One of the intriguing things about modern airports, which are coming more and more to resemble giant malls where the parking lot happens to be full of airplanes, is that some things can still be had for free. While some of the essentials of life - food, and Internet access - are charged at twice what you would pay elsewhere, others are not. The profit-maximizers haven't yet dared to demand money for access to the toilets, for obvious reasons. More surprisingly, free electrical power is also available to anyone who cares to look for one of the huge number of outlets scattered through the average airport, no small blessing to those of us who stagger through life accompanied by an increasing number of power-hungry gadgets.
January 2006 Archives
Global Village Epiphany
Continue reading 'Global Village Epiphany'
Chinese New Year
On our first night in Siem Reap, we went for a drink with M.'s friend Narissa, whose husband John takes hauntingly beautiful infra-red pictures (John probably deserves some kind of award for being the first person in sixty years to find a way to take an original picture at much-photographed Angkor). For reasons that seemed good at the time, we ended up at a fashion show.
Phnom Penh Life
08:00: Faced with another enormous breakfast, M. and I go on hunger strike.
09:00: Interviews at a karaoke bar in Krakor. My attempts to discreetly take photographs of the environment for use in an eventual report are somewhat frustrated by the fact that every time I step outside the gate, every child for six kilometres around appears and starts shouting
“hello, hello”. The adults look on bemused, wondering why the funny-looking foreigner is taking pictures of the gateposts of the local brothel.
Continue reading 'Furthur (V)'
11:00: We arrive in Pursat, and meet members of a local NGO. My grasp of Khmai is extremely limited, but my impression is that the conversation goes something like this.
“Hello. It is almost two hours since our last gigantic meal, and we are faint with hunger.”
“No problem. I will take you to a restaurant where they will feed you so much that your eyeballs will pop from your heads and roll away down the road.”
“Sounds good. Let's go.”
Continue reading 'Furthur (IV)'
08:00: We have the day off to go sight-seeing. C. ups the fashion ante yet again by appearing for breakfast in a clinging gold lame body-suit.
10:00: As Phnom Sampeau looms up out of the haze, W. and N. begin to sing a traditional Khmer folk song about all the things that you can see from the summit of Phnom Sampeau.
10:01: The driver hastily turns on the radio and turns it up loud enough to drown the singing from the back of the bus.
Continue reading 'Furthur (III)'
08:00: As we drive off to breakfast, M. brightly suggests that a well-known public figure might be an appropriate sponsor for a proposed national support network for men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM). Her proposal is not immediately understood. Before I can stop her, she clarifies.
“Well, lots of people in the West think that ...”. The eyes of the English speakers in the bus go instantly round with horror.
“You cannot say that.” P. tells her, wagging her finger at her seriously.
“You are in big trouble if you say that.”
08:05: K. quietly confirms that lots of people in Cambodia think that too.
Continue reading 'Furthur (II)'
05:00: The amplified chanting from next door, which stopped about 21:00 last night, resumes full-force.
08:15: A dog runs under the front wheel of the moto directly ahead of us. Somehow, the driver regains control, and the pregnant woman sitting sidesaddle on the back manages - just - to keep both her seat and the bicycle she is holding, avoiding a spill onto the roadway that would have put the moto and everyone on it under our car. This looks like being a good day for everyone except the dog.
Continue reading 'Furthur'
We were woken around 06:00 this morning by the sound of amplified chanting from outside.
“Is that An's radio?” I asked M. sleepily and none-too-intelligently.
“It's probably a funeral.” she said, and rolled over and went back to sleep with surprising equanimity, despite the cacophony.
Continue reading 'Mortality'
Phnom Penh Pictures
Our arrival in Phnom Penh this time was practically the antithesis of our experience the first time that I came here. Then, we arrived in a shared taxi from Kampot which dropped us off directly into the maelstrom of Dang Kor market, in the midst of a mob of moto drivers who had followed the taxi in for the last two or three hundred metres, hammering on the windows as they tried to get the attention of the passengers inside.
Continue reading 'Phnom Penh'
Some people might think that traveling on Friday the 13th is asking for trouble, I am just quietly hoping that the plane might be less than completely full, so that I can stretch out across a couple of seats. However, I'm flying JAL, so I'm likely to be disappointed. Their typical passenger might avoid the inauspicious 4th of the month, but is unlikely to have any fear of the 13th.
In any case, here I go again. New York to Bangkok via Tokyo, twenty-four hours of air travel padded out at either end with a few hours of local transit, airport waiting lounges and mandatory shoe searches.
Kodak has a new logo. Where the old one was instantly recognizable, the new one is bland in the extreme and the typeface looks amateurish, like something that a wannabe type designer might produce on their first day with Adobe Illustrator. What on earth were they thinking?
Once the transition is complete, I doubt I'll be moved to take pictures like this one again.