Showing posts with label Cambodia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cambodia. Show all posts

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Door and a Coffin on Wheels

A man carrying a door on a motorbike earlier in Hengyang, China, earlier this year . . .

man carrying a door on a motorbike

. . . reminded of a similar transportation involving a coffin in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, last year.

man carrying a coffin on a motorbike

Yet another unexpected connection . . .

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Photos That Nearly Made Here it in 2013

When I upload a photo to Picasa it usually means I plan to use it soon in a blog post. But sometimes things don't go as planned. So to start off 2014 here, I will share a mishmash of photos from 2013 that were uploaded but for one reason or another never made their way into a published post. In addition to any descriptions, I'll share links to earlier related posts--all except two from 2013. Together they provide reminders of a tiny bit of what was covered here during the previous year and a hint of some of what else I had hoped to share and write about.

So in chronological order...

2013 for me began celebrating in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After Kuala Lumpur, I went to Penang, where I listened to a woman describe her challenges visiting her son in the US, and later Melaka, where not far from the Melaka River I saw this shop in a mall:

stall selling a variety of items in a mall in Melaka, Malasia

Some of the flip-flops (sandals) for sale caught my attention:

flip-flops with the logos for Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and YouTube

What do all of the brands on these flip-flops have in common? They are all global online services created and based in the US. I didn't see any Baidu, WeChat, or Tencent flip-flops...

Later in Melaka, I think not to far from where I met a young woman seeking forgiveness, I looked up and saw this:

blue sky with clouds in Melaka, Malaysia

For more about why my time in China has given me a deeper appreciation of blue skies with "normal" clouds, see the 2012 post "Skies and Clouds in China" with scenes from Macau.

After Malaysia, I headed to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where I documented many examples of people riding pedal-powered vehicles, motorbikes, and motorized-vehicles which were pulling or pushing something. However, there was one example, like one of a coffin being delivered on a motorbike, that I had hoped to share in its own post. I never got around to the post, so here is the photo:

young woman with many flowers riding a pedal-powered rickshaw in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Street vehicles weren't the only thing on my mind in Phnom Penh. For example, at one shop I noticed this screen for a cash register at a small convenience store:

computer screen showing calculations for price and change in US dollars and Cambodian Riel

In Cambodia, both US and Cambodian currency are regularly used, and transactions can include both. The above screen is presumably an attempt to make life easier and reduce the number of errors.

While in Cambodia I also went to the riverside town of Kampot. In the countryside I walked to Fish Isle, ate a mysterious sea creature, surprised a little girl by answering her phone call, and explored the area to the north by bike. I didn't share many scenes from central Kampot, but here's one at a large market:

man posing next to a van with its back door open to pack in more vegetables

After Cambodia, I went to Vietnam, Taiwan, and the US. No unused uploaded photos from those places, but there's one from my next stop: Seoul, South Korea:

MLB store in Seoul, South Korea

This was one of several MLB (Major League Baseball) stores I saw in Seoul. In the window the logo for the Los Angeles Dodgers can be seen--the same team some men were watching at Seoul's Namdaemun Market.

After returning to China, I had the opportunity to revisit Cheung Chau--one of Hong Kong's outlying islands. While there, I saw this monkey:

hanging orange toy monkey in Cheung Chau

I had considered posting the photo without any comment except a title something like "Orange Ennui in Cheung Chau".

Fortunately, ennui wasn't an issue for me on Cheung Chau. Nor was it during my visits to nearby Macau where I saw beer speeding through the streets on the peninsula and these three young women in Cotai:

three young women wearing racing clothes, helmets, and goggles in Macau

Almost 2 years ago I shared my experience taking a random bus ride in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Several months ago I took another random bus ride in Zhuhai. Maybe someday I will share more of what I saw, but for now I will just say I was particularly surprised to hear, and then see, goats:

three black goats on and around a brick path in Zhuhai

Also while in Zhuhai, I shared some scenes from a late-night outdoor dining establishment. For a contrast, here's an outdoor dining scene at a pricier establishment:

outdoor dining scene at a cafe in Zhuhai

Usually I enjoy the local Chinese-style seafood in Zhuhai, but this is my favorite place for a smoked salmon sandwich.

