Sunday, 9 September 2012


Hello everyone,

I have actually had people requesting another blog!  I'm thinking not much has happened since the last blog but as always, I do have things to say and pictures to show.  So, here goes...

It seems that some of the content of my blogs, doesn't really encourage visitors.  (Thanks for pointing that out Ed.)  However, life is an adventure here and what is an adventure if not facing things that, shall we say, show a different side of life.  It is difficult not to mention things that shocked me at first, so I will start the blog explaining how I have "adapted".

Scenes from my bike ride today.

Things I've learnt:

Riding a motorbike in Cambodia...
1.  Traffic can come from any direction, going in any direction, on any part of the road.
2.  People never shoulder check and expect everyone else to look out for them.
3.  There is no such thing as road rage, one just accepts that it takes all kinds of driving to make traffic
4.  Cows, pigs, and chickens have free range everywhere so expect them to be on the road
5.  Potholes are deep, steep, and people swerve to avoid them every 2 metres
6.  When it rains, the roads are impassable for trucks and cars,with line-ups of them stuck in the mud,  but motorbikes slip and slide through. (One does arrive at one's destination with blocks of mud on one's feet, and up to one's knees.)
7. Bigger vehicles have the right of way regardless of where they are on the road.
8.  People courteously honk their horns many times to warn you they are "coming through".

One of the better roads on a good day.

Still a good road on a good day.

The environment:
1.  Plastic is a way of life.
2.  All sorts of liquid edibles come in thin plastic bags...even ice coffee, soup, tea, amazingly colourful drinking liquids, whatever.
3.  People just drop wrappings, bottles, containers, etc. on the spot.

4.  There are sinks with running water but the water drains out of the sink onto the floor because there is no other plumbing.
5.  I prefer squat toilets when travelling.
6.  Few can afford garbage pick up so everything gets burned...everything! For smells see below.
7.  People in rural areas drink from the same water that livestock use.
8.  Scorpions can fall from the rafters and sting you without even seeing them
9.  Ants are everywhere, in everything (even my computer at times) and hurt when they bite.
10. Mosquitoes are tiny and you don't feel them biting ever.  They also find the spots you miss with the repellent.

Just an example of ants on my counter
Everyday life:
A family in the catchment area of one of my schoolsEvery day life:
1.  At night, the dogs howl endlessly, and yelp, and bark
2.  The roosters can't tell time nor shut up after dark
3.  Motos can carry all sorts of 50 live  squawking chickens hanging by their feet, 5 live pigs squealing from their crates, high racks filled with plastic, or pots, or glass windows, not to mention 5 children and a driver.

4.   One experiences life with all of the senses and I think smell is the hardest...decomposing "things", sewage, most bizarre and foul odours from burning.
5.  Very loud music from loud speakers be it wedding music, or funeral music, that goes on for days.
6.  Streets getting taken over by tents for the above events
7.  Driving motorbikes right into and though the market and making your purchases without getting off the seat.
8.  Small horses are still used as a mode of transportation for pulling carts
9. Strange looking tractors are used for everything, not just farm work
10. People have been on motorbikes here from birth and so start to drive them when they are like 8 years old (it is hard to tell how old people are!)
11.  Every 10th moto has a pole which is supporting a drip for a person on an IV, usually an infant or child.

The horrors:

1.  Haunting thoughts of the terror these endearing people have had to endured.
2.  How deeply ingrained the "fear" factor is in the psyche of the people here (and for good reason).
3.  The way people were tortured and killed for crimes such as being ineffective working in the fields, caught stealing a few grains of rice when they were starving, being able to speak English or French, wearing glasses, being educated.

Sorry this is sideways!  This is known as the killing cave.  During the Khmer Rouge regime, people had their legs and arms bound and were dropped into this cave head first.  If they didn't die from the fall, they starved to death. Thousands were killed this way. (1977)

4.  Never challenge authority and do as you are told
5.  Corruption is a way of life
6.  I could go on but won't.  However, an excellent book is "First They Killed My Father" if you are interested written from the perspective of a young girl during the Pol Pot era.

The delights:

Mangostine (sp?)

1.  Fresh produce picked every morning and in abundance at the market.
2.  Children yelling hello from every household as you go by
3.  Everyone is cheerful and friendly, and very sociable...I have yet to come across someone who is cranky.
4.  The poor accept that their neighbour is richer and therefore has much more
5.  There is no sense of "entitlement" at all.
6.  No one tries to short-change you, ever.
7.  Everyone is trying to practise their English.
8.  Laughter come so easily.
9.  An acceptance and tolerance of everything in life it seems...religion (Buddhists never try to convert anyone), customs, beggars, poverty, wealth, erratic driving (usually mine!) ...
10.  Khmer eat everything, and can laugh about it
11.  No one complains about the road conditions or weather
12.  THE SMILES!!!! I JUST CAN'T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT THE LOVELY WARM SMILES!!!! Just about everyone takes the time to smile back at you regardless of what they are doing. And, I have to say, that it is the smiles that keep me going when times get tough.

My "tire guy who puts air in my tires for 8 cents and fixes my moto's flat tire for 37 cents. (Ok, he isn't smiling but he usually does.)
My neighbour has taught her daughter her amazing bead work, every bead sewn one at a time.
She does my laundry every week and we attempt conversations .... pretty hilarious really! 
Neighbour's grandson and friend

Neighbour and motodop driver.
Yours truly with neighbour's granddaughter and friend...grandson taking the photo
Another smiling face.  Recycles garbage she collects
A corner store.

That's all folks.  Warm thoughts and hugs to you all.