Cambodia: Week 11

I have really enjoyed writing these weekly posts, but have found they take a bit more time than I would like. To give me more time to write about other things (like describing weeks 1-4 and 6-8), I will stick more to the highlights from the week.

Last week was a good week. It was a bit more balanced than the week before since I had more time in the office to read and write. I was in Phnom Penh Monday – Wednesday,I went into the field on Thursday and Friday,and was back in Phnom Penh over the weekend.

On Monday night, Tasha and I went to the Foreign Correspondence Club to watch the 2nd presidential debate. It was a nice venue, and the debate was entertaining, albeit, a bit distressing. I won’t go into my thoughts on the election here, but in short, my views are never-trump.


A view from the Foreign Correspondence Club.


I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the office looking into domestic sources of solar pumps. I also appreciated having time to review some of the notes I made during previous field trips.


A view from the top of the iDE office.

While on the way back from my visit to the commercial solar company Solar Parners Asia on Tuesday, I passed by the Office of Council of Ministers and the Peace Palace.


The Chinese flags outside really confused me until, it eventually dawned on my that Xi JinPing was visiting Cambodia last week. I guess, for the $75 million of debt forgiveness that he gave to Cambodia, they figured they should put up some flags.

On Thursday I headed back out into the field. Probably the most exciting thing about the visit was driving through the gnarled roads.

With all the rain, there has been some flooding. I think its only a matter of time before this section of road gets totally washed away.

I captured a particularly fun moment in the video above. We were employing a concept I learned in baby STEMs at HMC. If you drive faster on a bumpy road, it feels less bumpy.

There get to be some big holes in the road.

The potential downside of using increased speed to reduce the bumps is that when you hit a bigger rut, you have a higher likelihood of losing control, which did happen once. We didn’t hit anything, but got close. One particular rut push us towards the right ditch, and the regional agronomist driving over-corrected pointing us directly towards someone’s fence and house. Luckily, we came to a stop before getting too close, but it was pretty scary, I will admit. We were driving a little bit slower after that incident. :)

On Thursday, we visited two farms as potential locations for the solar pump trial. I then sat in on a provincial meeting of all the commercial agronomists in Prey Veng province. Later in the evening, I joined them for their team dinner.

Friday morning consisted of a training session of the agronomists on fertilizers and soil testing. I enjoyed seeing how the training was conducted.

One our way back, we got to drive through the floodwaters again.

The kids seemed to be enjoying the water as they were swimming and splashing about.

I couldn’t pass up some quality photos of rice fields.


Tasha spent Wednesday to Friday on a field visit in Kampong Thom province. In addition to getting a good picture of a rainbow, she gained some valuable insights into how rural Cambodia’s view solar power.

Tasha found a rainbow!

On Saturday, we ran some errands in the afternoon and spent the evening with our hosts. We had some crab and shrimp at home and then headed to this restaurant/concert hall for some drinks.

I was told that Han Sen’s (Cambodia’s head of government and the longest serving head of government in SE Asia) daughter is a c0-owner of the place, which explains why it is so ostentatious and potentially unprofitable.

Still, I did really enjoy the singing! It was a mix of Cambodian, English, and Thai songs. A Thai company is another co-owner, which is why they have Thai songs as well.


The photo is a bit blurry. I think you’re supposed to spit into it? It’s like urinal for spit.

On Sunday, we finally got massages. There is parlor on our block, it was only $8 for an hour-long massage. Needless to say, we plan to make it a regular thing. In the afternoon, we went to the German cultural center to watch the documentary A River Changes Course. The documentary follows three Cambodian families as they deal with changes like urbanization, stresses from population growth, deforestation, over-fishing, and changes in weather from climate change. I really enjoyed getting a deeper picture into the lives of these Cambodian families. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand the challenges that most people in the developing world face.

Next week, I’ll spend almost the entire week in the field. I head to Takeo province to test the solar pump on a 1,000 square meter plot and then from Wednesday to Friday I will be in Kanal and Prey Veng provinces installing the solar pump for the permanent trial. I’m looking forward to it.



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