Finally, more recently I shared a scene from a restaurant in Changsha--a city where I've seen a lot of change. This is the spicy chicken dish I ate for lunch at the restaurant:

spicy chicken dish, rich, and a pot of tea at a restaurant in Changsha, China

And that brings this unplanned set of photos to a close. Undoubtedly, more photos, experiences, and thoughts from previous years will appear here in the future--as will new ones.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A New Online View from Cambodia's Streets

Earlier this year I posted photos from Phnom Penh of people riding pedal-powered vehiclesmotorbikes, and motorized-vehicles which were pulling or pushing something. Not only did the photos include a variety of vehicles, but they also captured many other aspects of life in Cambodia's capital city.

If all goes as planned, many more street scenes will be available online through Google's Street View. Jon Russell in The Next Web reports that Google has brought its cameras to Cambodia:
Cambodia becomes the 51st country on the planet to embrace Street View and, like many others, tourism is among the driving factors. Google says it is working closely with the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, the APSARA Authority (ANA), and the Phnom Penh Municipality to make the program happen.

Street View cars have started whizzing around capital city Phnom Penh capturing images and, as is common with Street View projects, they will expand to cover other cities, town and areas of interest over “the next few years.”
Although I would be surprised if Google's cameras make it to where I explored in Kampot's Fish Isle, it may soon be easier for people to track down some of what I saw in Phnom Penh, whether it is the iPhone jailbreaking stand, the restaurant which serves tasty spiders, or even the Facebook Ice Cream store. Russell reports that the famous Angkor Wat historical site is a target for Google's Street View cameras and that government officials see it as an opportunity for Cambodia to showcase itself to the world. In that sense, even if many Cambodians cannot afford to own the technology required to use Street View, they might benefit from it encouraging people to explore Cambodia.

little girl sitting on a jug on a cart being pushed by a young woman at a market in Phnom Penh
I don't have any photos of a Street View car in Phnom Penh, so instead here's someone who might like to ride one.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Chinese Signs at Factories in Cambodia

Three months ago I stared out the window of a bus as I returned to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. About 40 minutes outside of Phnom Penh I noticed a number of "for sale" or "for rent" signs for factories or land.

Land for sale

Factory for rent

I also saw a number of signs for factories apparently in use. What most caught my attention about the signs (and why I knew what they said) was that they were written in Chinese. Often no Khmer (Cambodian) writing appeared. Sometimes there was English.

Whatever these signs indicate, the number of factories in Cambodia has been growing. In The New York Times Keith Bradsher raised several key points including:
  • Some companies are motivated to have factories in Cambodia in part due to increased costs in China or perceived risks in China.
  • Costs such as worker's salaries are lower in Cambodia than in China, but those savings can be offset by other factors, such as lower productivity.
  • At least in some cases, competition for employees and strikes by workers are leading to better working conditions and increased pay.
Despite all of this, it is not surprising that total foreign investment in Cambodia remains much lower than in China. There are a variety of relevant factors, one of which is that Cambodia has a population of 14 million people while China has a population 1.3 billion. But I found another comparison Bradsher made to be especially intriguing:
...last year was the first time since comparable recordkeeping began in the 1970s that Cambodia received more foreign investment per person than China.
See the article here for more.

In the China Law Blog Dan Harris emphasized that Bradsher's report does not suggest a current massive shift of factories from China to countries such as Cambodia. He also shared how some of what his "law firm is seeing among its clients" matches up:
  • Small clothing and shoe companies that seriously looked at moving operations to Vietnam or Cambodia or but then chose not to do so because it would be “too difficult” to set up a supply chain in those places...
  • Mid-sized and large clothing and shoe companies that have put their toes into Vietnam or Cambodia by doing a bit of outsourcing from those countries or by setting up small factories there.
  • Many companies of all kinds sending people to scope out Vietnam or Cambodia and, more recently and to a lesser extent, Myanmar.
See the post here for thoughts about what the future holds for foreign manufacturers in Southeast Asia.

Although the increased number of factories in Cambodia has potential benefits for the local population, not all is rosy. For example, a factory recently collapsed and workers are protesting at a factory that makes clothing for Nike. In The Globe and Mail, Mark MacKinnon and Marina Strauss take an in-depth look at a Taiwanese firm's factory and highlight another problem in Cambodia:
At Ying Dong, it takes only a glance to realize how young some of the work force is. “There are a lot of young workers here – many are younger than her,” said 21-year-old Danet, pointing at a particularly diminutive colleague wearing a pink Ying Dong Shoes shirt. The younger girl quickly hid behind other colleagues. “Lots of the girls are 14, 15, 16, 17,” Danet said.
See the article here for more about underage workers at Ying Dong and the working conditions there.

