Saturday, July 26, 2008

Winning teams

Election fever hots up today as it is now only one day until the National Elections on Sunday. Yesterday was the last day of campaigning. People today are taking down posters.

The British Embassy sent a letter to me about 2 months ago advising to keep away from political rallies etc but I have heard nothing since –Its existence is not even on its website.... Filipino colleagues on the other hand have been issued with a special ID number, have been told to keep their passports on them at all times and have packed emergency bags on Embassy advice in case they have to leave the country in a hurry. Nice to see the UK government is taking care of me.

I am little hazy as to where my passport is, have not prepared a bag and have little recollection as to who my insurance company is.... ummm.

Hun Sen, the present Prime Minister, and his party are pretty much bound to succeed. If they lose it will be chaos... but the likelihood of that happening is slim to say the least.

Things outside look/sound normal at the moment I can hear the click sound of the shuttlecock being kicked from one security guard to the other. Every male with time on their hands here appears to love the game commonly known as “keepie-upie” – Obviously, a ball being kept up in the air.

In Cambodia a group of males form a circle and kick about a shuttlecock and do it for hours. The sound it makes is part of daily life as is the sound of the call of the guys who come past with their recycling carts - a persistent squeak (think dog/baby toy sound created from a old washing up bottle and some sort of squeaky device!). I think that they practice so much they can go to the riverside and join the elite squad of “Sigh” teams (Khmer for keepie-upie) who get massive crowds watching them each night.

These “sigh” teams are probably given a higher social status here than the Cambodian Olympic team which consists of 4 men. Recently there was an article in the local newspaper explaining how they could not really afford trainers because the government was not helping them and their wage is only $50. Barely enough to survive let alone buy elite sports kit and pretty tough when your sport is long distance running. I think a large international bank stepped in and after the media focus the government has give an “appropriate” bonus of $600. You can see more at: It tells of one athletes problems in training – sleeping at the crumbling stadium here in a dormitory, having to train with other Cambodians “exercising” on the running track (invariably women in pyjamas – speed walking at a slow speed) and having to train on the roads (one is a marathon runner) in a country where drivers have no problem running you over and leaving you on the road for dead....

BBC picture of the Olympic hopeful in his dormitory

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