The Rise and Fall of Phnom Pen Part 1

 

When I first visited Phnom Pen, it didn´t make a great impression on me.

The main tourist attractions – the Silver Pagoda, the Royal Palace on the Tonle Sap River, and the gruesome relics from the notorious reign of the Khymer Rouge (the S21 torture prison and the Chou Ek ‘killing fields’) could easily be seen in a day or two.

For the rest it just seemed like another sprawling, polluted Asian city.

On future visits, I changed my mind.

There was something unique about Phnom Pen which I liked but I didn´t know what.

Then one day it dawned on me…

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Supermoon! Part 1

In March, 2020, two months after Anya and I arrived in Australia, I bought a pair of astronomical binoculars.

In other words: binoculars meant for stargazing.

Star gazing binoculars are heavy because their viewing lens – the lens at the end of the binoculars as it were – must have a wide diameter in order to let in enough light on nights when there is no moon and its only on moonless nights that serious star gazing  is possible.

Because of their weight, star gazing binoculars are not the sort of thing to just pop into your rucksack  – and until February that year, Anya and I had been living out of our rucksacks: crossing borders and experiencing different places and cultures.

Then came The Virus…….

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Woolly Mammoth

Arriving in Prague that morning, we had time on our hands.

Our flight to Amsterdam was in the evening.

It was the summer of 2018, at the height of the tourist season in Europe and wherever you looked, there were people and more people. 

Seems like another world now and well, it was.

We had been walking in the south of the Czech Republic for the previous month and now, after weeks of solitude, there was no avoiding it: a long day in super overcrowded airports and public transport.

We weren´t interested in sight-seeing. We had visited Prague several times in the past and didn’t want to devalue our memories. Like most other European cities including Amsterdam, Prague was over commercialised, over-priced and over-crowded.   

For want of any other ideas, we went to the Prague City Museum.

It was housed in a beautiful old, classical style building, but besides it’s architecture, the exhibits didn’t make a lasting impression on me. 

Except for one: a replica of a woolly mammoth……

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The Slum Girl

 

I was on my way back to my hotel, when she ran up behind me, yelling.

It was a high pitched sound, bird like.

Before I knew it, she was standing in front of me and pointing at my camera.

It was a young girl wrapped in a blanket and all too obviously from a poor, lower caste family. She was sleeping on the streets, along with so many others……..

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The Raid

 

THE ALDINGA BAY CAFÉ

Fine Indian Food

Eat in or Take Away

 

They´d been there for 12 years.

A middle aged Indian couple and their teenage son.  

The Aldinga Bay Café.

There were many Indian restaurants in Adelaide and a large Indian community. But at the popular beach side suburb of Aldinga – a good 40 kilometres out of the CBD – there was one.

And it was a good one.

The Aldinga Bay Café became well known and highly regarded, but that didn’t offer any protection on the night when the police turned up ……

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