The security guards at our borey are made to salute every time a resident vehicle is passing by. No, this is no ordinary guarding, it’s military-styled salute and every guard in the borey has to do that. The borey owner who came up with this idea must have his fair share of working with state institution or have his brain washed with the culture of status and class that is so widespread in our current society. Or is he forced to succumb to pressure from some self-important Range-Rover excellencies who somehow can’t live without regular doses of praises, bows and worshipping? Won’t surprise me one bit.
The current guards are actually from a new company. A few months back, the old security guards did not salute, but made a gentle bow nonetheless. At that time, I said to the wife “these chaps will quit soon, if they’re made to bow like that every time”. True enough, they were gone, replaced by a new batch. Or have they got fired for refusing to salute? I don’t know, but I I suspected they did not enjoy it, the bowing, let alone the salute. Neither do I feel comfortable having got salutes left and right. Next time I’ll stop by and make a point that they won’t need to do what they do, at least to me. I suspect it will be futile, but is worth a try. See I’m just a normal citizen, no Range Rover, no Lexus, no VIP plate, no special dashboard sticker. Even if I’m a significant someone, I’ll find something else to drink rather than get drunk in the culture of class, status and privilege.
A trip to Takhmau wet market with Nikkor 85mm f1.8D.
1. Let’s start shooting with some bamboo shoots
2. Carrots & tomatoes
4. Khmer traditional medicines, artworks are beautifully colorly.
5. Shoes, colorful shoes, new khmer styles
8. Water lillies
9. Red snappers
10. Bags, new khmer styles.
Follow-up from the previous post. Here are some flower photos. Taken with the cheap 50mm f1.8D lens. Comments & Critiques very welcome.
We went to Kampot and Bokor the other weekend and took some pictures during the time. It was actually my first time going to Bokor after a few earlier missed opportunities. The road up there is smoother than anything in Cambodia. It was wide enough for two big vehicles with appropriate traffic signs, lights, mirrors, water drainage, anti-land slide and rock slide, and cliff barriers. With a slightly cooler climate, for a while, you thought you were driving up some mountains in 1st world countries. This is design- and engineering- excellence. Kudos to whoever built this 30km+ road.
1. This is the best road in the Kingdom.
2. The railway just crosses the road at the foot of the mountain
3. The stone face on the way up
4. Yeay Mao shrine half-way up. The sky was foggy. The weather was warmer than expected
5. The three Musketeers guarding Yeay Mao
6. From Yeay Mao shrine, we could see the old casino and water tower. We were going there.
7. Here it is, sadly it’s being refurbished. The expected charm and haunting looks are gone.
8. The casino and the cliff. I didn’t realize I caught a bird in the frame
9. The water tower
10. The gate to nowhere, on top of Bokor. Auberg, Auberg something.
11. Actually it led to an old building. View from that building
12. The plane landing pitch is here. Big enough for A320
13. Buddha mural decorated the wall. Shame about overlayed vandals.
14. Back to Kampot old town, along the river front under evening sun.
15. The river front promenade
16. We spotted a number of boats passing by the stone bridges. U-boat? the wolf pack?
17. The head of the pack (the wolf pack)
18. Wait for me buddy! The last one descended into sunset
More higher-res photos are here.
Last weekend, we went to Takhmau pagoda for a traditional Pchum Ben ceremony. Here’re some pictures I took. Shot with Nikon D7000 and Sigma 17-50 f2.8, processed by Lightroom.
We were greeted by a kitten. Sad kitten is sad.
Good thing, it was not overcrowded, but it’s not the big 15th Ben yet.
If there’re many Lexus and Range Rovers, chances are the pagoda is well-off and may not need much extra contributions.
Grey sky and a grim drizzling morning did little to dampen the festivities.
Bye-bye kitten. Don’t be sad, there’s plenty of food this season.
They say popular things are usually not the best ones. In terms of food, it’s the same, Junk/Fast food are almost always the most popular ones. Well, I agree that some fast food are tasty every once in a while, Burger for example. But what I don’t understand is that some food are neither tasty, healthy nor fast, but still have sky-rocket popularity. My fellow Khmers sure have weird tastes that continue to baffle my head. Here are the four food that I just can’t understand:
1. The Fastfood Pizza: I’m not talking about the real oven-cooked Pizza. The Pizza here are the ones by fast food chains such as the Pizza Company or Lucky Burger. Apparently, there’re the only places the Khmer look for their pizza. I mean they call that Pizza? I heard somewhere that it should be named “Cambodia Pies” instead. I’m not even sure it is oven-cooked; with all the oil, it looks more like a fried one. In terms of tastes, the first bite is ok and then it’s downhill from there. I’m pretty sure the reason it’s accompanied by Coke is to wash it down so you can forget how it taste.
Maximum recommended dosage: Once every 6 months if forced by your Khmer colleagues
2. The Suki Soup: what is this thing? Well there is a soup and plenty of vegetable and some meat. Sounds good on paper but then you realize that the soup and the sauce are just a celebration of MSG. It tastes great the first time thanks to the MSG, but it leaves bad aftertaste, very bad I can’t even think of it as I write this. And then you have annoying little brats running around like a playground or worse the eternal birthday celebrations.
Verdict: this is probably the most unhealthy soup available here
Maximum recommended dosage: Once every year, but ask for healthier sauce
3. The Cow-walk-up-the-mountain dish: this is actually a great family dish, one of my favorites if done well. It’s basically a BBQ with a mountain-shape grill with plenty of vegetable. But I’m never a fan of group-cooked BBQ, because I’m sure it’d be never really properly cooked. The khmer took that to the next level. Most restaurants are poorly lit that you barely see the meat itself, and then they use animal fat instead of say butter or cooking oil. The end result are usually something resembling charcoal than food.
Verdict: did I say charcoal?
Maximum recommended dosage: Once every two years, if you want to contract cancer, otherwise ask for fried rice
4. The Cow-walk-on-the-plain dish: this is a variety of the Cow-walk-up-the-mountain dish, but intead of a grill, it is on a flat frying pan. I didn’t realize that the Khmer love butter so much. They litterally put a bowl of butter in the pan and start cooking what become more like a deep fried. Yes, deep friend with 100% butter. By the time you finish the dish, you might have consumed a kilo of butter.
Verdict: Too bloody oily for my taste
Maximum recommended dosage: Once every year if forced by your Khmer friends who insist on going there just because the youth are there.
I’m not the only one who think along this line. There’re plenty of fake stuff and scammers on the market these days. Whitening cream in 3 days? Good luck with that. Buying medicine? Choose carefully. Sometimes it’s scary to buy unfamiliar things or deal with unfamiliar business as there’s a good chance that either you’ll get overcharged, or get somewhat cheated, or in the worse case get sick or injured. It doesn’t help that most business dealings rely heavily on familiarity and close relations. Different faces, different prices and different treatment- sometimes totally opposite treatments as most foreigners can relate. But more often, it’s the locals who get scammed.
Questions should be asked:
Unlike in other countries, where you can find most product/business reviews and price comparison online; here we have to rely on words of mouth. An independent monitoring and reporting group would greatly help, something similar to the Consumer Report in the US. Even better, if the group is authorized by the government to fine, ban and punish bad businesses as well as to award good ones. I myself would volunteer to contribute to the cause.