The 21 workers, activists and union leaders who were arrested on January 2nd and 3rd during a violent crackdown (see HERE) by the army on a workers’ strike which also resulted in at least 4 being killed by bullets and numerous wounded, were being tried at the Appeals Court for a bail request. Only the lawyers were allowed in the courtroom, the 21 having been kept in their cells at the Kompong Chham prison.

The bail was refused.

The 21 will remain in jail…

UPDATED at 15:10 with additional photographs about the stand-off between riot police and protesters, disappointed by the verdict, who gathered at Preah Ang Dong riverside pagoda before attempting to march to the Royal Palace where they were dispersed by important forces of riot police…


Sunday in Cambodia

Breathe some fresh air, right Phnom Penh.
Just ten minutes on the ferry (from NagaWorld).
Rent a bike, grab some water, and prepare to hear a thousand and one smiling children call HELLOOOO.

(Source: loveservegive.blogspot.com)


I Want My Own Barista

 I worked as a barista for many years.  While, no longer employed in a café, I still sympathize with anyone in the profession.  No matter where I order my coffee or what condition it is in, I smile kindly, chat with, and sincerely thank the barista.  I realize that many would consider me a pushover, for not insisting my drink is perfect.  I choose to believe my barista did his or her best, and besides, a little pleasant conversation will improve any drink.  Recently, I decided I want my own barista.
I want a barista who will smile graciously at me when I walk into the café on my cell phone.  I want my barista to politely greet me, though I will carelessly avoid returning the pleasant greeting.  I expect my barista to address me in a calm, pleasant voice and to never be affected by my eye-rolling or otherwise ridiculously rude behavior.  I want my barista to patiently wait while I finish my enormously important phone call and ask the customers in the growing line behind me to calm down and “for heaven’s sake, practice a little patience”.  My barista will always put my needs before anyone else’s. 
My barista will know my precise expectations from the moment I walk into the café.  If, by chance, my barista needs a day off, he will train another barista who will gratefully undertake my numerous, but well-founded, desires and needs.  The barista responsible for me will know my name, my beverage, and the way I prefer my beverage  served.  My barista shall never write my name on my cup, I will not have Sharpie on my hands.  I am a professional, after all, not a junior-higher. 
My barista must know my beverage down to the exact temperature, weight, and presentation.  I expect consistency and I demand perfection.  I do not care how busy the café is, or how many others are waiting.  My drink is a Grande, five pump, whole milk, no foam, no whip, 140-degree mocha.  Let me tell you, I know when it is correct, and I know when it is not correct.
I now know that I must observe the process from start to finish or something will inevitably go wrong.  I attribute that tendency to the laziness of this current generation.  My barista must initially put the five pumps of chocolate in the cup, followed by two perfect espresso shots.  I am required to watch to ensure the barista stirs the chocolate into the espresso with a spoon or my so-called mocha is just a boring latte, with a clump of wasted chocolate on the bottom.  Don’t even try to tell me that swirling the cup is sufficient.  After he carefully and quickly stirs the espresso and chocolate, he must immediately add foam-free milk of just 140-degrees Fahrenheit. 
My barista knows he must then weigh my beverage.  If my beverage does not weigh exactly .544 kilograms, I assume my barista negligently allowed foam into the cup and this is, obviously, unacceptable.  I am paying for a sixteen ounce drink and I will not stand for some cheapskate company teaching their baristas to fill the cups with foam in order to save money on milk.  On a side note, I think cappuccinos and macchiatos were created solely for the purpose of ripping off the customer.  If it is the incorrect temperature, my barista will quickly and efficiently remake it.  If someone accidentally plops a tiny drop of whipped cream on my beverage, my barista will happily prepare another one.  If another barista accidentally fills the pitcher with two-percent milk, rather than whole milk, I will know as soon as I take the first sniff.  I will slam the cup onto the counter and demand a remake.  Now I will likely be late to meet my sister for CrossFit. 
My barista should be able to easily distinguish, by my apparel, whether or not I am on my way to work out.  If I am dressed for CrossFit, he should automatically prepare a Venti ice water for me.  When my barista forgets to take note of what I am wearing, I am forced to request my Venti ice water from the hand-off plane.  No matter how many drinks have been ordered behind mine, those customers will have to wait, while my barista stops to prepare a Venti ice water for me.
My barista will understand that when I hold up my finger, I expect him to drop whatever he is doing and focus only on me.  Whether I need to ask a simple question, demand additional stirring, or politely request that the disgusting floor be swept, I never interrupt unless is it important.  My barista will know I am really not that difficult to please and will always be delighted to serve me.  I am a paying customer after all, and this is America.  We have demands to be fulfilled, places to be, important meetings, and people to meet. 
I consider myself a true gift to these baristas.  I am an artist and a teacher.  I am showing them how to be meticulous, devoted, thoughtful, and consistent.  I know these are lessons they will be able to use in this job, as well as when they find “real” jobs in the future.  I want my barista to be incredibly grateful and even indebted to me for this selfless act I am doing. 
I want my own barista so I never have to worry about anything again while getting my morning coffee.  Life is difficult enough, why should I have to suffer first thing in the morning?  And one more thing, why the hell would I ever leave a tip?

(Source: loveservegive.blogspot.com)


ASEAN CommunityStatues of Buddha, Ayutthaya, Thailand


ASEAN Community
Statues of Buddha, Ayutthaya, Thailand

(Source: asean-community)


ASEAN CommunityTricycles, Philippines
Motorized tricycles are a common means of passenger transport everywhere in the Philippines, except on busy major highways and very busy city streets.


ASEAN Community
Tricycles, Philippines

Motorized tricycles are a common means of passenger transport everywhere in the Philippines, except on busy major highways and very busy city streets.

