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By Kristin Trapp

Cambodia’s lack of urbanism was a lot easier to see than I had imagined it would be.  As I was walking through the dirt streets of Cambodia I quickly realized there was not going to be any markings or buildings that showed any sign of transnational or vernacular urbanism.  To my utter shock and amazement there was not even a McDonalds.  I then decided to look a little closer at some of the dimensions of the cultural flow including ethnoscapes, mediascapes, and finanscapes most of them were non-existent. 

            Ethnoscapes are the ways tourists, immigrants, refugees and guest workers move about a city.  Observing this was a little challenging because there were not that many tourists in most of the cities, but at the more popular temples there were bus loads of foreigners and tourists.  The population however consisted mostly of native Cambodians and I did not notice any other immigrants or refugees.  To travel as a tourist I felt it was relatively easy in some areas but not so easy in others.  The tourist destinations were covered with people that spoke English, the only problem was they were only interested in selling their merchandise.  Outside of the tourist attractions it was still fairly easy to get around even though most natives did not speak any English.  Still somewhat intrigued I looked to another dimension, for instance mediascapes.

            Mediascapes are the worldwide distribution of information through newspapers, magazines, TV program and films.  The best explaination of this is seen in article written by Elizabeth F. Vann “The Limits of Authenticity in Vietnamese Consumer Markets.”  The article mainly discusses the reasons that trade with Vietnam is not widely accepted in many countries due to the amount of counterfeit.  This was slightly harder to observe since there were not that many TVs, newspapers and magazines.  The only TVs I saw were in the hotels and they were in English, the newspapers were much easier to find because they were on most street corners but the only magazines that I saw were at the airport and they were about $7-$10 US dollars.  The mediascapes for Cambodia is definitely not a world wide distribution of information.  This brought me to my last dimension, finanscapes. 

            Finanscapes are the global capital flow.  Cambodia’s cities do not have a global capital flow.  The tallest building in all of Cambodia is only fifteen stories high.  The majority of the houses do not have air-conditioning and some of them do not even have indoor plumbing.  The streets were not paved and most of the side walk seemed to be paved with remnant pieces of concrete.  Cows were allowed to free graze, stray dogs ran rampant through the streets, definitely not the signs of and global city.  Cambodia was much different from any other countries that I have ever visited.  The most shocking observation I made was that there were “killing fields” in the middle of cities; some of them still had live land mines in them.  Nothing but the hotels appeared to be new and everything felt dirty and dingy. 

            Cambodia was a very humbling place to visit.  The lack of the basic amenities that home has to offer were greatly missed.  Not being able to drink the water, worry about diseases and every little bug bite was something that I am not accustomed to.  The history that Cambodia has it heartbreaking and the lack of resources for basic supplies was very troubling.  The governments control of technology makes improving oneself difficult and if it is not the lack of restrictions then it is a lack of resources.  I definitely had an eye opening experience and upon my departure I missed home in a way I never thought possible.   photo

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