Tuesday – a day without rain!

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Hallelujah… lots of clouds but no rain (tll around 8.00 in the evening).  I took advantage to get out for a walk as soon as I got back from work (5.00ish) and took a few little clips of video to give you a taste of the walk.  Maybe because people are just recovering from the holiday it was a very quiet evening, so you won’t see the usual crowds, but I may not be able to do this for a while as getting an internet connection is pretty problematic.  I think there’s enough people around to give an idea..and plenty of other interest!

First up is the park near me, with walkers, footballers etc.

Next is a view of the Royal Palace compound and the park in front which leads down to the river.  There’s always quite a lot of picnickers and tourists round about here.  The national museum is just up to the right of the Royal compound.

This shot is further up the river…   it’s in the major middle range tourist area of the riverfront where there is also lots of backpacker- type accommodation.

This is where I have seen older European men with young Cambodian women.  It’s not a good look.   I find it very uncomfortable, of course a bit from the point of view of the women, though I really don’t know why I should comment.  I guess these Cambodian women are of an age where they can choose what they do and like many women before them they may choose the practicality of money ahead of anything else.  It’s their business, although there is a feeling that their choices must be quite limited if this is what they have chosen!    But what about the guys – who are these sad guys?  Can they not find something useful to do back in their home towns?   It seems that sex tourism exists here as in Thailand.  A number of charities have been established to take young women off the streets and they do a good job I am sure, several providing training in catering and other trades (e.g. Friends, Hagar).  Childsafe also looks out for street children.  However some of this seedy business seems quite normalised here.  Having said that, whatever the general rights and wrongs, one can rush to judgement of individuals too easily!   On a previous evening, as I walked up the riverside, I saw a European guy with greasy white/grey straggly hair pulled over his bald patch and into a thin pony tail and I judged him as I looked at him.  Later on, as I walked back down I saw him with two beautiful coltish young Cambodian girls and a sound looking middle-aged Cambodian woman.  They were his family and I was so wrong!   I am sure there are many interesting personal (hi)stories here, and his/theirs would be one.  I felt I should go over and apologise to him for what I had thought… but then again I hadn’t told him my earlier thoughts anyway.   I just kept everything to myself (until now).

We humans have such extraordinary capacity to make instant judgements of others on first sight. I do it all the time without realising it, except in reflective moments like this.  I’m also conscious of other people doing that too.. you know when you are walking along the street then catch the eye of someone in a car for a split second, or looking around a crowded room, realise that someone else is looking at you, but looks away as soon as they realise you have spotted them!  Some evolutionary psychologists trace this back to the early days of humanity, when they say there was an evolutionary advantage for those who could size up other people, read facial expressions, body language, signs behind the words as to intentions:  is this someone I can trust or do they pose a threat to the stability of our small band?  Working out whether you could trust someone or not was a life or death issue.

Whether or not you go along with that, some people do have an extraordinary capacity to read intention (whether accurately or not is another story).   Some of the teenage girls at Lornshill had some of the most extraordinarily sensitive perceptions to others’ intentions I have ever come across.  On the plains of Africa 30,000 years ago, this may have been very handy.  In a crowded school environment it could be less so!  A common reason for starting a fight might be that another girl ‘was giving me a dirty look’ and to receive a dirty look without reply was an insult which could not be borne.  Some girls could spot a ‘dirty look’ at fifty or sixty yards across the other side of the school quadrangle.  I couldn’t even see the face, never mind that microsecond-long veiling of the eyes, or slight smirk at the side of the mouth, or that quick glance up and down from tip to toe which might mean ‘you’re a mink, your clothes are a disgrace’, depending on the ‘look’.  But the other girl would see these slight gesures and interpret them as a challenge or an insult and away we would go into all-out warfare.   All the same, even for a male of my advanced years, in the course of a walk up the riverside, I have maybe caught the eye or glanced at another hundred or more other humans, and smiled or avoided, or surmised, or judged many of them.  It is an extraordinary social capacity and I’m sure could be better used!    How often a smile gets a smile back.

This last shot is of my favourite line dancing group.  I’ve seen them quite a few times, although they don’t seem to get really busy till after dark.  The old guy at the front (probably younger than me!) really fascinates me.  I don’t know what to make of him (how to judge him??).   He wears combat shorts (sometimes football shorts) and a vest.    He never looks at the young leader beside him, but always knows what to do. I think maybe they are father and son and rehearse their moves together before they set up the speakers in the evening.  This little video is just a taste.  Maybe one time I’ll go there and join in!    My rather jerky videos result from my nervousness about taking them in the first place.. I feel a bit uncomfortable taking videos directly of people in that way. .. so they are just short snatches of film.  Comment on this would be valued!!

