Someday a real rain…

May 28, 2012

Fear not, gentle reader: The Mighty Penh abides. It’s been a hectic week or so, half spent touring Taiwan, increasingly grumpily, and the other half racing to meet deadlines and dealing with leg-related issues.

The Taiwanese ill-humour was brought on by a surfeit of eye-wateringly dull museums: I spent over an hour one morning trying to feign interest in an exhibition of gourds, which was followed in short order by a hot springs museum and a historic oolong tea warehouse museum. The Taiwanese people, however, were unfailingly kind, polite and helpful, even when I was at my most bad tempered. (To be fair, this mostly consisted of me rolling my eyes a lot. I am quite polite too.)

Back in the Penh, I’ve been mainly typing in my hotel room, interspersed with runs to the hospital and emergency dashes to the office to proof other peoples’ pages. So in consequence, I haven’t seen much of Cambodia for a while. The elevator is almost in Chez Nous, apparently, although the final date has shifted, yet again, to the end of next week. Talking to the landlords, Blossom told them I was likely to be on crutches for at least another three months, which they found terrifically funny, to the extent that they had to wipe tears from their eyes. Not the response I would have expected. Especially as we’ve stopped paying rent until the lift is in.

The rainy season has finally begun, I think, which is nice. For an hour or so, usually after lunch, it pours, dramatically, then the skies clear and the roads dry out and life continues. Apparently annual rainfall in Cambodia is the same as central Ireland (and Uruguay); it’s certainly more dramatic. With the arrival of the rains, the heat has dropped to something less than furnace-like, which is a relief.

The rains have also emptied Phnom Penh of tourists. The Riverside, which is the Leicester Square (or Times Square) of Cambodia, is ghostly quiet, with only the very occasional crusty sexpat nursing a steadiying breakfast beer amidst acres of empty chairs.

The country is gearing up for local commune elections in a few days, and the streets are full of trucks with vast video screens on the back and the obligatory painfully overdriven speakers, showing campaign speeches. It’s hell on the congestion, but at least you get something to watch while waiting for a gap to appear in the traffic.

While the Cambodians seem, not unsurprisingly, extremely keen to have a go at democracy, no one is expecting any sort of changes. The theoretically far-more important parliamentary elections next year are also seen as a foregone conclusion, with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party certain to hold on to power. (His full job title is Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, which is pretty good, I think.) Hun Sen is a wily political streetfighter, who’s been in power for 27 years now. Despite leading an administration of International Olympic Committee levels of corruption, the simple continuity and stability he represents is enough for the majority of people of this country, and who can blame them?

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One Response to “Someday a real rain…”

  1. J&J said

    Beautifully written – as always.

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