Sunday, January 22, 2012

Phnom Penh Musings

January 13--It's the last day before John and I leave for Thailand. I'm up early this morning, watching the world wake up. I have a cup of coffee and a good view of the street from Jimmy and Nine's second-floor balcony.

Alpha and Bravo (so named by Jimmy Joe), the two neighborhood alpha male dogs, have made rournds to re-mark their territory and make sure the dog from the next block isn't trespassing. They're what we woud call "curs," but well-fed and wearing collars.

The Chinese guys from across the street are giving their SUV, a black and shiny Lexus, its daily washing. (The Cambodians tend not to pronounce the last letter of each word. Therefore, Lexus becomes Lexee and Land Cruiser becomes Lancruisee.)

Three children pedal by on their bicycles, baskets piled high with books, on their way to the Chinese school. The girls have red skirts and white blouses, while the boy wears red trousers and a white shirt.

Across the street and two houses down, the little naked boy pays with a stick while his brother (carrying a backpack almost as big as he is) waits for his ride to school. Their parents run a tiny sidewalk cafe where locals stop for a snack or lunch.

Next door to the Chinese villa, a large blue tanker truck with three workers prepare to do something involving sections of pipe and a hose. Doesn't look good!

One of the women who does recycling announces her presence by blowing a horn that closely resembles the sound made by a New Year's Eve noisemaker. Residents bring their trash to the curb. The recycle lady then goes through the offered trash bags to take out anything she can bottles, plastic containers, aluminum cans, whatever. 

A family heads out on their moto. Dad is driving with the youngest child in front. Big Brother sits behind him, and Mom hangs on in back. By law, the driver must wear a helmet, but no one else is required to do so. They are joined by many more bicycles, motos and tuk-tuks, all going somewhere.

Out of sight but upwind, I know the neighbors are burning the night's fallen leaves. It's a daily ritual. They sweep the walk and driveway in front of the villa, then burn the smal pile of leaves and spent flowers. They may throw trash in the neighbor's gutter, but theirs is clean.

Never a moment goes by that something isn't happening.


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