In some ways similar to China, the interplay of companies' motivation for having factories in Cambodia, the benefits of the factories for the local population, and workers' desire to improve conditions & pay will continue. It seems likely that the number of factories in Cambodia will continue to grow. One question I have is whether the Chinese signs are suggestive of who will be behind much of that growth.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Calling the Country of Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong is a special administrative region in China, it has some characteristics, including its border with Shenzhen, that give it the flavor of an independent country. One way Hong Kong is country-like is that it has its own country code for international phone calls. Not only are the country codes different for Hong Kong and mainland China, but the rates for calling the two regions can differ as well. On a billboard in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I saw one example of how this can present a challenge:

billboard reading "6 cents to 11 countries" with images of flags from 10 countries and Hong Kong

I can't say with certainty why the sign is in English, but it is worth pointing out that it was located in the midst of areas where many foreigners can be found. And not only does Phnom Penh have a number of expats living there who may want to frequently make international calls, but in Cambodia it can be much cheaper for foreign visitors to buy a temporary SIM card than to use international roaming on their regular number. In fact, the company advertising on the billboard, Cellcard, had been recommended to me for this purpose.

Whatever the case, it is factually incorrect for the sign to describe Hong Kong as a country. But since only listing China would not indicate the rate to Hong Kong, it makes sense in this case to mention both Hong Kong and China. It's possible the sign's creators were unaware that Hong Kong is not a country. However, it's also possible they appreciated Hong Kong's status but decided that the concise statement "6 cents to 11 countries" was still preferable to any alternatives they considered. Sometimes simplicity trumps accuracy.

Instead of addressing what Hongkongers may have to say after seeing this sign, I'll answer another question that may now be on some readers' minds. Along with Austria, Australia, Brunei, India, Germany, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Sweden, and the UK, at the moment the cost for calling Taiwan is 15 cents per minute. I didn't see any signs for that though.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Edacious and Potatory Views

While pondering today's earlier post of my view from a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, I recalled taking photographs under similar conditions in China such as: where I relaxed with several glasses of green tea at Chuan Shipo Lake in Changsha, Hunan province; a restaurant in historic Xizhou, Yunnan province; a restaurant where I watched a donkey pulling a cart in Zhaotong, Yunnan province; where I enjoyed lunches in Sujiawei, Guangdong province, and Ganzhou, Jiangxi province; where I imbibed a bottle of British organic cider in Lamma Island, Hong Kong.

The previous links lead to a variety of views, and I wouldn't be surprised if I have posted other photos that fit this theme as well. Each in its own way feels special to me and prompts numerous related memories. I will avoid deeper reflection on what they mean to me. There may be some of that in coming months. Instead, I will share another photo from my recent travels outside of China:

second story view of a river and mountains in Kampot, Cambodia
The view from my seat at a restaurant in Kampot, Cambodia

That's all for today. Explore the above links for more scenes. It's time for me to have a late night meal and drink. Maybe my attention will be captured by yet another view.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Slicing Up People: A Coffin on a Motorbike in Phnom Penh

In part to provide another taste of life in Cambodia's capital, I recently shared some scenes of various items being carried on small motorized vehicles. However, a bit of "life" is not all that can be found in such scenes. One day as I walked Phnom Penh's streets, something passed by that I had never seen before.

motorbike carrying a coffin on the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Not intended for flight

I'm not familiar with coffin delivery services in Phnom Penh, but I find it easy to believe what I saw was not the first instance of a person transporting a coffin on a motorbike there. This method of coffin delivery is not unique to Phnom Penh. Similar examples from elsewhere were easy to find online, including a pedal-powered vehicle in Vietnam (this image) and motorbikes in Uganda and the Philippines. And I would not be shocked to see something like this in China. However, I suspect that a coffin being delivered in the manner seen above would be much less likely to occur in some other countries such as the U.S.

Even though I know of no formal research to back up my beliefs about coffin delivery services, they are at least symbolic of how some behaviors or practices can be found in many, but not all, regions across the world. This in turn suggests how categorizing people, whether for academic or business purposes, is sometimes not as simple as cutting up regions on the globe based on their proximity. For example, some of what can be found in Cambodia might be found in Uganda but not in far closer Japan and Singapore.

