The most prominent event in April is, of course, the Buddhist New Year Celebrations. This is the year 2555 on the Buddhist calendar. I remember a song entitled ‘In the Year 2525’ …. will man still be alive?
Well, we have 2011 already and despite some disasters of epic proportions, mankind so far managed to avoid annihilating itself.
Cambodians apparently don’t think much about these things. Their minds were on celebrating. As every year, Phnom Penh was largely deserted as many residents returned to their native villages to celebrate the New Year with their family. We are now in the Year of the Rabbit. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Check your Chinese zodiac. Are you a rabbit?
My family and I spent the weekend, actually the whole week, with a couple of friends in our house in SHV. One day we went down to Ocheuteal Beach for a picnic, which was packed as was to be expected. Nevertheless, tables and beach chairs were still available, probably because not everybody wanted to shell out $20 for a place to sit. Beach restaurant owners always rent out their chairs on holidays (although we did get one for free for the International New Year). It makes sense, of course. People usually bring their own food and drink, so the restaurateur doesn’t really make any money on that so they charge for the chairs and tables instead; quite legitimate in my mind. $20 might seem a little steep though.
What was striking was the virtual absence of foreigners on the beach. Normally they stroll along the new boardwalk. It seems they don’t really want to mingle with Cambodians. Tourists probably have some reservations to go to places where they only see native faces, but what about the expats? I read somewhere (an expat wrote it) people can’t go there because of all the Cambodians. Now that is odd, isn’t it? What’s he doing here?
Here is a picture of the parking lot when we left the beach at 4 pm. It is not as full as on International New Year and the evening people hadn’t come yet, but nevertheless, it is a sign of incipient affluence, as limited as it may be and regardless of what the SRP makes you believe, but it is a sign nonetheless.
An American journalist wrote a book about Cambodia. Now the stupidest sentence I read was that Cambodians don’t smile. He was here in 2008. I am wondering where he went. But he should have seen the faces of the people at the beach or of the young people who pelted passing motorcycles with little water bombs. Besides that, the book is reportedly full of inaccuracies, though it also contains some detailed accounts of how the rich got rich in Cambodia. But any interested person knows that already. He even made the news on Bayon TV. Needless to say, he got blasted.
Speaking of the opposition, Sam Rainsy made headlines again in April. On one occasion he likened the CPP leadership with the Khmer Rouge, saying land expropriation occurs in a similar fashion now as during the KR period. Although the CPP spokesman dismissed this as remarks from a man who now knows he can never return to his homeland, I am sure they irked the mentioned people inside anyway. Someone said Sam Rainsy acts now exactly like his father who had become disillusioned with Sihanouk’s rule and spoke out against the king. We know the result. He mysteriously disappeared. SR has practically become a non-person anyway, which may render the same result. Let’s face it he is no Nelson Mandela who came back from political prison and led the nation to independence.
The other item with which he got into the news was his rejection of Kem Sokha’s party merger plans. He is right in that instance, of course. As mentioned in a previous post, Kem Sokha must be suffering from some sort of delusion. He must somehow be completely disconnected from the real world.
On another and non-political note, I heard from a friend there is a new development going up in SHV. The company BS Holiday Villa and Condominiums is selling weekend cottages starting at $15,000. I couldn’t believe it. It is supposedly located about one kilometer from the beach. That I wanted to see for myself. So one day I drove around looking for that development.
After some inquiries I found the Villa and Condo compound. Here is the entrance and what the smaller villas look like.
The price tags, however, started at $125,000. The location is anything but prime land. Following the road to Otres Beach you turn left instead of right at the junction to Otres Beach. The road goes up the hill a little and there it is. The rear of one side of the villas faces the sea, but the other one has no view at all. Next to it is an empty lot, which is intended for those weekend cottages, indeed starting at $15,000 for a simple wooden contraption, up to $60,000 for a more elaborate cottage. Again, the location simply sucks. That money buys you a lot of weekend hotel rooms outside the big holidays. I am not sure how many takers for the villas or for the cottages they corralled. Maybe I am too negative in my assessment of the situation, but to me this looks like another failed investment. I don't know what the "BS" stands for, though.
But I also thought the 300,000 or so ‘flat houses’ in Phnom Penh were a flop, and many of them were. That doesn’t keep one company from starting one new development after another in the Phnom Penh Thmey section of town (the Borei New Worlds).
Further up that road in SHV I spotted another one of those in my mind absolutely non-sensical developments. The picture speaks for itself. I didn’t bother to check the prices.