Monday, September 24, 2012

Flooding: A year later

Last year on this day I posted comparison photos of the water level of the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh, showing a dramatic rise in the level between September 17 and September 24. Though there wasn't any flooding in Phnom Penh at the time, flooding was sweeping other parts of the country and getting worse by the day. The rapidly rising river in Phnom Penh hinted the capital city might be next.

This year is quite different. The rain has been much lighter and the rivers not filling as quickly as last year. There were near drought conditions in several provinces in the first months of this monsoon season, and though the rains have increased in recent weeks and there has been flooding in some western provinces, there is no comparison to last year. So far, 2012 is proving to be a comparatively dry year in Cambodia. Still, there is at least 6 weeks left in this year's monsoon season, there has been flooding in neighboring Thailand, and as last year's photos illustrate flood conditions can change quickly.

The photos below were taken from approximately the same spot on the Phnom Penh riverfront (Tonle Sap River,) exactly one year apart: 2011 on the left and 2012 on the right.

 River level comparison 2011/2012. Phnom Penh riverfront, Tonle Sap River. (Note the stair steps, particularly in the Sept 24 photos - 2 visible in 2011, 16+ visible in 2012.)

Today's observed water level of the Tonle Sap River at the Phnom Penh Port from the Mekong River Commission. See MRC Cambodia flood info at: MRC Cambodia

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where do your keep your pangolin?

Saw this (serious) story (The Curious Case of the Monkey in the Underpants) about some guy traveling with a monkey in his underwear and it reminded me of a post I made on the Lonely Planet Cambodia travel forum several years ago. I got several serious replies and a few admonishments. Only a couple got the joke. Someday somebody needs to invent a functioning [sarcasm][/sarcasm] mark-up.
Where do your keep your pangolin?
Like many travelers, I always travel with a pangolin. Last week at a $3 guesthouse in Siem Reap Cambodia, I had to go out just briefly and left my stuff there on the bed in the room, including my pangolin. When I returned, the pangolin and my $3500 camera were gone. The room was locked when I left and when I came back. There are no windows so only the guesthouse staff could have had access to the room through the locked door. When I confronted the manager, he insisted that it was "impossible" that any of his staff would steal my pangolin, and suggested that my pangolin had in fact stolen my camera, even implying that pangolins are prone to this sort of behavior. Well, there's no way. That pangolin has always traveled with me and has had plenty of earlier opportunities to steal my camera and lots more. Besides, how could it open the door to get out? With that prehensile tongue? I don't think so. The manager pled with me not to call the police and offered to give me the whole week in his guesthouse, plus dinners, for free, if I just wouldn't report it. Rattled by the loss of my pangolin, I accepted the offer. Here's my question: I know that Cambodians smile a lot. The country is known for its smiles. But every time they serve me my hamburger in the guesthouse restaurant, they don't just smile, but actually snicker, sometimes even laugh. Sometimes I even get the feeling that they are laughing at me. Am I just being paranoid?