It's often not easy to define the appropriate groupings for the task at hand, but doing so can be crucial in the pursuit of not only better understanding people, but also better discovering, designing, and, yes, delivering solutions which address people's wants and needs.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Jailbreaking Your iPhone in Cambodia

Have you arrived in Cambodia from the U.S.? Are you interested in unlocking your iPhone so you can use other mobile service providers? If so, near the Russian Market, a popular tourist destination in Phnom Penh, there are people ready help.

outdoor desk with signs in English offering jailbreaking services for iPhone iOS 6 and iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 with AT&T

The all-English signs and mention of AT&T, a major provider of mobile phone services for people based in the U.S., especially caught my attention. The small operation serves as an intriguing example of how some in Cambodia are seeking to profit by providing services that may be desired by foreigners.

And I'll leave it at that.


Actually, I won't leave it at that. Not long after I finished this post, I saw some related news on Wired:
The President Barack Obama administration said Monday that it made “common sense” for Americans to legally have the power to unlock their mobile phones, so they could use them on a compatible carrier of choice without fear of being sued or facing criminal penalties.
This raises some questions about the above business's future. It could be an interesting issue to explore. And I'll leave it at that.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Small Motorized Vehicles Carrying and Pulling in Phnom Penh

Once more, to provide a small taste of life in urban Cambodia and a contrast to the scenes from Cambodia's countryside south and north of Kampot town, I will share some scenes of people riding vehicles in central Phnom Penh. Earlier posts included motorbikes and pedal-powered vehicles. This post will return to the motorized vehicle theme but with an added twist: something is being pulled--such as the cabin of a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) or a mobile food stall--or something is being carried in addition to any riders. Background sights include the Supreme Court building in the first photo and a construction site for a new complex with a shopping area, condominiums, office space, and a hotel.

This will be last post with a large number of photos in this series. However, I have some related photos to single out later.

ma driving a tuk-tuk past the Cambodian Supreme Court building in Phnom Penh

tuk-tuks in Phnom Penh

motorbikes at a crowded interestion in Phnom Penh

man with child driving a motorbike with a mobile drink cart in Phnom Penh

people carrying boxes while riding motorbikes in Phnom Penh

motorbike with cart trailer

man carrying a large bag on a motorbike

two men carrying large containers on a motorized tricycle cart

tuk-tuk driving by a construction site in Phnom Penh

man riding motorbike with mobile drink cart

man driving tuk-tuk filled with goods

two motorbike pulling filled carts in Phnom Penh

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scenes of People Pedaling in Phnom Penh

In the same spirit of yesterday's post of people riding motorbikes, here are some photos of people riding bicycles or cyclos (cycle rickshaws). Like before, the scenes can serve as a glimpse of the life and environment in central Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

young women carrying baskets while riding bicycles

women riding as passengers in a cyclo

woman wearing a hat riding a bicycle

man carrying boxes on a cyclo (pedal rickshaw)

kids riding bicycles at a traffic circle

two girls riding a bicycle by a sign which reads "ARTillery Cafe. Organic. Fresh. Homemade."

two young women wearing face masks while riding bicycles

man pedaling a cycle rickshaw with a woman riding

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Street Scenes of People Riding Motorbikes in Phnom Penh

The busy streets of central Phnom Penh present an excellent opportunity to see people going about their daily lives in Cambodia's largest city. In that spirit, I will share several posts with photos of people riding some of the vehicles common there such as motorbikes, bicycles, and rickshaws.

In this post, I will share the photos of people riding motorbikes. The photos not only capture people on the go, but the life and scenery around them. You may want to focus on the motorbikes, the styles of clothing worn by people, the number of people riding a vehicle, who is and who is not wearing helmets, the architectural styles of the surrounding buildings, the activities of people on the street side, and so on. There's much to discover in these scenes, and they provide a striking contrast to those I've recently shared from Cambodia's countryside here and here.

two men and a boy riding a motorbike by a market

young woman with an angry birds bag on a motorbike

men sitting on motorbikes at the roadside

man and four children on a motorbike

young woman with dyed hair on a motorbike

man, woman, and three children on a motorbike

young fashionable couple on a motorbike

man on a motorbike

young man and young woman on a motorbike

man with four children on a motorbike

monk as a passenger on a motorbike

several motorbikes driving next to a car

two men on a motorbike

woman stopped on her motorbike

small girl sitting on a motorback and holding the waist of the driver