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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Vietnamese, Cambodian or human?

She was ahead of me on her bicycle as I rode mine towards the market. As she was riding quite slowly I pulled out to overtake her. I had just pulled ahead of her when she noticed me and started pedalling furiously to catch up.

'Where you go?' she asked in English, the usual first question in this corner of the world.

'To the market.'

'Where you come from?'

'From Australia.'

'I Vietnamese.' Yes, her skin was on the light side compared to most Cambodians.

'How long have you been here?' I asked.

'24 years.' She looked about 16.

We talked on. The usual small talk for someone whose English is only basic. Eventually, I asked another of the usual questions for this corner of the world, 'How old are you?'


After a few more questions I realized she had been born here. She'd spent her whole life in Cambodia but she still called herself Vietnamese.

I have to wonder why we have this need to separate ourselves from other human beings. Me? If you ask where I was born I answer 'Australia'. If you ask my nationality, I answer 'Australian'. If you ask my ancestry, I answer 'English'. But if you ask what I am, then I am a human being.


The flood has turned now but not before rising still higher. I took the opportunity to cycle through the flooded villages and also to take a boat ride through the extremely flooded ones. Photographs now showing on my flickr pages.

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