Published: August 13th 2012August 13th 2012
Pride of Cambodia
Pitcher of Angkor for $1.75. The owner of this fabulous brew owns one of the biggest villas in the city. It rivals the White House in size and security.
Last week was flat out tough. You don't do something like this to sit around and wait for something to happen, yet that's how I felt all week. All of the work designing the Master's and Ph.D. programs was pretty much finished and awaiting approval from the Ministry of Education. Yes, the government must approve new academic programs even those of a private university. And of course there is a hefty fee for doing so. I'm discovering those who approve our academic programs know precious little about education so they come up with some rather perplexing regulations. Just one example is Ph.D. students are required to submit their dissertation proposal as part of their entry into a doctoral program. I can think of no good reason for such a regulation other than to dissuade potential students from pursuing a Ph.D. to begin with. Who knows what they are going to choose as a dissertation topic before they do any coursework in a Ph.D. program? Before you get too self-righteous about how absurd this is consider education policy in the state of Texas. Nuff Sed!
I am also supposed to be designing a certificate program for middle and senior level people
Special Menu Items
We got your cow's stomach here! How would you like yours cooked?
in business, public sector and not for profit sectors. I did a draft of such a program but can’t get anyone at the university to tell me how to price or market it. That creates a bit of a problem for student recruitment. So I set and wait for someone to work with me on this. I don’t think it is intentional on anyone’s part but everyone seems so overloaded with work—at least the people who could actually help you make something happen. This weekend I found out that I’ll be given three sections of Logic and Critical Thinking to teach next semester (starting end of August). I was also offered a course in cultural anthropology but having never taken a single course in anthropology I decided to spare students of my learning curve. I’d like to think I have some experience with logic and critical thinking having spent 12 years in academic environments but I think recent events in my life could call this into serious question. I may have trouble selling the logic of abandoning peak earning years to uproot and move half way around the world where I know virtually no one, don’t understand the culture, don’t
Important Governmental Functions
If I was President I'd do away with three departments the day I take office. And they would be....uh, ah, hmmm. I don't remember what they are right now but I know they aren't needed.
speak the language and earn about 1/6 of my previous salary! This class will help me to explore my own critical thought processes a little deeper. Maybe I should have checked with the Suze Orman Show’s “Can I Afford It” segment before buying my mid-life crisis. Surely a little red sports car would have been a lot cheaper! I’m seriously excited to get into the classroom and create rich learning environments where students can learn from one another about things that impact their real lives. My work with Houston A+ and ALF over the years has really impacted the way I will create my classroom and it is entirely counter cultural and a bit radical for Cambodia. Students here are very passive learners but I’m hypothesizing it is only because instructors make very little attempt to engage them in any meaningful way.
The other great thing to happen this week was the arrival of my new housemate, Sam, from the U.S. I’ve worked with Sam in Colorado the last couple of summers on ALF programs. He’s a fairly recent graduate from Texas State who will be teaching at our middle/high school in Phnom Penh. It is Sam’s first time
Phenom Penh Architecture
New western style condos are being added every day. Here is an example of some nice high end accommodations. It's impossible to get a photo shot without the ubiquitous overhead wires running every direction.
in Asia but amazing to me how quickly he’s adapting. He arrived on Wednesday at noon and went to work on Thursday. He’s out making Khmer friends, singing karaoke and made his first major purchase of a bike this weekend. Sam is an avid biker back in the U.S. so it’s a little funny to see him peddling around on this bike that looks like it belonged to Auntie ‘Em in the Wizard of Oz, complete with a basket for Toto on the front. He was riding it home from the second hand store and blew out a tire. Even with that he almost beat me home and I was riding on a moto bike. I doubt that bike had ever been ridden quite like that. I’m surprised the entire frame didn’t fly apart. Still, I think it will be a good $30 investment once he gets his tire fixed. The other exciting event from the weekend was discovering the “Super Cheap” warehouse store. Super Cheap is a wine, beer and liquor warehouse. Sam’s eyes (the recent Texas State grad) light up like Christmas morning upon walking into the Super Cheap! Imagine a mini-Costco with floor to ceiling beer, wine
Social Benefit Enterprise
You see these kinds of businesses all the time, particularly in restaurants. There is a developing sense of giving back in the community. I think this started with the NGO communities but you see lots of coffee shops and small locally owned businesses that also give back to the community in some way. Kudos!
and liquor! I bought a case of Angkor beer for about .40/can. This is cheaper than bottled water here. Sam bought a liter bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey for $12 so we had a lovely Sunday afternoon on the balcony eating chicken fried rice and enjoying the low alcohol import tax environment of Cambodia.
Speaking of chicken fried rice—I had been avoiding buying meat since I got here. I love the fresh shrimp and squid and have been feasting on that as well as the bounty of fresh veggies and fruit. This weekend I worked up enough courage to have my very own chicken killed fresh at the market. It makes perfect sense that if you don’t have refrigeration you leave your meat on foot for as long as possible. The chickens are a fraction of the size of our hormone and antibiotic fed birds at home but it all cooked up pretty tasty in the end. I’ll post a few of the delectable off a hole in the wall restaurant menu where I like to frequent. Nothing like a good “frog grilled salt and chilli” to make your meal and who knew there were so many ways to
Signs of Change
Awareness of women and child slavery and sexual abuse are growing. This sign is on the back of a tuk-tuk with a number where you can call to report abuse. It is great to see a growing consciousness and a message to tourists to beware.
prepare cows stomach! If you do get tired of Khmer food there are lots of choices ranging from Steve’s Greek Steakhouse to Punjab Indian Cuisine, and of course “Happy Pizza” which you can order regular style or laced with pot. I asked one of the guys who rented my extra room a couple of weeks ago if he got high from eating the Pizza. He said he wasn’t sure because he was so drunk he couldn’t tell. But, with all the choices Khmer food is the least expensive and some of the best. There are a few restaurants around that operate as non-profits to train young street children for work in fine dining environments. These are great concepts and they offer up some of the best food in great surroundings at a very good price.
I find myself very much looking forward to the fall. I think work will pick up a lot and I won’t feel so much existential angst. The weather will continue to cool moving toward the end of the year and I have several things to look forward to. My longtime friend, Patrick Flaherty, is relocating from Beijing to Bangkok at the end of September
Answer to the Greek economic crisis
What do you do if your own country's economy is in collapse? You go to Cambodia and open an ethnic restaurant! I don't know that this is the story behind Steve's Greek Restaurant but there is a Spanish Tapas bar about 1/2 block from here. Hmmm, maybe the Portuguese, Irish and Icelanders are soon to follow.
so we will most certainly plan a get together weekend either here or there shortly after. My dear friend Mary from Houston is coming to spend Thanksgiving in the Kingdom and right after that I leave for back to back programs in Singapore and India. I’m home a week until Jeff and his mom, Janet, arrive in Bangkok for the Christmas Holidays. We’ll spend one week together in Thailand and one in Cambodia. Somewhere in all that coming and going my friend Nory is coming for a visit and shortly after New Year’s I’m planning on a trip home to Houston for a week of work with clients. I hope at least a few of my readers will plan a trip to SE Asia in 2013. I’d be honored to play tour guide.
Last thought for now is about my son Jeff as he starts fall semester at Texas State. Good Luck, Son, I love you and know you’re going to do great!