Water, then beer

April 11, 2012

I know many of you might be waiting for more news on the ‘bin baby’ story, but I’m proceeding slowly with getting more details and protecting peoples’ privacy. It’s a wonderful, if heartrending, story, and deeply moving, but I’m not going to sensationalise it. There are too many cultural nuances that I don’t fully understand yet at play. But I’ll keep you posted.

Instead, here are a few random things: Our landlords came for the rent the other day. They also gave us five pounds of green mangos, and an invitation to a party, which we couldn’t read, as it was in Khmer.  It turned out to be a huge event, to celebrate the lives of the landlord’s parents. And we got to go to all of it, which was profoundly touching.

The day started with the parents climbing up a stupa erected on the pavement outside our flat, and being ritually bathed and purified.

Then a cohort of monks led several hours of chanting. This was rather mesmerising; after a while I thought I was hearing elements of dub reggae and Belgian techno music.

In the evening there was dinner for 300; they blocked the road and erected tents along the street.

Blossom with Theary and Lina, nieces of our landlord.

Then there was dancing, into the small hours.

This is our landlord Mr Sokha, gettin’ on down.

I ended up being hand-fed pieces of questionable meat by the local chief of police, who now loves me, and offers me beer every time I see him. Even when I’m on my way to work.

This is part of my random series of strange houses in Cambodia.

This is apparently a house, for people to live in, built by some rich businessman for his family. Personally, I think it looks like it ought to be the Great Hall of the People in North Korea, but no, it’s a family house.

We went on an architectural tour of Phnom Penh later over the weekend, and what was most noticeable was how many of the old buildings had been taken over by squatters after people flooded back to PP following the Khmer Rouge era. Beautiful French colonial hotels, churches, schools; all were now partitioned into tiny makeshift spaces holding whole families. Which makes this particular house look wrong on far too many levels.

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One Response to “Water, then beer”

  1. I was told that this is the house built by the Tiger Beer Baron (one of many dozens he owns around the world), but has never set foot in it, as he doesn’t like it! If true, it makes it even more distasteful.

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