The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. [ or hers :) ] ~Benjamin Disraeli ~

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Weekend to Remember

To encourage us to practice our khmer, VSO organised for volunteers to spend a night in a village with Cambodian families. Armed with mosquito nets, insect repellent and toilet rolls we set off in a mini bus. First stop was at the commune headquarters where we were greeted by the village leaders and asked to introduce ourselves - in khmai! First hurdle cleared ok, we then piled into a truck to be taken to our families.
 This is the house where I stayed. Downstairs the room has a mud floor and is used for storing rice, bikes etc. Chickens, ducks and dogs wander freely through. Upstairs was a large room with a wooden floor and a TV in one corner. The whole family sleeps here on mats. As a guest, I was given a mattress which made my night more comfortable than some other volunteers!

Cooking and bathing are done out the back. I watched as the children drew saucepans of  water from these urns and soaped themselves down. I was not asked to bathe out there with the cows and pigs, but invited to use a washroom in the house next door - what a relief! I still used a saucepan but at least it was behind a closed door.
 These are my hosts with 2 of their 8 children, Lin and Tumnow. They were really kind and made an effort to speak slowly so that, with the aid of my notes and a dictionary, we managed to find out quite a lot about one another. Chith, the father, was a farmer and speaks some french which helped occasionally.

Food was cooked out the back in a wok on a charcoal burner - nice food but rice with everything. We ate at a table in front of the house with a spoon and fork. The spoon is used to put the food in your mouth. I'm also becoming quite adept with chopsticks!

Chith also very proudly showed us his sugar palm trees which was really interesting. If you look carefully you can see a man up the tree harvesting  the sugary juice from the flowers. Rickety bamboo ladders are placed in the trees for access - unlike the way Tanzanians clamber up. Bamboo containers are used to transport the sugar which has many uses. I was given a taste but found it too sweet to drink.

More about Sugar Palm Tree

Bamboo Ladder

Containers made from bambo
So, a wonderful cultural experience that gave me some confidence in my language skills. They are still very basic but those who know how worried I was about it before I left UK will appreciate how happy I am to be getting off to a good start.

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