Sunday, January 12, 2014

25. A lazy Sunday in Battambang

The second most populated town in Cambodia

The French colonial architecture in this town is just lovely.

The designs are also wonderfully adapted to the climate.

French-designed railway station (Abandoned, architect unknown).

Here the time is always 8:02.

Simple, yet clear and effective environmental design. See the clerestories for natural ventilation.

Me and my Battambang bicycle.

Arcades and shophouses on 2 1/2 Street.

Typical French-designed corner buildings, Phnom-Penh-style.

Former cinema, closed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, never reopened.

"Double facade", made of concrete louvers for shading purposes.

Paris Hotel.

I found the local camera repair shop and had to stop and chat with the owner, of course. There is a black, full, solid-brass body of a NIKON FE2, fully functional, which, together with a working 1:3.5/43-86mm NIKKOR zoom lens would be $60, without negotiation. Hmmm? Shall I? I have to discipline myself, I guess.

The shop is interesting, though.

Back to architecture of the French-colonial, Protectorate times.
These are the elements being used:
  • The arcade. An arcade provides a shaded area in front of the street oriented businesses at ground level; it also is a convenient way to walk during the heavy downpours of the rainy season. In the hot season, the cantilevered space of the arcade shades the open-air shop-front and the exhibited merchandise.
  • The façade shading device. Louvers made of concrete are placed in front of windows, or the entire actual façade to provide shade, reducing the thermal load on the buildings enclosure surfaces. The louvers also create interesting and changing patterns of shadow which creates depth to the façade.
  • The clerestory. This is an opening or openings at higher elevations within a building to provide natural ventilation. The hot air is removed from within a buildings space by thermal buoyancy rather than by mechanical means. The upper story clerestories are very effective in cooling down a tall interior space. They may be designed as windows, louvers, or just holes within the façade.
  •  The balcony walkway. Rather than accessing the different units of a buildings by internal corridors, hallways are placed on the outside of buildings, “motel-style”-like. They create shadow to the façade behind, similar to a faced shading device.

Glue sniffing kid.

Abandoned railroad shop building, now home to squatters and kids without family support.

The last train stopped here before the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

Glue sniffing kid.

Sniffing kids.

The local, French-designed railway station hadn't had a train stopping here in a very long time. Now the tracks are overgrown, the buildings and repair halls are abandoned. Everywhere in this country infrastructure needs a huge shot of support injected in the arm.

The simple, yet beautiful French-designed train station is now home to a “family”, or group of youngsters who grow up without a real family. They were abandoned by their parents at very young age due to a lack of money to raise them, and now live a life beyond the norm or the little law otherwise felt in this country. Some of their faces are strikingly beautiful, but inside there is nothing, no life, no feelings, no response. They spend their days sniffing glue. On my bicycle ride to dinner today, I saw some of them, very young, lying at the edge of the street, passed out, at first sight looking like a parcel of dirty rags. I assume that they will die at a very young age.

And the weddings! A loud, colorful and orchestrated affairs! As mentioned before: There are many weddings currently. Below you see images of the wedding singers, the bride, groom, and the whole affair.

And finally, some more images of street life. Below somebody gets ready for a big trip, maybe to Phnom Penh, below that, a beggar, one of the many.

Ready for the big trip.

The red balloon.

Like in most of Southeast Asia people typically don't cook at home. Food is readily available everywhere. You order at a street stall, within minutes it is ready to be taken home.

Evening aerobics, just as in Phnom Penh.

This lady and her daughter, maybe, reminded me of my mom and myself.

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