Today I also received Adam and Lisa’s ‘thank you’ card, following the wedding in August.  It’s one of Adam’s brilliant pieces of work. If you look at the card, you can find everyone who was at the wedding, with several people in different scenes taken from different parts of the day – even including Lance fixing the car Beth had borrowed from a friend in London and which started leaking petrol out the tank in the hot August sun.  The actual wedding is up the hill under the tree, with Lisa and Adam either side of the celebrant.  Matthew is on Adam’s left and I’m about four along from that – spot the bald head- beside Joan and Lisa’s parents.   You can also find me calling the ceilidh dance further down, though there was lots of other dancing going on too.  The whole day is there if you look hard enough – the incomparable singing Sneddens, Susie and Steph, the Buto dance performance, the carrot flute, the Ali McBeal dance…. so much more … and then finishing off with Chinese lanterns heading off in the night sky towards Crieff,  Liz and Graham to the fore.  Who needs photos if you can draw an event like this!  Well done Adam and Lisa.

If you double click on your browser the card will load as a .jpg and may be a bit clearer but it’s a 5MB file so will take some time to download I think.


Adam and Lisa's Wedding - the 'thank you' card



10 thoughts on “Tuesday – a day without rain!

  1. Hi Danny good to catch up with your activities. Love the video clips, a tantalising taster – but what about the smells, the food/flowers/soaps etc which embed in the memory – I’m thinking there must be a market for scratch and sniff blogs!
    Glad that “home” is taking shape and that a teapot has been installed – the fount of all things comforting.
    It’s a tricky business taking pictures when abroad I agree – kind of identifies one as an observer rather than a participant – asking people to take pictures for you can be good for connecting but it’s difficult if you don’t share much language. Joan says you have been asked to do some training – hope that goes well – 5 days is a bit of a big ask though! It’s dull and wet here but no monsoons …yet. Hope you are well. Keep blogging.

  2. Great, make sure it isn’t raining when we come over on Wednesday! No, that’s all to selfish… Thanks for the self-reflections, it makes me think as well…. Because of the ever slow internet in our Mekong hotel I don’t even dare to try the movies, but I think I can imagine what you mean. Enjoy the beautiful moments!

    • Very good article Sam and well worth anyone looking at to explore the complexity of this issues. I think the people I have noticed (I may have seen other things but not realised what it was) come into the category of the ‘free agents’ mentioned in the article –
      ‘Additionally, although Cambodia has seen a rise in the number of free agent sex workers in recent years, there are relatively few “temporary girlfriend” arrangements between prostitutes and tourists compared to Thailand, where foreign tourists are often seen traveling around the country with young female companions.^^ One reason for the dearth of free agents is Cambodia’s still relatively small tourist industry. The free agent phenomenon is associated with high concentrations of Western men.’
      Since this article was written in 2004 I think this may have changed. On any evening walk up the river one might see maybe 5 -10 older western men of dubious attractiveness to women with stunning looking Cambodian women in their twenties who are apparently happy to be with them. The darker aspects of the sex trade mentioned in the article are not so evident on public display – at least at the riverside. I had not realised that ‘local’ sex trade is such a big part of this. I still have a lot to learn!
      However when I went onto BBC Asia Pacific with my new found flexible internet at home!) the first thing I saw was a feature on Cambodian bar girls – there’s a snippet available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v781z but I think the whole thing is going onto i.player soon.

  3. The videos are great, Danny. They give a real feeling of being there – and it all looks quite different from what I had imagined. One thing which impresses me greatly is that the streets and pavements all seem to be spotless – can’t spot any litter anywhere.

    • unfortunately there is a lot of rubbish – many things are thrown into the river for example and there are odious smells near certain places. However there are people keep the pavements by the river, and in the parks, clean through constant sweeping!

  4. Cambodia looks nothing like I would have imagined – I need to get out more. The line dancing is fantastic. You must join in. Group dancing ticks virtually all human requirements for happiness – activity, companionship, common purpose, structure, music. Teach them the slosh and your time in Cambodia will have been truly worthwhile.

    • Hi Carol
      Good to hear from you.
      My little videos are nothing like the ‘real Cambodia’ – PP is quite different…and the bits of PP I have video’d even more different.. from the real Cambodia of small villages and rice paddies and great poverty. This is changing and I suppose the city is the first place you see real change…

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