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Sunday, November 19, 2006


Goodbye, I'll be back later

I have come to realize that one of my greatest joys in Cambodia is to get on my bicycle and take a ride through some of the villages in Kompong Chhnang province. Many of the houses have just one room. There might be three generations living in the one house and everyone sleeps in that one room. Cooking and bathing and most other activities are done outside. And on hot days of course everyone is outside.

As I ride my bicycle past them, almost everyone says 'hello'. They don't often get a Westerner riding through their village. Some beckon to me to stop and we have a conversation as best as we can with my limited Khmer. At least I can say more than most of them can say in English. Apart from 'hello', most only know 'What is your name?'

My response these days is to reply in Khmer, 'Kngnom ch'mor John. Joh neak ven?'

They enthusiastically engage in conversation and it's not long before the Khmer goes way beyond me.

On the day I took this photo I had my camera around my neck. I managed to pick up the word 'tort' and asked 'Twer roop tort?' Which I later discovered was very bad Khmer. But they understood so this lot all posed for a photo.

I'm moving on now. I'll miss these people but I'll be back.


On the way in to Phnom Penh on Friday I noticed that the floodwaters on the Tonle Sap have dropped by about three metres from what they were just two weeks ago—still a long way to go.


I spent Friday night in Phnom Penh. The guest house arranged for a tuk tuk to pick me up Saturday at 6.30 am. When it hadn't arrived by 6.45 pm I took a motorcycle taxi. Between the two of us we managed my three bags. That sort of overloading is normal in Cambodia. He drove flat out through the busy morning traffic with his horn blaring, stopping for only one red light. He drove through the others. I even managed to find a free hand when my phone rang—one of my students saying goodbye.

We arrived at Pochentong airport and I was surprised to see that it has been modernized since I arrived in February. I flew with Air Asia which I recommend for anyone on a budget. The planes and service are better than at least one other airline that charges many times more. I was a little concerned about the weight in my pack as they have a 15 kilo limit. Fortunately it came to 14.7. No hassles.

I flew into the huge new Suvarnabhumi (say Su-wa-na-phum) airport in Bangkok. It is very efficient. Immigration gave me no trouble and did not even ask to see the ticket for my onward flight. Customs was equally as simple. My friend, Ead, arrived to collect me soon after I was cleared.

So now I'm back eating Thai food and trying to not speak Khmer, which seems to be coming out of me automatically. I plan to see a bit of Thailand over the next few weeks and should be able to report no less often than I have from Cambodia.

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