It’s Khmer New Year B.E. 2561 and we should choose a better topic to celebrate here. But I refuse to go to the Kep Beach to see the many visitors from Phnom Penh for a reason: garbage. At this very moment, while all Cambodians celebrate the new year with all happiness and cheh, cheh, cheh… all Cambodian beautiful spots are target of thousands of plastic, empty bottles, polystyrene utensils, all, spread everywhere by the happy Cambodian families celebrating with joy and love the Khmer New Year. Garbage on the pagodas, garbage along the roads, garbage on beaches and garbage on the national parks… practically every single corner of the country where a good road can reach for their vehicles.
If you intend to drive a car, a motorbike, a bicycle or just take walks on Cambodian roads or streets, please take in account the following practices. Yes, officially, the international traffic law is in force in Cambodia and there are campaigns to educate people in how to follow the traffic rules, but… one thing is on paper, another is on the streets… so for your safety and the one of others, follow this recommendations:
- Cambodian drivers do not use driving license. It means that anybody with the possibility to move a vehicle, can drive, no matter if that person is 10 years old, has vision problems or never have been in a driving school. Technically there are several driving schools in each Cambodian province, but it does not mean that 100% of Cambodian drivers attend them. In theory yes, but few follow the driving lessons and the final exam is arranged by a dollar note. Police enforcement never requests driving license – at least it is about a foreigner to whom they would like to get some extra incomes. In particular, there is not driving license condition for motorbike drivers, so you can see children of 8 to 15 driving motorbikes on the roads, without any care for traffic rules – just because they never have been in a driving school.
The driving license in force in Cambodia are these:
I found this this water level measurement in a Cham´s village near Can Tho and it was very much interesting to see how the different floods fluctuate along the years. A good topic within this April drought and the sea level increase that is putting in danger the Mekong Delta. Following this local measurement, I built that diagram that traces the flood level since 1994. It is possible to see that every 5 years there is a big flood, being the most important the one of April 2000 (I remember it very well). The 2000 flood reached 2 meters up (you can see in my own photo). Following this graphic, it is possible to predict that we will get a big flood this or next year, since the last big flood was in 2010.
I found very wise the policy to adapt people to the sea intrusion, as the Vietnamese government is doing. But it needs also other meaningful adaptations such as the recovery of the jungle and the construction of of very expensive and super-technological floodgates (welcome Dutch people). But this fight against sea intrusion must not be seen as something of individual countries. In the case of the Mekong Delta, it does not affect Vietnam alone, but it includes Cambodia, while all countries along the Mekong basin should join together in a race against time.
One homemade product that deserves to be known in Cambodia: the palm sugar. How the farmer goes up to the palm, the traditional technics and cooking of one delicious local beverage. Watch this video produced in Kampot Province by students of social communication and journalism of Don Bosco Hatrans in Kep.