Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ghost town

A disabled beggar was the only person on Golden Street at lunchtime today. I can see just 1 solitary tuk-tuk, when usually there are 15+.
Okay so the streets aren't completely empty over Khmer New Year, there are still a handful of people left in Phnom Penh but the two streets shown here are normally choked with people and vehicles at most times of the day. Golden Street or 278 to give it its real number, and Street 63 are popular and busy thoroughfares in Boeung Keng Kang 1 district. They also happen to be fairly close to my home. A few 'barang' restaurants are open in BKK1 too, which were doing a roaring trade today.
Street 63 at midday is usually a hive of activity and full of traffic. A solitary tuk-tuk and a couple of motos are kings of the road today.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Tradition lives on

Some of the Hanuman team watching the traditional Robam Trot performance
At the Hanuman office a few minutes ago we enjoyed one of the traditional New Year's ceremonies called Robam Trot, which originates from Stung Treng and involved youngsters from the Cambodian Light Children's Association orphanage. Dressed up in traditional costumes, they symbolized chasing away any bad spirits and bringing prosperity by re-creating the hunting of a deer. Perhaps not politically correct but its a tradition and something we do at Hanuman every year. Over the last few nights music and laughter has been ringing out til late at night in the streets surrounding my house with traditional games such as Angkunh, Leak Kanseng, Chhoung and Dandoeum Sloek Chhoeu being played by groups of boys and girls, who've also formed dance circles until midnight. For much of next week the city will be like a ghost-town with everyone disappearing to their home villages across the country.
The introduction of two beautiful girls with very long fingertails was welcome
It was a tight fit for the ceremony, held at the front door of the Hanuman offices


Friday, April 10, 2009

Keeping with tradition

Performance over, the youngsters board their tuk tuk for the next show
Youngsters from the Cambodian Light Children's Association orphanage enter Hanuman HQ
Getting into the swing of the Khmer New Year early doors, Hanuman presented two ceremonies today for their staff, with a ritual prosperity and peace blessing by monks at the traditional arts shop this morning, and this afternoon, the youngsters from the Cambodian Light Children's Association orphanage made their annual appearance at the tourism offices to perform the Robam Trot. This involved dressing up in traditional garb, collecting small denomination riel notes, then symbolically chasing away bad spirits and bringing luck and prosperity for the new year by the hunting of a deer, played by a very small boy. The group of children then carried on their merry way, by tuk tuk, to their next performance. Elsewhere around town, you can see groups of youngsters and twentysomethings enjoying themselves by playing traditional games late into the night, often accompanied by loud music. The games usually involve boys chasing girls or vice versa and the games include Angkunh, Leak Kanseng, Chhoung and Dandoeum Sloek Chhoeu. In fact, the Khmer staff at the office this lunchtime, all joined in a game of 'catch the young chicken,' called Kleng Chab Kun Meann in Khmer.
Traditional costume is all part of this folk ritual
This sack on a pole is used to collect money from the audience
The youngsters this year were much smaller than last year, dressed as a deer, peacock and so on - the death of the deer is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity - seems a little harsh to me