Random Thoughts by Dave – Rock Music and Filling Up
-Cambodia is in desperate need of Jack Black’s services. Black needs to bring the School of Rock to Cambodia, a place sorely lacking in rock education. My office mate plays guitar and is actually quite good. But the songs he knows are ones that have been around since the 1960s. I’ve heard him play Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harem and El Condor Pasa by Simon and Garfunkel as if they were made yesterday. Had he heard of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Curt Cobain? No, no, no, no, no. I quickly went to YouTube to find the video of Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar with his teeth, Pearl Jam’s Jeremy video and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Sure, it prevented him from actually doing his work helping people, but I don’t see how the Cambodian culture can move forward until they know the gospel of Eddie Vedder. I could say a smart entrepreneur could figure out a way to make money off of this, but Cambodians have little discretionary income, and what they do have should probably go to some place more productive. So Jack Black, get your ass out here. You don’t need the money!
-Rolling blackouts are a way of life in Phnom Penh. When the lights go out at our office, the guitar comes out. Here is a “video” of my office mate playing the guitar and another woman from the office singing a Cambodian song. site performance . Yes, I realize you can’t see anything from the video, it was taken during a bloody blackout. Just listen.
-One of the lessons we learned in our orientation before coming to Cambodia is that you need to be open to seeing things from another person’s perspective, not just your own. Jill and I both find the driving situation here absolutely insane. But put a Cambodian driver in what we would think is a more “sane” driving environment and they become equally as flustered. A friend told us a story about a Cambodian woman riding a bike in the Netherlands who was absolutely terrified because people were driving so fast. She was in what we would think would be a relatively safe situation, but had to stop riding her bike every time a car drove by. She explained that in Cambodia there is a method to the madness and drivers all know what the others are doing. So the next time you can’t fathom why someone is doing what they’re doing try to remember you don’t know the entire story.
-Though there are many gas stations in the city and rural areas, many people fill up their motos at roadside stalls that litter the roads. The outdoor mini marts have liter sized, old soda bottles filled with gas. The motos pull up and someone from the storefront fills them up in about a minute. I figured drivers went there because it was the easiest and most convenient way to get gas, but as usual, there’s another side to the story. It turns out a lot of gasoline is smuggled into Cambodia, this article says as much as 35%, because gas is so much more expensive here than other neighboring countries. As our Tuk Tuk driver pointed out this weekend, the gas at these establishments is cheaper because there are no taxes, ie: the gas is smuggled. As far as I can tell, there’s no one trying to stop this, we watched someone deliver huge jugs of gas to a roadside stall while we were sitting there.
-I brought my Camelbak on our trip and it has come in handy a few times. The one interesting thing is that no one in these parts has ever seen one. I had it on the other day while we were on a bike ride in a fishing village in rural Cambodia when our guide asked if I wanted some water. I pointed to the tube coming out of the pack to indicate I had water and saw the village people looking at it curiously, so I took the water bladder out to show them how it worked. We left and I think I said to Jill that they’ll probably be talking about that magic backpack for years. Turns out, they told our guide it looked like something a baby would use. So much for them talking about me for years to come.
Thanks for tuning in this week. You can catch up on any random thoughts you’ve missed here.