vendredi 6 juin 2014

CAMBODIA: AN EYEFUL FOR AN ANTHROPOLOGIST

I was recently in Siem Reap and fondly recollected the first visits in 2002 and 2003, when it was but a village with very few amenities.
there has been explosion in tourism to Angkor and the disorganized growth has given rise to an urban landscape which belies description. Along with the back packers and well healed tourists for whom 5 star hotels are available, there has been many cultural intrusions. 
When you see so many Indian restaurants in the tourist part of town, you know that, most European tourists know something or other about Indian food whereas most of them would be ignorant of Khmer cuisine.
As expected, the place is full of Pizza and Sphagetti and Hamburger joints and there are bars and loud music shop after shop.
It was interesting to see a cultural mixing, borrowing without understanding, thus to borrow a famous phrase: less exotic than out of date.
But for an anthropologist, it is a stimulation to the mind, to follow it up with conversations, if the interest is picked.
A few photographs to illustrate what is happening to the innocent village of Siem Reap. Not all changes are bad, the Japanese addition would bring up the low levels imposed by mass tourism.
 Two cross cultural couture: One shabby, another elegant 
 End of Sivatha  Road in Siem Reap near the River
 The River Siem Reap 
 Money and Evangelists from Malaysia mainly but with Wahabi money, has become influential amongst the Cham of Cambodia who now could be seen sporting Moslem Gear. Outwardly they have changed but inwardly they remain the same

 A Khmer young lady dressed as a South Indian working in a South Indian Restaurant, simply called The Indian, just opposite the Hospital 
 With all the intrusion of the Western Tourism, we might be tempted to forget that Khmer are deeply Buddhist
A japanese NGO boutique, I wish there were more of these: good quality, helpful, useful products for the visitors and an income for the poor locals.