Sunday, April 13, 2014

61 Phnom Penh

It is the Thai New Year today in Thailand, and it is the Cambodian New Year today in Cambodia,

The last time I was in Cambodia I had this thing about photographing and recording hand painted shop signs before they completely die out and are replaced by a more modern form of path to purchase communication.

To show how hand painted signs would fizzle, roll over and fall off the perch, I took a photo of a laser printed sign above a coffin maker / funeral director's shop house by the Mekong.

It is said that New Year is a good time for coffin makers, I have been informed. Next month if I have to do a visa run I'll expect they will have made wise capital expenditures on new decent shelves, chillers, wider aisles, improved checkouts and trolleys in the car park.

Massive Songkran Festival Travel Spurs Coffin Business
April 12 2014, Thai PBS Network

"Millions of people will travel out of the capital for homes in the provinces thus causing traffic jams on highways to the north, northeast and south.

The massive Songkran festival travel will bring highway accidents resulting in high fatalities each year. The forecast for this year's fatalities is about 300 to 400 through the seven day period.

But road accident death is making a business run; coffin making. The business is lucrative during the period with coffin makers saying they have to stockpile their products in order to meet demand.

Workers at coffin making factories have had to increase their output especially during the period of Songkran and during the New Year as a result of increased demand because of deaths from road accidents.

"Coffins have evolved into many different designs with many varieties to choose from," said one coffee maker Viroj Suriyaseni. He said the most popular are the white coloured "Thep-phanom" (with sculptures of deities, hands clasped in prayer adorning the covers.

Coffins have become symbols of social status here in Thailand with prices starting from 1,000THB for the regular white "Thep-phanonm" coffins that have been popular for more than fifty years and some can fetch as much as hundreds of thousands of baht. For example, coffins made from teak and adorned with pearl inlays can cost as much as 600,000 baht (that's about 19,000 USD).

Normal demand for coffins is about one to two coffins per day but rises to seven or eight, or even ten, during the "Seven Dangerous Days". That is why many suppliers start stocking up on coffins as early as March in order to keep up with demand.

The northeastern provinces of the Esan region is the highest purchaser of coffins during festivals and merchants ay that the demand will only abate when the rainy season and Buddhist Lent arrives. Coffin sales during the rainy season and Buddhist Lent drop significantly. Another coffin maker said the drop is between ten to twenty per cent on average due to the fact that during Buddhist Lent there is a lower percentage of alcohol intake resulting in less deaths on the roads."

Me? I'll be stopping in, having parked my bike in the kitchen. I'll be happy with a pile of DVDs, a couple of books and a one liter bottle of Black Label. I might occasionally pop round to shop at my local 7-Eleven,on foot, for soda and ice.

Haindpainted signs....


No comments:

Post a Comment