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but still part way in asia

we are back in the USA, time cut short by a family emergency. the airline (american airline) let us change our trip date for a $100 fee each, a wonderful travel agent on golden street in PP set up our new agenda and a flight from PP to bangkok for the next morning, and we were able to fly from phnom penh to bangkok to hong kong to LA, then on to albuquerque: a long 38 hour day, beginning at 6 am on wednesday and landing at 5 pm on the same wednesday...

still thinking a lot about asia, especially about cambodia... about the farmers in the villages, living on the food they grow and maybe a dollar a day in what they can sell. about the insecurity of life under a government that allows the big fish to swallow the little fish - that allows eviction, not just in the cities, but also in the country... kheang and Don wonder if the grass land beyond their home will become a brickyard, wonder if they will be evicted to make room for a factory.

thinking about the crowd of woman we saw on lunch break as our bus came through the outskirts of phnom penh - all young, rushing to the food stalls before going back to work in the garment factories. the garment workers make a mandated $60 a month for a 44 - 48 hour work week, before overtime which can raise the salary to $80. strikes in 2010 demanding more, but no real changes. Bangladesh workers get less, the threat is that the work will move there. maybe 360,000 garment workers, sending remittances home to the villages, 1.6 million people getting a bit of money. though some of the women say they can barely live on their salaries, nothing left over to send home...

who produces in cambodia? gap, h&m, nike, adidas, walmart, banana republic...

garment production is 70% of export income, #3 in overall income after agriculture and tourism.

the garment industry factories are mainly on the edges of phnom pehn, close to the port, not so close to the villages... what happens to the workers in a couple of years? mostly young girls are employed in the garment industry, the minimum age for employment is 15 in cambodia...

cambodia is about at the bottom of the list for corruption and human rights abuses... - not much gets through the elite and government down to the populace.. and in my experience, the people are some of the nicest, friendliest, most welcoming i have met..

back now in the US. do i appreciate our freedoms? oh yes. do i miss the intensity of the asian markets, the crazy but easily available transportation, the incredible fresh and tasty food? oh yes. so much more of the country to experience, hope we do get to return someday.

Posted by danydena 19:05

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