Random Thoughts by Dave – Road Violations, Restaurant Inspections and a Congratulations
Jill and I are officially accessories to a Cambodian crime. On a recent trip into town our tuk tuk driver was pulled over for going the wrong way down a one-way street. It is fairly common for drivers to go the wrong way on a one-way street, but quite uncommon to have police waiting to pull over unsuspecting scofflaws. After getting stopped, our driver got off his moto and actually began arguing with the policeman. On what grounds, I’m not sure since the one-way sign was clearly marked. Ironically the police were hiding behind a Lexus SUV that was parked pointing the wrong way on the street. The driver took some money out of his wallet and tossed it toward the policeman, but he didn’t take it, either because it wasn’t enough or because he didn’t want us to see him taking a bribe. But there was no question a shakedown was taking place. Not wanting to wait for things to play out, we got out of the tuk tuk and walked to where we were going. expiration of domains I reluctantly gave the driver the agreed-upon fare, knowing there was a good chance the policeman would end up with it.
The healthcare system is very poor and quite expensive in Cambodia, another example of the government doing next-to-nothing for its citizens. Health insurance through work similar to the U.S.? Non-existent. So people with chronic illness routinely go to neighboring Vietnam for treatment and drugs that are much better and much less expensive. Yet, quite close to where I work is a fantastic hospital staffed with doctors from Thailand. The hospital was built by the son of Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Defense whose huge compound sits next to the hospital. But only the wealthy can afford to go there. Cambodia has had to re-build its stable of medical professionals after the Khmer Rouge killed most all of the country’s doctors (and most other professional and educated people) in the late 1970s.
A friend of ours owns a restaurant in Phnom Penh. We went to eat there the other day and got to talking about safety of the food here. He said in the four years he’s run the restaurant in its current location no health inspectors had visited the restaurant. “If we didn’t police ourselves, no one would,” he said. Message being, you might want to think twice about eating at a restaurant in Cambodia if it looks a little shady. We’ve also avoided street food, due to poor storage conditions for things like meat.
I received perhaps the best news of the trip here the other day when my colleague found out she was one of 12 people selected to participate in an international program with media professionals from Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. The program will be held in Phnom Penh, Bangkok and Jakarta throughout 2013 and is designed to help advance the careers of journalists from these developing countries. I’m most excited because I know how badly my colleague has been wanting to further her skills as a journalist and also because I had a small role helping her edit a few of her applications. So, congratulations Samath, I know you will take full advantage of what the program has to offer and will come back more determined to use your journalism skills to promote change in Cambodia.