(Source: asean-community)

Millions of Americans Lose Consciousness : The New Yorker

Millions of Americans Lose Consciousness : The New Yorker


Journey to Koh Preah

These villages are hidden among the thousands of islands scattered throughout the vast waters of the Mekong. The Mekong River runs through Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and China, providing life and sustenance to millions of people. The Mekong’s waters can range from a pale blue to a light mud brown to a deep reddish-brown depending on several factors. These versatile waters remind me of the continual changes in both my life and my perspective. Our experiences change like the seasons. This results in a constant transformation of views, beliefs and perspective. For this I am forever thankful as stagnancy is for the boring, the ones who pretend to be content, the ones who fight change even until their final breath. 

After a grueling day-long bus ride, a night in a questionable guest house and the essential iced coffee with sweetened-condensed milk it is time to embark. The trip must be completed by boat. This boat is probably not the sleek and safe boat upon which many of us have willingly embarked. Rather, it is a long and narrow weathered wooden contraption filled with ants, splinters, and holes. The motor is in the stern where the captain can be seen balancing, navigating, and most often smoking. Throughout the ride we take turns grabbing anything we see to scoop out the water that quickly fills the floor of the boat. There are no life jackets, no emergency whistle, no Coast Guard to call if things go wrong. I cannot help but recall an article I read a few years ago. The Mekong is home to the world’s largest freshwater fish – the giant catfish which grows up to 660 pounds.

Upon arrival at the island of choice the captain soon becomes a navigator of another sort. After quickly but carefully tying up his main source of income and pride he grabs an ax, a machete and another cigarette from his shirt pocket and we set out through the jungle. The atmosphere changes in a heartbeat. Suddenly we are completely surrounding by luscious foliage. The air is dense but pure. The sounds are soothing; the vegetation containing. It is incredibly loud and I wish I could record every chirp, every croak to remember its harmony forever.

We reach our destination smiling and drenched - the village on Koh Preah, or Island of God. The ruddy red roads are in striking contrast to the otherwise lush, green surroundings. The village is located along the river. I do not know if the purpose of our jungle excursion was to make our welcome unforgettable or merely to avoid a certain area of the river which made it impossible to dock the boat near the village during this unpredictable flood-prone season.

At first glance the village does not disappoint. The bus ride, that could be better described as the roller coaster ride from hell, and everything else it took to get to this island from another time, was totally worth it. The pigs are rooting in the dirt while roosters are pecking at the ground belting out half-hearted crows that seem to stop midway. Are they simply too tired to complete the sentence? The children are much shyer than the city children. They are unaccustomed to unfamiliar, and especially white, faces. Their faces are grimy, their round brown eyes bright, their hellos animated and paired with smiles, their clothing consists of dirty and frayed partial school uniform and partial hand me down from anyone nearby.

The shacks built on stilts are spread out. I am not sure how many there are but all within walking distance. The buildings are sagging, the tin roofs rusted and often a board or tree is thrown on top to keep it in place. Each family has a table beneath their home and hammocks hanging down. Many of the families have a variety of animals outside, mostly chickens. The occasional “wealthy” village member has a pig or some oxen for plowing. Foliage is invading everything, but it is a welcome invasion. It provides a bit of relief from the extreme heat and harsh rain.

Every person offers a smile, cautious yes, but genuine. Life abounds here. Everywhere I turn I see large spiders, chicks pecking, massive banana flowers, sugar palms, coconut trees, delicious food, oxen plowing small rice fields, monks, and children in white shirts and blue pants or skirts. It is startling to see these kids so far from anywhere, dressing and scampering just like the rest of the country’s children. Though they may be without basic sanitation, reliable income, food, transportation and many other necessities, they are innocent and they are free. Their smiles do not bely poverty or any deficiency at all. They in fact seem more carefree than many children that have much more.

I meet Lim Sovannary, one of the village leaders. She is beautiful, in her tailored pants and high heels, a red and white striped beanie on her head. We share warm smiles. She sees visible areas on my neck and arms that have deep red bruises leftover from my recent “culture embracing experience.” Coining, similar to cupping, is a common remedy used throughout East Asia to cure many different aches and pains. It is painful, but it was worth the experience. Nary is speechless for a moment and then her face fills with joy. A barang (foreigner) who chooses to participate in local customs or even just speak a bit of the language is soon an insider here. She then cups my face in her callused brown hands and tells me I am beautiful (in Khmer, she speaks no English). Her smile alone is contagious. The rest of my time here I know I am one of the family. In a collectivist culture there is no hand-shaking and required small talk to build a relationship. You can make eye contact with and talk with anyone in this country without getting strange looks. But when you become a part of the family, there is nothing that family will not do for you.

Sleeping on the only bed in the wooden shack on poles (or below the shack on the hammock where it’s cooler), I consider where I am and who I am. These incredible people with no possessions, no savings, no “Western” hope for the future have more to give than I. They offer all that they have, the only bed, the only blanket. They prepare the finest food with the care of a brand new mother. They aim to please and do not fail.

Here I find humility, strength and courage. I find once again, that anytime you go somewhere or do something to “help” someone else it is usually you that ends up becoming stronger. It is usually you who receives the help.

Once again we board the dilapidated boat with our trusty navigator. On this return journey the magnitude of the river is difficult to ignore. The sky is incredibly deep, moody even. The clouds are potent. The colors are intense. Here the endless water and colorful sky meet. There is a vastness that takes my breath away and reminds me of my smallness. At some points I could look out without seeing the opposite shore. Sometimes we all must drawn in a sharp breath and remember our humanity. We must be reminded that it is better to give than to receive. We must somehow relearn that a smile is more valuable than gold; that friendship and genuineness outlast any material things.  Yes, even your precious iPhone 5.

(Source: loveservegive.blogspot.com)

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