides in front lawns of homes, proudly displaying this country's democratic spirit:  Cambodian People's Party, Sam Ramsay, NRP, Fucinpec.  Whole families of 4-5 adults and children whiz by, all fitting on the seat of one motorbike - mass family transit.  Billboards in remote farming communities and sides of busses reinforce important messages to drive behavior change:  stop sex trade, stop domestic violence, stop poaching protected animals for parts.  Common attire for women- in the cities and the countryside are lightweight cotton patterned "pajamas."  Young school children in blue and white uniforms and oversized backpacks walk home from school with arms around each other.  Along country roads, fences are constructed six feet above the ground... erosion or flooding?  A stilted house has a front door but no stairs to reach the door, while a spirit house build centimeters from the ground has a stainless steel staircase leading to the entrance.  Wats are surrounded by spirit houses, displaying both Buddhism and Animism (worship of spirits).  Cambodian checkered scarves adorn necks, heads and are worn as sarongs.  Motorbikes race through streets, their drivers seeking a purified breathing experience wear fashionable, multicolored masks.  These are just some of the common sites that we see every day in Cambodia.

Tags: Sightseeing


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