The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Was The Last Time You Saw Something For The First Time?
January 30, 2008, 7:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Have a look out your window … look up … look down … look into the distance … can you imagine how different your environment would be without skyscrapers? 

Would you still feel you were in a city?

Would you still think you were in the modern age?

The reason I write this is because in Cambodia, they have just unveiled the first of 3 skyscrapers they plan to build … the first that will appear in their capital. EVER.

This is a big thing for the country – not just because it shows Cambodia is worthy of foreign investment [especially when most organisations seem obsessed with China and India] – but because it provides the people of Phnom Penh with undeniable proof their country/city is progressing.

I know a while back I wrote that neon signs made cities feel big and vibrant but I was wrong – it’s skyscrapers – because without them, what you end up with is Grimsby on a cold, rainy November night.


19 Comments so far
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It might seem obvious to link the building of skyscrapers with a countries economic prosperity, but what I like about this post is that you also understand how it is significant from the point of view of cultural development.

As India and China start to price themselves out of the market for the more modest of foreign investors, places like Cambodia should prosper significantly; though they will face fierce competition from other “second tier” developed countries.

This could be particulary dangerous as Governments may be forced to accept deals that have short term gains but ultimately place the economy under great stress further down the line. Maybe everyone should read your blessed “Economic Hitman” book?

Comment by Lee Hill

It’s these sort of things that I miss about Asia. That sense you’re witnessing a nation growing up and moving forward.
Then I remember how frustrating it was for me working there and I get over it 🙂

Comment by Pete

I think I’ve spent more time in Cambodia, Burma and Laos than most people who drop by here and I can say that while a skyscraper is something the people will feel proud of. It won’t be too long before people will realise that a capital city without skyscrapers is the hallmark of real grandeur. If all we ever measure is economic growth. Where are the milestones for spiritual growth and cultural growth? I’m reasonably sure that skyscrapers tend to crush those values out as I wrote about in my last post when describing why Luang Prabang is special.

I’ll go one step further. We’re choking on growth and developing nations like Cambodia aren’t mature enough to know it.

Comment by Charles Frith

Hello Charles, great comment and one that takes this post into a much better – and more important – direction.

Whilst economic growth is vital for countries [from developing basic infrastructure to creating an environment where individuals can flourish] without doubt, the resulting effect is that often the spiritual values of the community are pushed aside in favour of individual selfishness.

Of course not everyone reacts this way nor does it guarantee hell and damnation – but you just have to see how Singapore is changing/developing [delete as approrpiate] to appreciate it’s power in changing the delicate fabric of society.

I actually have a post about this ‘effect’ which I need to put up, but something I find really interesting is how the values of society start to change once the ‘effect’ has been established.

If I take Singapore for example … we now have a society that has become slaves to material possesion – regardless of their personal financial circumstances.

This need to ‘own and aquire’ has led to outrageous consumer spending levels which has led to huge levels of credit card debt – which is something that is relatively new in Asia given culturally it has always preferred to deal in cash.

Of course there’s loads more things that are developing – but what’s also interesting is that we now also see certain groups actively shunning the ‘ownership is good’ attitude and seeking out the simpler pleasures in life – things that give them fundamental happiness – things they felt they had prior to their countries wealth creation phase.

This is leading to increases in the number of people following religion, signing up for self-help courses, getting married and – strangely enough – getting divorced.

It’s a tough one because money can make huge improvements – but as Lee said, if Governments simply chase the cash, they could end up making deals that not only burden the country with greater debt [in the longer term] but affects how the people of their country develop.

For me the saddest thing about economic prosperity is that it tends to change the physical environment of a country to the point where the World is homogenised.

What’s worse … this commonality of ‘look’ is generally influenced by the biggest provider of foreign investment: USA.

I can only hope Cambodia develops more like Vietnam than Singapore 🙂

Comment by Rob

I hope that someone in Cambodia starts to measure happiness, and social prosperity not just money. There is no better example of the perverted nature of wealth when a credit card, a symbol of borrowing is flaunted as a status indicator. I always remember a sort of young wandering mystic I met in Thailand who urged me to change my wallet for a simple small transparent 7 Eleven plastic bag. He pointed out that the locals laughed at him with this for holding his money but that none ever tried to rip him off. I don’t know why I’ve wandered down this route but I have now.

Wealth creation is great but wealth creation for wealth creations sake is as superficial as it gets. Look at Donalds Trumps Hair Do for evidence of that 😉

Comment by Charles Frith

You should have tried Grimsby on a cold wet January night, i.e. last night; it’s worse than in November!

Comment by v_impressed

Do you work for the Grimsby Tourist Board by any chance? Or more likely the Skegness one, ha!

Comment by Rob

Interesting thoughts.
Neon still does it for me 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

still spouting the planning bollocks i see campbell? deary deary me, thats something i have to sort out now im back but before you get a swift kick in the balls ive got clients begging to walk in my shadow and a backlog of your shit to go through. consider yourself warned and consider me back.

Comment by andy@cynic

oh yes. oh fucking yes. At last, we shall have our revenge.

Welcome back Darth Boucher.

Comment by The Kaiser

Andy is back!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

you better fucking believe it kommandant kaiser but first i have fawning and adoring clients who require my special brand of loving. plus george would go apeshit if he saw me on here 🙂 later my friend. later.

Comment by andy@cynic

well done mortimer for welcoming me back and getting a job. ok its as a planner, but its a start.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hopefully I can prove to you that we aint ALL bad!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

This blog might get interesting again now.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Boucher – we’ve waited so long – what’s a day or two to us?

Buckle up Billy Whizz – I’m in a right fucking mood me.

Comment by The Kaiser

You were away Andy?

Comment by John

dodds you old pervert, dont try and act all tough, i know there were tears of joy running down your cheeks when you saw i was back. question though, how do you get tears going down your arse?

Comment by andy@cynic

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