Beauty in an Unexepected Street

 Stone Buddas

I discovered the other day street 178 goes all the way from Monivong Boulevard (a very major road near where I live) to Sisowath Quay (the water front area) in a straight line with no interruptions for temples palaces or museums. So I hopped on my bike tonight and headed down to a cafe near the waterfront. (For those watching the photos, the Royal Palace is opposite the waterfront

I stopped outside a house – actually 4 houses – that had stone buddas on display outside: (too heavy to steal.) The adult daughter of the business owner –NIN- spoke quite good English and told me they are all hand carved using granite or marble. This is truly astounding, and I guess the father has devoted his life to it. She told me I could come back and take some photos if I wanted to.

She also explained something that’s puzzled me about Cambodian addresses. Many of them have Eo after the house number for no apparent reason. Some authority somewhere can designate houses  being 42A, 42B, 42C 42D, 42E etc. The small o refers to the fact that the addressee lives on the ground floor.

The man next door to NIN’s house had gotten his house  numbered 42.8, since 2 4 and 8 are lucky numbers

I will have to look more closely: I’ve seen  many Es but not many A B C or Ds. In the meantime photos of Buddhas will follow in a day or two.

If you’ve read my other posts about the migrating garbage piles , the street kid recyclers who work the rubbish tips at night etc., it is reminiscent of a Leonard Cohen Lyric about “she shows you where to look among the seaweed and the flowers.

If you want a map of Phnom pehn click here

Monivong is the north-south road  to the left of centre and 178 goes left right just above the national museum.

Photos to follow.

Pchum Ben Festival

Countryside outside Phnom Pehn, snapped on a Hash House Harriers run

We’ve just had a three a holiday here – Pchum ben –  on  Thursday Friday and Saturday – where the Cambodians go back to their villages and pray for their ancestors. A lot of Phnom Penh was empty: or emptier than I’ve seen it since I’ve been here. People get together, visit pagodas and pray for their ancestors. Some pray for people who died without decedents and therefore don’t have anyone to pray for them. I went and looked at some pagodas. Nice architecture. During this I lost a credit card (it was eaten by an ATM) and broke a tooth, needing root canal treatment. Fortunately I could get a dentist to look at it on Saturday and do the root canal work on Monday. The rest will be done over the next few days.

Kids playing on Sisowath Quay opposite Royal Palace

I was short of cash when the credit card ate my machine so I had to get someone in Australia to send me some money via Western Union, and try to get some “wired” (don’t you love that expression?) to my Cambodian account by my bank in Australia.

The rainy season hit last night. It started bucketing down late into the afternoon with a vengeance. Very soon the streets were flooded and the drainage system couldn’t cope. Instead of riding my bicycle to uni, I took a tuktuk. The tuktuk driver got lost, the motorbike stalled and I had to walk the last few blocks on my own. When I got there none of the students had turned up (because of the rain, I guess.) They sell these little plastic raincoats for 50 cents here. I had a purple one over the top of a blue one.  If you saw it in the movie it would have been funny.

Elephant statue on the Park South of the Royal Palalce

Today the skies seem clear. 


Unconscious on one of Phnom Penh’s Major Roads

4 October.

I was walking up Monivong Avenue today, looking for a computer shop that would print off the internet. It’s surprising how many places will print and copy but aren’t connected to the internet. Monivong’s a wide street, 3 lanes each way, with concrete dividers up the middle to stop Cambodians enjoying their national sport of driving on the wrong side of the road.

On the road was a guy, with only pants on. No shirt, no motor bike helmet. He was half sitting, half slumped, slumped forward to his left, so far that this head touched the road. His face was turned to his right (i.e. to his knees). It appeared to me that, had he vomited, he could have asphyxiated. At the same time I didn’t know if moving him could aggravate a spinal injury. Why did I never take one of those first aid courses where they teach you this stuff?  I took his pulse and he had one. I tried to find someone who understood any English. “He’s drunk” said one woman bystander. “He so drunk he falls off his friend’s motor bike.”

“Can you call an ambulance?”

She waves her hand dismissively. “No need. His friend pay for tuk tuk to take him to his friend’s office.”

By the time I turned back to look at the guy again, he was flat on his back. Not the position you want to be in if you do vomit. I looked around. Two cops were  about twenty feet away. One with – I think – a rifle over his back. They didn’t seemed too concerned.

After a while a trishaw- that’s a three wheled  thing where one guys wheels the carriage from behind, using just leg power- appeared. Two other people began to lift him into the trishaw. The tri-shaw pedals off. The onlookers disperse. The cops probably didn’t even take notes.

I wonder what would happen to me if I were hit by a motorbike?