Thursday, December 19, 2013

2. "New Star Shoes Co., Ltd.", Sihanoukville

When I came in to Sihanoukville on Highway 4 yesterday I noticed an unusual, tall and unsightly building on the left of the road, neighboring a large factory. It looked like a dormitory of sorts, and the fact that it didn't has any windows caught my eye. Another feature was the obviously added three upper stories which don't seem to fit the original design, maybe were illegally added, or added legally, after the respective bribes were paid to the building officials. I made a mental note that I would ride back to the location an check it out today.

And that is what I did today.

"New Stars Shoes" is a Chinese company which produces all kinds of brand sport shoes, among them (Japanese) ASICS for the U.S. market. It seems to employ more than 1000 under-aged workers at this loaction, almost all of them very young girls, and according to several sites on the Internet several death have occurred recently among its workforce.

The building is symmetrical and composed of two external rows of back-to-back rooms, all of the window- and air-conditioner-less. Separated by two internal corridors is an additional inner row of rooms. Access to all of those is by an external corridor which is reached by a single staircase.

Considering my very approximate estimate that the building might house more than 2,000 workers, one single staircase would be an entirely insufficient means of rescue in case of an emergency.

Three added  stories on top are most likely for open, undivided sleeping halls, maybe for lower-paid workers. The fact that they don't seem to fit the overall design isn't just a concern in terms of architectural taste but should be seen in front of the backdrop of the recent collapse of an added-on mezzanine floor of "New Wing Shoe Co., Ltd." on the outskirts of Phom Penh. Several death occurred there early this year, although accurate numbers are not released.

Top three dormitory floors illegally/or "legally"added  (after corrupting officials)
I am positive.

Shift change at 12 noon.

Everybody in Cambodia, especially girls, smile at you wherever you go. Not these, they are preoccupied with the upcoming shift. It may quiet well be cruelling work.

Monk collects money from the new shift going to work in return for his blessings.

On a more uplifting note:

Sihanoukville is also home of Cambodia's largest brewery, "Angkor", company name: CAMBREW, which produces also Bayon and other brands, All beers brewed in Cambodia are very good, and dirt cheap (in fact all alcohol, ranging from original Tennessee whisky to French cognac, or French wine is VERY inexpensive, compared, for example, to Thailand, where all imports are taxed very heavily.) The brewery offers once a week a brewery "tour", which is not really a tour, but one hour of free speed-drinking in their German-themed beer hall. The day was yesterday. Next Wednesday I will be already in Phnom Penh. Oh, well, I guess I have to paid the 50 cents for a half-liter mug at a bar.

"Angkor: beer trucks in front of brewery.

Inexpensive are also mobile phone SIM cards ($2.00) and unlimited monthly data (Internet/calling) plans. It cost me another three dollars on top of the SIM card. In comparison, what do U.S. mobile phone companies do with all the money they are squeezing out of us, I wonder?

What else? The motorcycle is mud-free again and clean!

I think it is advantageous in Cambodia when your SUV has one of these in the windshield.

Still life with helmet.

He brushed the thread pattern of the dirt tires! The whole wash took 1.5 HOURS (!)

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